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OPSEU/SEFPO applauds government for installing fentanyl-detecting scanners at 10 jails

Toronto – Front-line Correctional Workers and inmates at 10 jails across the province will be safer now that the government has answered OPSEU/SEFPO’s calls for “ion scanners” that can detect dangerous substances like fentanyl.

“Plain and simple, this is an investment that will save lives,” said OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “I’m grateful the members of my union kept urging government to provide these scanners, and I’m pleased to see the government take action.”

The new scanners are capable of detecting a variety of contraband drugs, including the potent and dangerous fentanyl, which can cause serious harm in even incredibly small exposures.

In 2019, for example, three inmates and three Correctional Officers at the Sarnia Jail had to be rushed to hospital after fentanyl exposure.

“We’ve all been so focussed on the COVID-19 pandemic that it’s easy to forget that the opioid crisis has dropped out of the headlines,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, who is himself a Correctional Officer. “But our members on the front lines are painfully aware that opioids like fentanyl are still out there causing incredible harm.”

Chris Jackel, the Chair of OPSEU/SEFPO’s Corrections Division, says this is the latest in a series of positive steps that the government has been taking, including commitments to hire new Correctional Workers, build new jails, and increase investments in training and mental health.

“OPSEU/SEFPO members have been raising this concern for a while,” said Jackel. “We’ll never stop speaking up for the safety of workers, inmates, and the entire community, and it’s encouraging that we have a high level of collaboration with this government, and, that they are supporting us.

“We know this government is listening.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931

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