© Guardian file photo
Department of Justice, says cancelling commissionaires part of security review of all courthouses
SUMMERSIDE – After March 31 the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires will no longer be providing security services at the Summerside Provincial Courthouse.
The cut will result in the loss of one full-time position, which is manned by two commissionaires who share part-time hours, one working three days a week and the other working two.
Allan MacKinnon, regional manager for the commissionaires on P.E.I., said he was informed about a month ago by the provincial government that the organization’s services would no longer be required at that facility.
“Of course it is (disappointing),” saidMacKinnon, who added that he understood the province’s reasoning for the move.
“Budgets come and go, but I think we’re getting hit a little harder in P.E.I. these days because of the provincial government’s necessity to bring things in line with that ever elusive balanced budget.”
According to the Department of Justice, the decision to discontinue the commissionaires' contract comes as part of a review of security at the Island’s courthouses.
In an emailed statement, a department spokesperson said the review found there was overlapping duties between the commissionaires and sheriff services, which also provides security at the courthouse.
The review also determined that the Summerside courthouse should have a metal detector for added security. However, there wasn’t enough room for both a commissionaire’s desk and the machine in the heritage building’s lobby, so the province chose to keep the machine.
“There were issues around the space requirements for both a screener and commissionaire in a small area … A decision was made to continue with the higher security ‘screener’ in that facility as it provided the level of safety required for those visiting or working at the courthouse in Summerside.”
It’s been a rough few months on P.E.I. for the commissionaires. The organization lost one of its biggest contracts in September when the province decided not to renew it and hired another company to provide security at the Prince County Hospital in Summerside and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown.
Before the company lost the contracts at the two hospitals there were 182 members working in the province; as of April 1 that number will be down to 140, most of them work in the Charlottetown area. The only two positions left in Summerside are a seasonal position at the Port of Summerside and one part-time position at the City of Summerside doing bylaw enforcement.
MacKinnon estimated that the commissionaires have had a contract at the Summerside courthouse for at least 15 years.
The commissionaires corps was originally founded to provide employment for retired members of the Canadian Armed Forces.