Toronto – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is calling on the provincial government to provide an immediate funding boost to reduce the number of outstanding arrest warrants for alleged probation and conditional sentence violations.
The union, which represents 865 probation and parole officers in the province, is reacting to information obtained through a freedom of information request that indicates 4,500 warrants are outstanding for the arrest of offenders in violation of the conditions of their community sentence.
Scott McIntyre, a probation and parole officer and union representative, said he was not really surprised by the figure, given that Ontario probation and parole officers have the highest caseloads in the country, while the provincial government is second-last when it comes to funding per offender serving a community sentence.
“We also have the highest rate of recidivism in Canada,” he added. “That’s hardly surprising when you know how little the government invests in community corrections. And we’re being starved. I’m hoping now they’ll take the situation seriously, because until the government makes those investments, it’s endangering the safety and security of our communities.”
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said the high number of outstanding arrest warrants was yet another symptom of the government neglect at the root of the crisis in corrections.
“Whether it be institutional or community corrections, the correctional system in this province is critically underfunded,” he said. “There are some 45,000 offenders serving their sentences in the community and only 865 probation and parole officers to supervise them. Now we know that 10 per cent of these offenders have fallen off the government’s radar.
“That’s what comes of starving public services that are designed to serve and protect our communities,” Thomas continued. “Correctional staff are begging for the resources they need to do their jobs on behalf of Ontarians, but this government is dragging its feet. Meanwhile, the crisis in corrections just gets worse.
“The crisis in community corrections needs dollars, not words.”
For more information: Scott R. McIntyre, 705-477-1931; Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931