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Lock Talk:  A Publication of the OPSEU Corrections Campaign

August 10, 2001

Tories slammed for reneging on Thunder Bay

The Ontario government has come under fire this week for allegedly reneging on plans to expand the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre. Liberal MPP Michael Gravelle says that the expansion of the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre that was announced twice last year has been put on the back burner by the “bully” politics of the Mike Harris government.

“Frankly, I find the government’s behaviour related to this vital community facility deeply offensive,” Gravelle said in a press release on August 7. “Essentially, they’re threatening the municipality - either support a privately run institution or we’ll take away a $20 million project.”

Gravelle’s comments come after a series of letters between Corrections Minister Rob Sampson, Thunder Bay Mayor Ken Boshcoff and himself, and after a phone call Gravelle had with a senior official from the Minister’s office. In a July 13th letter to Gravelle, Sampson wrote: “Any municipality interested in hosting a correctional facility must be open to the idea of a privately-owned or privately-operated facility.” A subsequent phone call to the Minister’s Executive Assistant by Gravelle could elicit no guarantees that the project would be given the go-ahead unless Thunder Bay City Council rescinded its March resolution opposing the privatization of correctional services.

“It’s not difficult to read between the lines,” said Gravelle. “This is a government that is quite willing to play hard-ball and they do not like any municipality taking a negative position on a policy decision they have taken.”

Gravelle is calling on Minister Sampson to publicly clarify his position on this urgent matter. If the Minister does not respond, Gravelle intends to pursue this aggressively once the Legislature returns in September.

Escape leaves officer injured

A meticulously planned escape from the Toronto West Detention Centre this week has left one correctional officer injured and police searching for the inmate.

The inmate was being transported to hospital for stitches to a head wound when the escape occurred. It is reported that the inmate was being walked into the hospital when he bent down, complaining that his leg shackles were too tight. The inmate freed one shackle, then ran and dove into the window of a van that had sped into the parking lot.

One officer sustained injuries when he tried to prevent the escape. He was knocked down when the driver of the van fled, and suffered severe injuries to his elbow during the fall.

The inmate planned his flight in great detail. Earlier that day, the inmate released all of his personal property to an acquaintance.

The inmate was being held awaiting deportation to the U.S. after escaping from an American prison. The inmate had served two years of a 26-year sentence.

It is doubtless that many questions will be raised regarding this incident, like why an inmate with this kind of history was sent out with only two officers. The results of the escape on the welfare of the two officers could have been much worse.

Get out and support these members

Members of Local 361 (Kennedy House Youth Services in Uxbridge), who have been locked out by their employer for seven weeks, are holding a demonstration at Kennedy House head office in Scarborough on Monday, August 13 at 10 a.m.

Barry Scanlon, chair of the OPSEU Corrections Ministry Employee Relations Committee, urges ANY member who is available that day to get out and join these members at the protest.

“The members of Local 361 are living proof of what can happen when dealing with a greedy, callous, private employer,” Scanlon said. “Every correctional officer in the province should be giving support to these members. What is happening to them could be the future for us. They need a lot of bodies out there on Monday to make as much noise as possible.”

Kennedy House head office is located at 10 Milner Business Court in Scarborough. OPSEU president Leah Casselman and Ethel LaValley, vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Labour will also be in attendance.

For more information, contact Pat Schillemore at (905) 433-7179

Get your resumes in

Are you ready for a career change? Think you have what it takes to be one of the highest paid employees in the public service? Are you able to elbow other senior bureaucrats aside at the trough? Then the Ministry of Correctional Services wants you!

The Ontario government’s July 27 issue of Job Mart has a position that we are sure any experienced correctional officer could perform. Namely, the Ministry wants a Contract Compliance Manager (“monitor”) for their new privately run superjail.

If you ignore all of the fancy qualification descriptions (e.g. “proven change-leadership / project-management experience) what this job boils down to is ensuring that Management and Training Corporation doesn’t screw up.

According to the posting, there are no education requirements and no restrictions. You may have to carry a beeper in case a problem erupts after business hours (and we know THAT never happens) and MTC wants to tattle on themselves. The best part? This so-called watchdog position pays $85,439. Please take a few moments to pick your jaw up off the floor.

We encourage every member to send in his or her resume. Send to: File C-9049, Ministry of Correctional Services, Human Resources Branch, 25 Grosvenor St., 16th Floor, Toronto, ON M7A 1Y6 or fax to (416) 327-8807. The deadline is August 13.

Do you want fries with that?

It has been reported this week that correctional managers at the Toronto West Detention Centre have been hard at work…in the kitchen. Allegedly, inmate unrest at the institution has prevented inmates from assisting in the preparation of meals in the kitchen. The managers have jumped in to fill the gap, cooking meals and doing dishes.

The menu plan hasn’t been that great (one meal only consisted of white rice and a Jamaican patty) but we’re sure that things will improve as the managers gain experience.

The cynics among us could assume that the managers are boning up for new careers. Regardless, it’s one more skill they can add to their resumes when it comes time to downsize.

Resolution watch

One more municipality opposing privatized jails was added this week, bringing the total to 259.

The Municipality of Tarbutt & Tarbutt Additional (southeast of Sault Ste. Marie) has lodged its support for public correctional services. This also brings the Resolution Warrior’s personal municipality total to 190.

Congratulations to Len Mason of Local 737 (Thunder Bay Jail), for patiently continuing his quest.

For campaign information, call Don Ford (ext. 442) or Pam Doig (ext. 687) at 1-800-268-7376 or (416) 443-8888.
e-mail: or

Ontario Public Service Employees Union
100 Lesmill Road, Toronto, Ontario M3B 3P8

Original authorized for distribution by Leah Casselman, president.


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Ontario Public Service Employees Union, 100 Lesmill Rd. Toronto, ON M3B 3P8  (416) 443-8888