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New specialized correctional teams a ‘step in the right direction’: OPSEU President Thomas

Toronto – OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says the Ford government is taking a step in the right direction by adding new Specialized Teams in two of Ontario’s correctional facilities.  

Institutional Security Teams (ISTs) have a proven track record of improving security and disrupting illegal activities, like the trafficking of drugs and weapons, at a number of institutions in Ontario.

President Thomas is calling today’s announcement by the Ford government good news, but says there’s still a long way to go to make Ontario’s correctional facilities safer for staff and inmates.

“There’s always more that can be done, especially when frontline workers’ lives are on the line,” said Thomas. “I’m pleased to see this government has finally taken a step in the right direction on the corrections file.

“More full-time officers with specialized training, means more eyes and ears on the ground and safer facilities.”

OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, a corrections officer by trade, is calling for Specialized Teams to be rolled out in every institution.

“Ontario’s correctional facilities are more dangerous today than ever before,” said Almeida. “Chronic underfunding and staff shortages mean that frontline workers are unnecessarily put in harm’s way.

“Nobody should go to work afraid they’ll get beaten up, or worse, killed on the job,” said Almeida. “We need to invest in staffing and resources to make these facilities safer, and this move is a small step in the right direction. ISTs do work, and we need them in every institution.”

“Frontline correctional staff members are frustrated,” said Chris Jackel, Co-Chair of OPSEU’s Corrections Ministry Employee Relations Committee. “Progress has been too slow, and it’s the frontline workers who suffer.

“We see these two new ISTs, with the additional full-time Correctional Officers, as a positive,” said Jackel. “But we need ISTs and more staff in every institution.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; Chris Jackel, 705-816-5936.