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Correctional Services minister must resign: OPSEU

Toronto – Premier Kathleen Wynne should demand that Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Yasir Naqvi resign from cabinet for his inept handling of the personnel crisis at Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre (OCDC), the president the Ontario Public Service Employees Union said today.

“It’s now quite clear that Yasir Naqvi is the problem – not the solution, for the mess at OCDC,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, following news that the facility’s superintendent, Maureen Harvey, had been fired by the minister on Friday. She will be replaced by deputy superintendent, Mike Wood.

“That the minister could say that ‘Mike (Wood) and his team will continue to run the institution in a safe and secure manner’ is outrageous, a falsehood, and flies in the face of a community advisory panel which last year concluded OCDC was plagued with organizational problems like overcrowding and understaffing, and for its bad quality food.

“OCDC has become the brand name for Ontario’s crisis in corrections and I fear we will see more of the cover ups, lies and toxic labour relations that plague the jail system. ”

Thomas said he found it troublesome that with the dismissal of Harvey, the ministry has lost a respected jail superintendent who enjoyed a track record of expanding human rights for inmates and for her forward thinking on how jails should operate in the 21st century.  She was the second female superintendent at OCDC to be let go by the ministry.

OPSEU, which represents more than 7,000 correctional officers and probation and parole staff, has called on the ministry to make good on its promise to establish a task force to study the underlying causes of the crisis in corrections, and to make recommendations how to improve the system. The union insists the task force must include union representation and staff from the ministries of Corrections, Health and Long-Term Care, and Community Services, along with victims’ rights groups.

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931

Related: Crisis In Corrections Index Page