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OPSEU applauds bill to create “Corrections Week”

Toronto – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is glad to hear that Ontario MPPs have unanimously approved legislation to proclaim the first week in May as Correctional Services Staff Recognition Week.

Bill 116, the Correctional Services Staff Recognition Week Act, 2015, was introduced by Halton MPP Indira Naidoo-Harris a year ago. Halton is home to one of Canada’s largest correctional facilities, Maplehurst Correctional Complex. The bill was given Third Reading yesterday and will become law in Ontario following Royal Assent.

“This is cause for celebration,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of OPSEU, which represents the province’s correctional workers. “Proclaiming this annual observance is a fitting tribute to the hard work, dedication and courage of all staff who work in Ontario’s correctional facilities and probation and parole offices.

“For years, this government ignored the crisis in corrections, and in doing so they also ignored correctional workers and the exceptional work they do – under very difficult circumstances – to keep Ontarians out of harm’s way. This annual observance will go some way to correcting that.”

According to the bill’s preamble, “Correctional services staff dedicate their lives to protecting the public with skill and professionalism. They work hard to keep communities safe. Their public service deserves to be recognized and honoured.”

Monte Vieselmeyer, Chair of OPSEU’s Corrections Division, believes Bill 116 tacitly acknowledges that the work of correctional staff has not been properly recognized.

“It’s a sad fact that while other first responders have received recognition for their work – and rightly so – the courageous service of our corrections and probation and parole staff has been largely overlooked,” said Vieselmeyer.

“I commend Ms. Naidoo-Harris for spearheading this important and long-overdue recognition of Ontario's correctional services staff. But we do need more concrete action from the government to bring stability to Ontario’s correctional system. That, too, is long overdue.”

For more information: Monte Vieselmeyer, 705-627-1942

Related: Crisis In Corrections Index Page