The Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE) is concerned about the Canadian Coast Guard’s (CCG) difficulty recruiting and retaining lightkeepers. CCG is implementing drastic strategies, including rotational closures of light stations, to address its staffing problem. UCTE is concerned that this is coming at a cost of putting mariners at risk.
“8 years later and the department still has not developed a successful recruiting strategy,” said Barry Tchir, UCTE Regional Vice-President for the Pacific region referring to a Senate Committee decision.
In December 2010, the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans issued a report putting a stop to the government’s plan to de-staff the lighthouses. One of the Committee’s recommendations was for CCG to develop a long-term policy that will obviate cyclical reviews and will ensure continuation of a suitable level of staffing.
Currently CCG is not able to attract people to the work. A large part of the problem is how they recruit. The Union was advised by CCG that it requires permission from Privy Council to advertise including listing it as a career choice on the CCG website careers page.
“CCG’s own research shows only 20% of lightkeepers were recruited from seeing an ad on the government website,” said Tchir. “Why keep doing something that provides so poor results?”
The Union is actively meeting with CCG to try and assist with a solution. “The government is playing “Russian roulette’ with the safety of those who depend on lightstations”, said Tchir.