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Thunder Bay Correctional Complex construction underway

Two OPSEU/SEFPO local presidents shared their thoughts with CBC News about the construction of the new Thunder Bay Correctional Complex that is underway. Bill Hayes is Local 737 President for the Thunder Bay Jail, and Shawn Bradshaw is Local 708 President for the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre.

For many years, OPSEU/SEFPO’s Correctional Bargaining Unit has been demanding that the government address the staffing crisis and build new and upgraded correctional infrastructure across the province in order to ease overcrowding and provide space for programming, therapy and rehabilitation.

From the article:

Hayes calls the new facility a “refreshing investment” from the government, and suspects the institution will serve the north well. “It’s going to ease the pressure eventually, but it’s still at least four years away, so we’re still going to have these issues until that time.”

The major issue at the jail, Hayes said, remains overcrowding. On the weekend, the inmate count there was nearly 160; the official capacity is 137. “We had inmates, because we had no space, living in our admitting and discharge area,” Hayes said.

Both Bradshaw and Hayes said corrections officers had input into the design of the new facility, which will include mental health supports, programming space, greenhouse, and secure yard.

“[The architects] understand Ontario is not very interested in warehousing inmates anymore,” [Bradshaw] said. “They’re interested in rehabilitating those that can be rehabilitated, so the idea is have more therapeutic environments and treatment options.”