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Corrections investments ‘a positive start’: OPSEU

Toronto – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is reacting positively to this morning’s announcement from Ontario Corrections Minister David Orazietti regarding reforms to the province’s broken correctional system.

“We believe these measures are a positive start,” said Monte Vieselmeyer, chair of OPSEU’s corrections division. “We see here a long-overdue recognition that there is a crisis in corrections, and that it’s taking a heavy toll on both staff and offenders. The measures announced should start the process to effect positive change.”

In a news release today, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services said it would put another $33 million annually into correctional services, enabling the ministry to hire additional frontline staff, including not only new correctional officers but also nurses, mental health nurses, social workers, psychologists, and recreational staff. The new investments will also help reduce the use of segregation, and make capital investments to improve the safety and well-being of staff and  inmates alike.

The reforms come in the midst of an ongoing crisis in corrections that has seen OPSEU campaigning to address overcrowding, understaffing, the shortage of mental health services, and other problems.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU, welcomed the new spending.

“I have to give credit where credit is due,” said Thomas. “I congratulate Minister David Orazietti for listening to the concerns of the front line. These supports, particularly the new hires to support inmates with special needs, are very welcome.”

Thomas expressed disappointment, however, that the ministry’s plan includes hiring 46 new managers.

“I’ve said it more times than I can count, but the fact is, in a time of crisis, resources need to go to the front lines,” he said. “We’re not short of managers; we’re short of everything but.”

For more information: Monte Vieselmeyer, 705-627-1942; Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931

Related: Crisis In Corrections index page