Toronto – Correctional workers gave back to their local communities this past week during their second annual Corrections Cares About Communities event.
They staged a variety of events to raise funds for local charities and raised $13,000 and 1345 pounds of food donations. Last year’s total was $11,500 in cash and 3,000 pounds in food donations, said Chris Jackel, the Co-chair of the Ministry-Employee Relations Committee (MERC).
“This is a fantastic reflection of the concern we have for the communities we serve and live in,” said Jackel. “These are the communities we put our lives on the line for every day.”
The province’s roughly 9,000 correctional workers, represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, work in institutions, like jails, and in community corrections, primarily in probation and parole offices.
Health and Safety Committee Co-Chair Michael Lundy said giving back to the community was an effective means for many workers to cope with the intense stress and anxiety of their jobs.
“Our workplaces are volatile and violent,” said Lundy. “When we go to work, we don’t know if we’ll come home unhurt – or alive. Giving back to the community is therapeutic.
“This kind of outreach helps keep us focused on why we go to work: for the security and well-being of our communities.”
Correctional staff took the opportunity to raise awareness of the crisis in Ontario’s woefully underfunded correctional system.
The Conservatives offered supportive rhetoric about the Crisis in Corrections when they were in opposition, but OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says there has been no action since they took power.
“Soothing words won’t make our correctional institutions safer, it’s time for Doug Ford to do something,” Thomas said. Significant investments are needed in Ontario’s correctional system to ensure the safety of staff, offenders and our communities.”
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer, himself a correctional worker, says governments have stuck their heads in the sand for too long when it comes to Ontario’s corrections system.
“I know from personal experience how our frontline corrections workers are holding things together, but they’re not miracle workers,” Almeida said. “Our workplaces are unsafe – and becoming more dangerous with each day the government sits on its hands.”
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613 -329-1931
Chris Jackel, firstname.lastname@example.org