The majority of RCMP members who responded to a survey during the pandemic experienced high levels of job stress, which seeped into their home life.

The findings were published by Prof. Linda Duxbury and Sean Campeau of Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business in partnership with the National Police Federation, the RCMP’s union, to identify the main stressors facing RCMP officers in the second wave of the pandemic.

According to the survey, which was sent out between October and December 2020 and released Thursday, 76 per cent of the police officers who responded to the survey reported high levels of job stress.

“Our analysis indicates that the key workplace stressors experienced by RCMP officers working in frontline positions in Canada at this time have less to do with the job itself and more to do with the organizational culture of the RCMP, with resourcing decisions, and by the political landscape surrounding the job of police officer in North America at this time,” it found.

The report found the impact work has on their families is a major stressor for officers, with close to three quarters of respondents flagging work interference with family life as an area with high levels of stress.

“The levels of job stress, work role overload, how work interferes with family, perceived stress, and work-related burnout observed in this sample are not, in our opinion, sustainable over time — particularly when one considers that many police officers lack the appropriate coping resources to deal with this strain in healthy ways,” the authors concluded.

In terms of stressors, respondents also pointed to resourcing decisions (not enough officers to do the work required; the amount of time the officer is required to spend in administrative work) and a fear that they’ll be verbally and or physically assaulted by a member of the public while on the job.

Forty-five per cent of respondents reported high levels of stress because of what the report called “toxic conditions” — their perception that the culture of the RCMP makes it hard for them to seek help and to say no to more work, even when overloaded.

Mounties reacting to ‘negative news’

Another stress factor was a perception of how the police are being portrayed in the media and fear of backlash.

Just under half of officers in the sample found the public conversation around defunding the police and public protests against the police in Canada stressful. 

The report also said male officers without children in the sample were more likely than any other group to report that they often experience stress due to “negative news.”

“The officers in this group are younger and work in frontline positions within the RCMP. The stressors data suggest that this group of officers are more likely to work in frontline positions and interact with the public on a regular basis,” notes the report.

The survey’s release comes as the union is calling on whoever forms the next government to increase access to mental health supports for RCMP members and increase training capacity at depot in Regina.

President Brain Sauvé called the results “worrying” but “not surprising.”

“Our members have for several years been forced to make up for significant funding cuts and shortfalls, and they continue to be asked to provide services beyond crime prevention and law enforcement, which is unsustainable,” he said.

The report is part of a broader survey of more than 22,000 workers from different sectors across Canada. More responses are expected in the next several months.

Source From CBC News

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