“I think you’re a good guy, Minister, but we’re going to keep your feet to the fire until this crisis has been fixed.” — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President
Toronto (28 April 2016) — Over 55 correctional, probation and parole officers brought the crisis in corrections to Queen’s Park on April 13 with a lobby day by members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE).
OPSEU President repeats call for task force to get to the root causes of crisis in corrections
Yasir Naqvi, Correctional Services Minister kicked the day off with his remarks which were followed up by words from Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President. Thomas again called on the Minister to strike a task force made up of representatives from the ministries of Labour, Child and Youth Services, and Correctional Services, as well as union officials and front-line workers, to get to the root of the crisis in corrections.
“I think you’re a good guy, Minister,” said Thomas, “but we’re going to keep your feet to the fire until this crisis has been fixed.”
Opposition parties question Ontario government on overcrowded, understaffed and unsafe jails
Correctional workers were warmly received by MPPs in the legislature. During Question Period, both Andrea Horwath, Leader of the ND,P and Patrick Brown, the PC Leader, used their lead-off questions to grill Premier Kathleen Wynne on overcrowded, understaffed and unsafe jails.
Wynne admitted there was a real need for change in corrections, while Naqvi said the status quo in the correctional system could not continue. “The fact that [our correctional partners] are here and we have been having very productive meetings demonstrates that we are focused on developing solutions,” he said in the legislature.
OPSEU/NUPGE shared concern over flawed and costly P3s to build defective, unsafe and overpriced jails
Correctional officers met with 33 MPPs from all three parties over the course of the day. They spoke to the many issues plaguing the correctional system, while condemning the flawed and costly public‑private partnerships used to build defective, unsafe and overpriced jails.
Many correctional officers felt they had made a meaningful difference by appealing directly to members of the legislature. One officer called the day “a watershed moment for the division.”
Successful lobby day encourages other members to speak directly with local MPPs
Monte Vieselmeyer, Chair of OPSEU’s Corrections Division, expressed great satisfaction with the way the day turned out.
“To say our lobby day was a success would be an understatement,” said Vieselmeyer. “I’m extremely proud of our correctional leadership, both community and institutions. They did a tremendous job representing our members and addressing the issues that affect them every day. This will be the springboard to many future Corrections lobby days.
“In the meantime, I would strongly encourage all of our members to meet with their local MPPs in their constituency offices to discuss the issues that are important to them and to Ontario’s correctional system.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE