Correctional Officers work the toughest beat in any city

Ontario Ombudsman’s Special Report on Use of Force in MCSCS Institutional Services

The Corrections MERC team members recently met with investigators from the Ombudsman Office. The Ombudsman investigation will look at the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ response to inmate complaints of excessive force, including how it conducts investigations and enforces policies on the use of force.

We put forward the argument that the Ombudsman’s investigation should be a more comprehensive look into the correctional services system in Ontario with a view of addressing the many concerns that our members have including but not limited to: overcrowding, access to training, increased workloads with no increase in staffing levels, chronic staff shortages, limited access to existing personal protective equipment, length of internal investigations, lack of inmate programming, increased levels of violence in the workplace, increase in the level of gang activities in institutions, lack of resources for occupational stress injuries and post traumatic stress disorders.

The MERC emphasized the issue that the investigations on the use of force, in general, are too long and drawn out, unfocused and in many cases lasting more than a year. Fixed term (unclassified) correctional officers are treated significantly differently with less concern for personal welfare then (regular) full-time correctional officers.

We’ve informed the Ombudsman’s investigators that the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services operates with arrogance and immunity. There is no public scrutiny of operational procedures and when questioned or challenged in the proper forums by the bargaining unit representatives, the ministry has typically stonewalled, dismissed and ignored our concerns in many cases.

The Corrections MERC strongly advised the Ombudsman’s office that a report which failed to consider the systemic problems of Corrections in Ontario was simply doing a disservice to our members, the inmates and the citizens of this province.

This is OUR opportunity to stand up and be heard. We have made ourselves and the members available to assist and, in any way possible, to aid the Ombudsman in this investigation. The MERC is asking that all locals write to the Ombudsman’s Office to also afford their assistance so that OUR collective voices do not go unheard.

In Solidarity,

Dan Sidsworth
MERC Chair
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