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The Canadian Press

The union that represents Canadian diplomats wants Global Affairs Canada to consider paying bonuses to those stationed in the United States because they face an increased risk of armed crime and difficulties in terms of security. x27;access to health care.

Pamela Isfeld, president of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO), suggested that Ottawa's security threat assessments are not as rigorous for the United States as they are for others country.

If we talk about a post in Africa, where we been confined a half-dozen times due to active shooters in the last year, that would factor into the security assessment of this position.

A quote from Pamela Isfeld, President of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers

Global Affairs Canada has faced major problems convincing diplomats to serve south of the border, she said, and while the department attributes this to the fact that diplomats might want more exotic assignments, it is #x27;a misunderstanding of the situation, argues Ms. Isfeld.

She points out that the federal government often emphasizes the importance of Canada-U.S. relations and the need to have the best performance in diplomatic missions there.

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And yet, there is very little support, she laments.

Global Affairs Canada did not respond to questions from The Canadian Press.

Canadian diplomats are stationed at the Washington embassy as well as consulates and trade offices in 15 other cities, including Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Houston.

Pamela Isfeld believes that the alleged understaffing at U.S. missions is due in part to compensation that does not reflect the risks and inconveniences of life in the United States.

During an appearance on the Canadian Institute of Global Affairs' Global Exchange podcast earlier this month, she claimed that a diplomatic person stationed at a U.S. mission was trying to ;being transferred because that city's police department – ​​which she does not name – was underfunded and crime was skyrocketing.

There have been all kinds of confinements and evacuations in the office. One person says he personally witnessed five shootings, and yet no one will look at difficulty levels or incentive programs, or even increasing security budgets for these missions in order to deal with this.

A quote from Pamela Isfeld, in an excerpt from a podcast episode

In a recent interview with The Canadian Press, the director said that U.S. postings certainly have benefits for staff, such as proximity to loved ones on Canadian soil and an agreement that allows spouses of diplomats to work in the United States, unlike many other countries.

However, Ms. Isfeld noted that security issues are a growing concern for diplomats and officials from other federal departments who accept positions in the United States. United.

She maintains that there is a trend where Ottawa is sending more staff from other Canadian government departments to the United States because there are not enough Canadian officials. foreign service who wish to go there. According to her, no formal data analysis has been completed on this question.

Ms. Isfeld says that one person left her post in the United States a few years ago because there was a shooting at a nearby school and her child was afraid to go to class.

Global Affairs Canada has experienced problems with its new health insurance provider and diplomats have reported delays in getting answers to claims and other questions while x27;they worked abroad.

She said these delays are a particular problem in the United States, where there is almost no public health care and providers often withhold treatment until payment is made. insurance is taken care of.

Other countries, she explained, often have a government-funded program ;Statement that diplomats can rely on or offer primary medical services before settling billing.

She cited two recent cases in which a person stationed in the United States or a loved one there had difficulty obtaining medical care.

One ​​of them had a heart attack and was held up in the emergency room because she couldn't get the information she needed from the doctor. x27;insurer, she explained. Another had to delay her cancer treatment due to a similar problem.

Things like this simply shouldn't happen. And people hear these stories and don't want to go [to the United States], laments Ms. Isfeld. It all snowballs.

Ms. Isfeld says it would be very politically risky for Canada to officially designate a U.S. city as a hardship duty station. It's a label typically applied only to assignments in developing countries with high crime rates, outdated infrastructure, or endemic disease.

Former Canadian diplomat Roy Norton tempered Pamela Isfeld's comments.

He said the department should address issues with its insurance coverage but should not pay extra salaries to diplomats who work in a country where Canadians regularly take vacations.

The assertion or allusion that we should treat the United States United as a collection of difficult positions and compensating [our staff] in a corresponding way seems almost ridiculous to me.

A quote from Roy Norton, former Canadian diplomat

Roy Norton was posted to Washington, Detroit and Chicago before taking on the role of Chief of Protocol, a high-level position that includes oversee the security of foreign diplomatic missions in Canada.

Now a professor at the University of Waterloo, he argues that U.S. assignments are unique in that the work largely involves engagement with civil society and community leaders. company instead of limiting itself to the authorities in the capital.

He indicates that Canadian envoys to the United States evolve in a similar culture and that their children have access to schools capable of offering a program similar to those in many provinces.

He said the department could face considerable public resistance if it increased compensation packages for U.S. postings, as Justin Trudeau's government attempts to open new embassies in more countries as well. by reducing the department's budget.

In fact, he said that Global Affairs Canada should consider expanding the rules that require that certain types of diplomats receive a difficult assignment early in their career and complement that with an assignment to a U.S. mission as well, given the importance of the United States to Canadian interests.

But I recognize that it's not everyone's cup of tea, he qualified. Many people don't join Global Affairs Canada to be posted to a place where they could drive.

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