Budget ignores crisis in corrections: OPSEU
Toronto - The Ontario Budget does not come close to addressing the crisis in correctional services in Ontario, the head of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.
"For a long time now we've been telling the province that corrections needs an emergency injection of $100 million so we can start getting on top of the crisis in our institutions and in our probation and parole offices," Warren (Smokey) Thomas said today. "The understaffing, the overcrowding, and the violence are no joke. We are beyond disappointed to see that the government has not heard us."
The budget contains an increase of $112 million for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. However, $70 million of that is for the police radio network and $18 million is for municipalities for court security costs. That leaves $13 million for closed-circuit televisions and body scanners for jails and offices plus $11 million for capital costs to convert the Roy McMurtry Youth Centre into a centre for adult female offenders.
"We desperately needs hundreds more correctional officers, but I don't see any money in this Budget for staff," Thomas said. "This is a grievous mistake. I just hope it's not a fatal one for my members, the public, or the offenders we work with."
Over the last three months, the OPSEU president has taken several MPPs on tours of correctional facilities across the province, including Corrections Minister Yasir Naqvi.
"The members of this government cannot claim they don't know what's happening in corrections," Thomas said. "They've seen it up close, from the riot-ruined Thunder Bay District Jail to the squalid Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.
"MPPs should expect to see OPSEU members who work in corrections knocking on their doors very soon."