Northern pilot says security screenings too severe after losing out on job

Robyn Shlachetka maintains she lost a job opportunity because she knows people with criminal records

A member of Manitoba’s first female Indigenous medevac team says she was denied a job flying for Manitoba courts because she has distant contacts who have criminal records.

“At first I tried to reach out to find out why. Is there something I can do, is there something I did wrong, what do you need me to do to get this contract because this contract meant working Monday to Friday, being at home every night, being there for my kids,” stated Robyn Shlachetka in a phone interview with APTN News.

“And that’s kind of critical for me right now especially with the baby having health problems. So when I reached out they sent an email stating employees were not allowed to call about the results.”

Shlachetka has been a pilot for over 10 years and has primarily flown for airline companies in the north. For the last two years she’s been mostly flying medevacs, although her schedule keeps her away from her family.

She applied for a job that would have seen her fly lawyers, prisoners and judges to and from court and be home every night.

Shlachetka was denied the job despite passing multiple background checks and flying for court parties in the past.

Manitoba Justice gave no reason for the denial but asked if she knew anyone with a criminal history. She admitted a brother spent time in prison and she has some contacts on Facebook who have criminal records.

However, she says living in Thompson, Man. – which has some of the highest crime rates in Canada – it’s hard to not know someone with a criminal past.

“If you live in a small community up north, if you’re Indigenous then you know you’re going to unfortunately have ties or connections that you didn’t ask for, or you don’t really ask for. You know you practically live under a rock,” said Shlachetka about living in Thompson.

Shlachetka added, “Thompson’s such a small city that people become familiar and they asked me too if I’ve flown people that I knew as prisoners and I said yes because I’m from a small town. Anyone from that small town who is arrested that needs to be transported I will fly them, and it’s never been an issue before.”

APTN reached out to Manitoba’s Justice Minister Cliff Cullen, who provided the following emailed statement.

“To help ensure the safety and security of our provincial justice system, Manitoba Justice has a security screening process in place, and we have confidence in this process.”

The Manitoba Civil Service Commission, which handles human resource and labour relations management in government, also provided an emailed statement to APTN.

“Manitoba Justice conducts its own security screenings. The security screening process involves a number of security related checks to ensure that the applicant is acceptable for the particular role they are applying for within the department.”

Schlachetka says she was still offered a job flying medevacs in the north but would be away from her family, but with a young child, she doesn’t know yet if she will accept the offer.

She hopes her story will spark a discussion around the severity around background checks.

“I don’t think it will necessarily help my case that much but I’m really hoping that you know it kind of put it out there for them to realize that maybe they’re being a little too extensive and maybe they should be giving people opportunities. There’s no reason not to, especially if you’re able to pass all these checks.”

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