Minister ignores deteriorating conditions inside B.C. prisons: BCGEU

"Our provincial prisons are increasingly violent for both the inmates and the men and women who work there. The problems cannot be ignored.” — Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President

Vancouver (22 March 2016) — The B..C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) is surprised and disappointed that the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General has dismissed safety concerns in the province's correctional centres.On March 16, responding during Question Period in the legislature, Minister Mike Morris stated “…safety is not an issue in any of the correctional centres that we have in B.C.”

“Our union disagrees in the strongest terms,” said BCGEU President Stephanie Smith.

1,846 incidents of prison violence over 2 years

Correctional officer-to-inmate ratios have climbed dramatically since 2001. Fifteen years ago, one correctional officer was responsible for staffing a living unit with approximately 20 inmates. Today, that ratio has climbed to as high as one Correctional Officer in a living unit with 72 inmates. The new correctional centre in the Okanagan has been designed and is being built with a ratio of one officer to 72 inmates.

“As these ratios have climbed, violent assaults inside the prisons have increased. The government’s own statistics show there were 893 incidents of prisoner violence in 2014 and already 953 by the end of September 2015."Our numbers indicate the levels of violence are even higher,” said Dean Purdy, BCGEU Vice-President Corrections and Sheriff Services. “In 2015, there were 24 assaults on staff at Surrey Pretrial Services Centre. This year there have already been 13 assaults on staff.”

BCGEU/NUPGE to meet with minister over prison violence and safety 

Stephanie Smith and Dean Purdy will be meeting with Minister Mike Morris later this month. “We will take this opportunity to discuss prison violence with the Minister and persuade him that prison safety is a serious issue. Our provincial prisons are increasingly violent for both the inmates and the men and women who work there,” said Smith. “The problems cannot be ignored.”


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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