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Hamilton public health must make vaccination for Corrections workers a priority: OPSEU/SEFPO

Toronto – OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is calling on Solicitor-General Sylvia Jones to order Hamilton public health officials to do their job and vaccinate frontline Corrections staff as soon as humanly possible.

“The minister must make it clear to public health officials in Hamilton and across Ontario that our frontline heroes at Correctional facilities must be a provincial priority when it comes to vaccinations,” said Thomas.

Thomas is stunned that public health officials have scheduled COVID-19 vaccinations this week for inmates at the Hamilton Wentworth Detention Centre, but haven’t confirmed appointments for Corrections staff at the facility.

“If public health officials in Hamilton can’t get their act together, then the provincial government should take over and provide on site vaccinations at the jails, said Thomas.  “These are frontline heroes who have risked their lives every day during this pandemic.  The behaviour of Hamilton Public Health is egregious.”

Thomas noted that, last month, some Corrections workers in Hamilton were turned away by health officials even though they had booked an appointment.

OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, a Corrections Officer from the Hamilton Wentworth Detention Centre, says front-line staff at the facility must be given priority.

“This is a question of public safety and that must be the number one priority,” said Almeida. “Corrections staff can’t work from home.  Unless Hamilton public health officials think we should open virtual jails, they must vaccinate Corrections staff immediately.”

Thomas wants all front-line Corrections staff across the province vaccinated as early as possible.

“The government has declared that Corrections staff are a priority,” said Thomas.  “If public health officials don’t act accordingly, the government should take over and vaccinate our frontline heroes where they work.”