Crisis in Corrections, no solution without OPSEU front-liners

Warren (Smokey) Thomas said there was a big problem when senior managers lie to the minister.

Toronto (04 April 2016) — Warren (Smokey) Thomas says a real transformation of Ontario’s correctional system must be rooted in the experience of front-line workers.

Naqvi admits he was "misinformed" about conditions

The comment from the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) came in the wake of Corrections Minister Yasir Naqvi’s admission that he had been “misinformed” by senior management on the issue of housing inmate in shower cells.

Speaking on CFRA News Talk Radio on March 29, Thomas said there was a big problem when senior managers lie to the Minister.

New task force must hear from front-line workers

“That’s one reason I’m pleased the Minister is striking a task force,” he added. “It’s something that we’ve long been calling for, and it must include union representatives and staff from the ministries of Corrections, Health and Long-Term Care, and Community Services. They can give you front-line experience of what happens to people with mental illness and developmental disabilities."

“And as everyone now knows, we can’t rely on senior managers for advice on transforming our corrections system," Thomas said.

OPSEU President sends condolences to family and friends 

On March 29, an inmate died at the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre. He was one of three people crowded into a cell in the health care unit. He is said to have been sleeping on the cell floor.

“My condolences go out to the individual’s family members,” said Thomas. “It's a horrible day — the worst possible outcome with anything you can ever imagine. My heart goes out to the loved ones of the individual."

“The crisis in Corrections continues, and this is just a tragic way to drive home that point. If senior management won’t tell the Minister the truth, then we will," committed Thomas.

Listen to Thomas' interview here.


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

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