Whenever you walk into a federal government Canadian Corps of Commissionaires was formed in 1925 with the opening of offices in in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. A national organization was created by 1950 and today Commissionaires employs over 23,000 people with offices operating in all ten provinces and three territories.
To meet growing demands for security personnel after the September 11 attacks in 2001, Commissionaires began accepting civilians. While not all Commissionaires are veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces or Royal Canadian Mounted Police service, the organization’s mandate is primarily to provide meaningful employment to veterans. A significant proportion of its current members remain veterans, and Commissionaires hires about 1,200 of them every year.
In addition to working as trained security guards in major companies and other organizations, Commissionaires guard everything from museum pieces to live ammunition and government files, explained Violet Brennan-Smith, Marketing and Communications Manager at Commissionaires’ Victoria, the Islands and Yukon division.
The organization offers a wide variety of identification services, ranging from employee background checks and fingerprinting to comprehensive record suspension services or pardons. Commissionaires is the only identification services provider accredited by the RCMP, meaning faster turnaround times and unmatched expertise.
“We’ve expanded our services into other areas such as criminal record checks, video monitoring, travel waivers and ID services for people who need paperwork done to enter the U.S. We also facilitate the procedure when it comes to granting pardons.” Commissionaires is the only identification services provider accredited by the RCMP, meaning faster turnaround times and unmatched expertise.
“We’ve expanded our services into other areas such as criminal record checks, video monitoring, travel waivers and ID services for people who need paperwork done to enter the U.S. We also facilitate the procedure when it comes to granting pardons.”
On the commercial side, Commissionaires monitors homes for vacationers, offers risk assessment and recently moved into cyber security. As a non-profit organization, 90 per cent of revenue goes to employees with the main focus dedicated to developing their skills, noted Ms. Brennan-Smith.
“We’re also very involved in the community by trying to get students interested in law enforcement, for example.”
In addition to a basic security training course which mirrors those offered by provincial governments, Commissionaires offers advanced training for such things as dealing with mental illness or de-escalating a tense situation, or how to operate an armoured vehicle.
“A lot of our employees work on military bases in areas such as access control. In terms of private clients, they work for the railroads, airports port authorities, hospitals and shopping centres.” In short, Commissionaires employees can be found in most industries, including retail, business and finance, health, transportation, construction and development and education.
Like many businesses, Commissionaires faces a labour shortage and is attempting to hire more family members, especially more women and students. “We have different campaigns to attract different demographics. For students, we emphasize the benefits of a career in security. For women, we have a military spouse campaign which emphasizes flexible working hours.”
One student campaign asks, “Need summer cash? We’ll pay for your security worker course.” Another encourages students to “Join the only not-for-profit security company.” There are three different ads targeting military spouses with testimonials from spouse Natasha McKinnon outlining the advantages of working for Commissionaires. The heading in all three ads is “We hire military spouses” with the tagline, “Flexibility, opportunity and support, wherever you’re based.”
After 12 years of service, members are eligible to receive the Commissionaires Long Service Medal. Additionally, both Distinguished Service and Meritorious Service medals may be awarded when approved by the area office and Commissionaires’ National office.