If you’ve seen the news lately, you know there’s a crisis in Corrections.
In December, we saw fires, floods, riots, and a hostage-taking in provincial jails. This month we’ve seen assaults on correctional officers.
Things are bad behind bars, and they’re bad in the community, too: our members in probation and parole have the highest caseloads in Canada. And offenders are bringing weapons into the offices.
It’s a dangerous situation. Staff aren’t safe. Offenders aren’t safe. The public isn’t safe.
Something has to be done. That’s why I invited London North MPP Deb Matthews to come with me on a tour of Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre. I wanted her to see the kind of conditions OPSEU members work in – right there in her own back yard.
She turned me down. She didn’t want to see what she hasn’t seen. She doesn’t want to know what she doesn’t know.
Now, Deb Matthews is not just any MPP. She’s also Deputy Premier and Chair of the Treasury Board. She’s responsible for the Liberals' plan to keeping a lid on spending on public services. In other words, she’s the Minister of Cuts.
She’s been cutting right across the public service. She’s been cutting in health care. She’s been cutting in education. From environmental protection to highway maintenance, Matthews and her beloved Liberals are cutting everywhere. And they’ve been doing it for more than five years.
That’s why public services are in such bad shape today.
That’s why inflation is eating away at your wages.
And that’s why the current crisis is much, much bigger than Corrections.
So as OPSEU members in jails and probation offices ramp up their fight to be treated with respect by their employer, please remember: This is not just their fight. This is our fight.
If you see correctional staff on the picket line this week, don’t pass them by.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union
Related: Crisis In Corrections Index Page