Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

January 24, 2007 15:21 ET

Casselman Calls on Public Safety Minister to Investigate Jail Incident

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 24, 2007) - OPSEU President Leah Casselman is calling on Public Safety Minister Monte Kwinter to investigate after health and safety refusals at the North Bay Jail were validated by the Ministry of Labour. Casselman is concerned that management actions at the jail, if left unchallenged, could lead to problems at other Ontario facilities.

"This was a clear case of managers making incomprehensible decisions that could have seriously endangered our members," Casselman said. "This kind of behaviour is intolerable in a maximum-security jail."

Casselman is referring to an incident on Jan. 11, 2007 when correctional officers were ordered to remove an inmate armed with a razor from a cell. Staff refused, requesting that the jail's specially-trained extraction team be utilized. This led to a 13-hour labour relations stand-off between union officials and management before management was overruled by the Labour ministry.

"This kind of poor decision-making sends a message to other inmates in Ontario jails that violent behaviour will not be dealt with decisively," Casselman said. "That message can have a serious impact on the safety of every correctional officer in the province."

The Ministry of Labour ruled in favour of the refusing correctional officers. They have issued orders that include training for supervisors and for management to provide proper information to staff when a dangerous incident arises.

Casselman asks the Minister to immediately investigate the roles played by jail management and to ensure that there will be no reprisals against staff who were trying to maintain safety and security, including the local union president who was suspended shortly after the incident.

"We need strong assurances from the Minister that safety is their main priority and that staff will be protected," Casselman said. "This sort of incident should never have happened in the first place."

Contact Information

  • OPSEU Communications
    Don Ford
    (416) 788-9104
    Local 616 President
    Mike Bisaillon
    (705) 492-8818 or (705) 495-0543