Dismissal of five correctional officers “undermines the justice system”: OPSEU | National Union of Public and General Employees

Dismissal of five correctional officers “undermines the justice system”: OPSEU

“From the beginning, the Ministry resisted making changes. Now, lives have been lost and the very people who raised the concerns are being fired. This is heart-breaking on all levels.” — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President.

Toronto (08 Sept. 2014) — The union representing Ontario’s front-line correctional officers says that the dismissal of five correctional officers at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC) “undermines the justice system” considering these are in relation to a criminal case which is still before the courts.

Dismissal of five correctional officers troubling since related case is still in front of the courts

The charges are in relation to the murder of 29-year-old Adam Harvey Kargus, an inmate at the maximum security facility, on November 1 of last year. Another inmate was charged in his death.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said that his union has been sounding the alarm about problems at EMDC and other provincial jails for years without a response from the Ministry.

“We are saddened by this death and send our condolences to the family of the victim,” Thomas said. “While we cannot comment on the specifics of these dismissals as they are before the courts and now the grievance process, we find it gravely troubling that front-line officers are being held out as the scapegoats for a broken correctional system that the government fails to address.”  

Thomas said that the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services must face the fact that this facility is overcrowded, has an outdated design and lacks the proper staffing, staff training and security equipment to deal with the day-to-day problems inside.

Workers have been raising concerns regarding problem at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre for two years

“For over 24 months we have said that tragedies would occur at EMDC unless the problems that have been identified by front-line officers were fixed,” Thomas said. “From the beginning, the Ministry resisted making changes. Now, lives have been lost and the very people who raised the concerns are being fired. This is heart-breaking on all levels.”

The Ministry continues to fail in making substantial, useful changes while the violence in provincial jails continues to increase to the highest levels in the country. In 2013, there were 2,890 inmate on inmate assaults and 855 inmate on staff assaults. 

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