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Corrections Division letter to Minister Bradley addresses jail closures

Corrections Division letter to Minister Bradley addresses jail closures

We the North
We the North
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April 18, 2011

The Honourable James Bradley Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
18th Floor
25 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1Y6

Re: The closures of the Owen Sound Jail, Walkerton Jail, Sarnia Jail and the partial closure of the Toronto West Detention Centre.

Dear Minister Bradley:

I am writing to you about the recent announcement of Jail closures in the March 29th provincial budget, the McGuinty government announced would take place. On behalf of all the Ontario Public Service Employee Union members in the Corrections Division we do not support this decision. This move was made without any consultation or discussion with the elected representatives or our members of the Institutional Services Division.

The fact that this announcement came in the form of a budget item preceding an election and not on prudent operational needs has not been lost on the employees of this Ministry.

None of these closures make any fiscal or operational sense. For instance, Owen Sound and Walkerton Jails both operate at, or close to their budgets. These facilities serve a vital role in their communities, providing well-paying jobs to support the local economy. Inmates housed in these facilities receive local support and services from their home community and family members.

There is also a major issue with transportation. Round trips to take inmates from Penetanguishene to Courts in Owen Sound, Walkerton, Goderich and Wingham, will take four to seven hours. Sarnia to Windsor and back will easily take six hours. In the winter, these trips will be on roads that are some of the worst in Ontario for snow, ice and closures.

For our affected members many are going to be faced with possible relocation or choose to leave the Ontario Public Service. Although they will get some compensation as per our collective agreement, the cost and impact on their families is great. For some members this will be the second time they will be forced to uproot their families due to jail closures.

The justice partners we work with across Huron, Bruce, and Grey Counties will be impacted severely by this short sighted plan which was ill conceived and not thought out with any fore thought. It has historically been the belief that the Walkerton and Owen Sound Jails would be replaced with a regional correctional centre. The Sarnia Jail and Toronto West Detention Centre closures are nothing more than an attempt to hide the costs of staffing the two new facilities being built, by cannibalizing existing facilities. We find this very disturbing as the government has publicized it is modernizing a correctional system at the expense of jails that are cost efficient, provide an important resource to their communities and will not be replaced.

I urge your government to postpone the implementation of the announced jails closures until an open and transparent review can be conducted that would include consultation with all affected stakeholders.

Sincerely,

Dan Sidsworth
OPSEU MERC Chair MCSCS
w 905-878-8141 ex.2415 c 905-691-7955 dansidsworth@cogeco.ca

copy to: Garfield Dunlop, MPP PCP Critic, Community Safety and Correctional Services
Peter Kormos, MPP, NDP Critic, Community Safety and Correctional Services
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President OPSEU
OPSEU Executive Board
OPSEU Stewards