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Union president renews call for Matthews to tour detention centres

(TORONTO) – Warren (Smokey) Thomas says his invitation to take Deb Matthews on a tour of the Toronto South or Elgin-Middlesex detention centres stands.

“I’ve already reached out to the Deputy Premier twice,” said Thomas. “She and every MPP need to take a good, hard look at what we’re facing in corrections. The agreement we reached with this government on the weekend can only be the first step in fixing the crisis.

“The Liberals finally got the message that we were dead serious about the crisis in corrections. Now it’s their turn to take it seriously. Chronic understaffing has led to escalating lockdowns across the province. Combined with severe overcrowding, these lockdowns can mean three inmates spend days locked up in a cell built for one. It’s a powder keg waiting for a spark.

“Further inaction is not an option.”

Speaking on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Yasir Naqvi said the agreement reached with corrections workers will clear the way to “transforming” Ontario’s correctional system.

According to the OPSEU president, if Naqvi truly wants to transform Ontario’s correctional system, then he has to talk to Ontario’s correctional staff. “Our members are best placed to provide advice on cleaning up the mess,” he said. “That’s one reason I offered every MPP an opportunity to tour their local correctional facility.

“To date, while NDP and Conservative MPPs have taken me up on my offer, not one Liberal member has agreed to tour a jail. I continue to hope that Minister Matthews will decide to tour Toronto South or Elgin‑Middlesex. Further, I believe it would be in both the public and the government’s interest to allow the media to tour their local correctional facility. I always say, if you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”

Thomas added, “We’re looking for swift, meaningful and cost-effective action. I’m serving notice that on this, as on every other issue of vital interest to Ontarians, we will be holding the Liberals’ feet to the fire.”

For more information:

Timothy Humphries
A/Communications Officer, OPSEU
416-443-8888, ext. 8775

Related: Crisis In Corrections Index Page