New MGEU research has succeeded in drawing public attention to the high rates of mental health injuries among Manitoba correctional officers. This information became the focus of a recent CBC Manitoba news story about the need for more mental health supports and prevention measures in the workplace for correctional officers.

Statistics, obtained through a freedom of information request by the union, reveal that correctional officers make up 0.42% of Manitoba’s workforce, but represent over 20% of all psychological injury claims accepted by the Workers Compensation Board in the province. At the same time, officer claims for post-traumatic stress disorder have more than doubled – from 11 in 2018, to 24 in 2021.

"These numbers show that there is more work to be done, our officers need more workplace supports," said MGEU President, Kyle Ross. "The job is hard, it's difficult, and the issues and the incidents that happen in the job, they compound. It could be multiple things that happen over time and then eventually… they break down."

Ross says that while these numbers might surprise most Manitobans, they aren’t necessarily surprising to officers, who often face verbal abuse, threats, and violence at work.

For these reasons, the MGEU Corrections Component was one of the leading proponents for creating the union’s Healthy Minds at Work campaign in 2018, which seeks to raise member awareness about workplace mental health, and push for more employer action on workplace mental health and wellness.

This September, the union also began an advertising campaign, called “More Than a Uniform” to bring public attention to the valuable, challenging, and often dangerous, work of Manitoba’s Correctional Officers.

"Our corrections campaign is an important opportunity to bring to light how difficult this job is and to show how officers keep Manitobans safe, keep each other safe, and keep those who are incarcerated safe,” said Ross. “It’s an important time to be talking about the essential public service they provide.”