“There are some 45,000 offenders serving their sentences in the community and only 865 probation and parole officers to supervise them. Now we know that 10 per cent of these offenders have fallen off the government’s radar."— Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President
Toronto (17 May 2017) — The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) is calling on the provincial government to provide an immediate funding boost to reduce the number of outstanding arrest warrants for alleged probation and conditional sentence violations.
Ontario probation and parole officers have highest caseloads — and parolee recidivism — in Canada
The union, which represents 865 probation and parole officers across Ontario, is reacting to information obtained through a freedom of information request that indicates 4,500 warrants are outstanding for the arrest of offenders in violation of the conditions of their community sentence.
Scott McIntyre, a probation and parole officer and union representative, said he was not really surprised by the figure, given that Ontario probation and parole officers have the highest caseloads in the country, while the provincial government is second last when it comes to funding per offender serving a community sentence.
“We also have the highest rate of recidivism in Canada,” he added. “That’s hardly surprising when you know how little the government invests in community corrections. And we’re being starved. I’m hoping now they’ll take the situation seriously, because until the government makes those investments, it’s endangering the safety and security of our communities.”
865 officers to manage 45,000 offenders in the community
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President, said the high number of outstanding arrest warrants was yet another symptom of the government neglect at the root of the crisis in corrections.
“Whether it be institutional or community corrections, the correctional system in this province is critically underfunded,” he said. “There are some 45,000 offenders serving their sentences in the community and only 865 probation and parole officers to supervise them. Now we know that 10 per cent of these offenders have fallen off the government’s radar."
“That’s what comes of starving public services that are designed to serve and protect our communities,” Thomas continued. “Correctional staff are begging for the resources they need to do their jobs on behalf of Ontarians, but this government is dragging its feet. Meanwhile, the crisis in corrections just gets worse.
“The crisis in community corrections needs dollars, not words," Thomas said.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 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