Sixteen deputy sheriffs are being cut from courthouses across Saskatchewan.
The Saskatchewan Government Employees Union (SGEU) confirms the layoffs are in Regina, Saskatoon, Weyburn, Prince Albert and North Battleford.
Deputy sheriffs escort prisoners, ensure security in courtrooms and screen people entering.
“The role of a deputy sheriff is vital to keeping Saskatchewan people safe,” explained SGEU president Bob Bymoen, adding that deputy sheriffs carry firearms.
SGEU believes the government’s decision is financially driven.
“I wasn’t there when the workers were told but from what I am hearing it was a monetary issue and they are going to contract this work out to somebody cheaper,” Bymoen said.
If that is the case, Bymoen is concerned about the level of service and safety that would be provided.
“They don’t have that level of training or are certified in the same way that are deputy sheriffs are,” Bymoen said.
“It is literally a step backwards when it comes to public safety.”
The government is confirming the job losses, sixteen full-time equivalent positions are being scrapped.
It is being done to save money and instead the government is seeking a private contractor.
“Keeping in mind we want to ensure the ongoing safety and security of our courthouse facilities, we believe it can be done in a more cost-effective way,” Justice Minister Gord Wyant explained.
But he insisted public safety will not be compromised in this decision.
“The screening devices that are in the front of the courthouses, those are the individuals we are talking about, we are not doing anything to effect in court security or prisoner transport,” Wyant said.
Current deputy sheriffs are armed inside courtrooms and while escorting prisoners.
Those at the front of the building are not.
With a request for proposals going out in the next couple of weeks, Wyant wouldn’t say how much is being saved with this decision.