TORONTO – Despite her commitment three weeks ago to join OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas on a tour of Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre, Deb Matthews, MPP for London North Centre and deputy premier, has backed away from that promise.
“Deb Matthews’ office contacted my office in early January to say she was ready to join me on a tour of the detention centre in her city,” Thomas said today. “But despite repeated outreach by my staff to hers, it’s become clear she never had any intention to do so.
“That’s a shame because Elgin-Middlesex has been plagued by operational issues of overcrowding and understaffing for years. Lockdowns are routine and not the exception. Regrettably, there have been incidents of violence. I wanted her to join me to see firsthand the pitiful state of affairs inside that facility.”
Without citing a reason, Matthews turned down an invitation from Thomas to tour Elgin-Middlesex with him scheduled for Dec. 18. “That’s why we were pleasantly encouraged when she reversed herself in January by indicating she now wanted to visit the jail,” said Thomas.
As president of treasury board Matthews has the authority to recommend to cabinet emergency funding when a crisis emerges in the province. OPSEU has called for the government to spend $100 million to meet the crisis in correctional services.
Thomas said his invitation to Matthews is a standing one and that he would welcome the opportunity for her to join him on a future visit to Elgin-Middlesex.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
Related: Crisis In Corrections Index Page