FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 6, 2023
TORONTO – Dozens of OPSEU/SEFPO correctional workers and OPSEU/SEFPO President JP Hornick are at Queen’s Park today with a message for MPPs: To fix the crisis in corrections, hire more permanent staff and build better infrastructure.
The correctional staff work in adult correctional institutions, youth facilities, adult probation and parole offices, and youth probation offices across the province.
In the wake of the Chief Coroner’s report on deaths in custody, An Obligation to Prevent, OPSEU/SEFPO members who work in adult institutions are calling on the Ministry of the Solicitor General to work with the union to implement the recommendations in the report, including:
- Hiring more permanent, full-time staff in all areas of adult correctional facilities in order to prevent violence and lockdowns, provide proper health care in custody, and deliver programming to support rehabilitation goals.
- Updating buildings and infrastructure to support health care and programming, ease overcrowding, and prevent violence.
- Improving training for correctional officers and giving OPSEU/SEFPO input into the current training for new recruits, and reverse the contracting-out of training curriculum to a third-party vendor.
Probation and parole staff are calling on the Ministry of the Solicitor General to address the chronic understaffing in their offices which has led to reduced services for rehabilitating clients, reduced ability to properly supervise clients in the community, increased recidivism, and more occupational illnesses and injuries for front-line staff.
Youth justice workers are calling on the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services to fill vacant youth probation officer positions, and reverse the planned closure of youth facilities in communities like the Cecil Facer Youth Centre in Sudbury, which will force young people in custody to move hours away from their communities and family supports.
Now that wage restraint legislation Bill 124 has been struck down in court, OPSEU/SEFPO correctional workers are calling on the Ford government to drop their appeal and bargain fair compensation with OPSEU/SEFPO, which would be a good start to fixing the understaffing crisis throughout the correctional system.
“For many years, every third-party review, every special report issued says the same thing: Ontario’s correctional system is drastically understaffed, overcrowded and has completely outdated infrastructure. Senior decision-makers in both ministries create policies that are completely out-of-step with the resources they provide to staff to carry them out, and it often ends in tragedy. It’s the responsibility of the Ontario government, the ministers and their senior staff to take accountability for the crisis in corrections and to work with our union to fix it. We can turn the crisis in corrections and youth justice around with more permanent, full-time staff committed to a career of protecting public safety and promoting rehabilitation.”
– Chad Oldfield, OPSEU/SEFPO Correctional Bargaining Unit Chair
“Accountability starts at the top when it comes to Ontario’s correctional system – from senior management, right up to the Ministers and the Premier himself. That’s where decisions are made that create the conditions inside correctional institutions, youth facilities, and probation and parole offices. We need a correctional system that prioritizes and invests in the safety and well-being of both correctional staff and people in custody.”
– JP Hornick, OPSEU/SEFPO President
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Chad Oldfield, OPSEU/SEFPO Correctional Bargaining Unit Chair, 905-399-1222
JP Hornick, OPSEU/SEFPO President, 416-806-9526