OFL urgesOntario Public Service: Save our Jails!! Build a Strong Community
The Hon. Dalton McGuinty
Premier of Ontario
Room 281, Queen"s Park
Toronto, ON M7AlA
Dear Premier McGuinty:
I have been receiving correspondence from citizens in the Huron-Bruce area regarding the decision by your government to close the jails at Owen Sound and Walkerton. These letters are outlining how this decision will affect the families of the Corrections Officers, the accused and convicted, as well as mental health and police and court services.
The closure of these jails will have a negative impact on at least 100 families of workers at these facilities. Many of these families will have to relocate, causing great upheaval for the children who will have to move to new schools. Families moving away will decrease the tax base in the area and services will suffer. In some cases I am hearing of families that will be separated because one spouse will have to move, leaving the family behind, in order for both spouses to remain employed.
Your government states that the jails in question are underutilized and over budget. The workers report that, in fact, these jails are at times over crowded and, in the case of Owen Sound, under budget.
It"s not just the families of the staff that are affected. Many of the inmates serve time on weekends allowing them to keep jobs and support their families. This will not be the case if these inmates are housed in Penetanguishene. In addition, many of these inmates are there because of addiction. They receive help and support through AA, and their families. If they are housed away from their families the risk of continuing the behavior that put them in jail in the first place increases. More of these inmates returning to jail will increase costs. as will the transportation of inmates over greater distances for court appearances.
I urge you to give some thought to the hardships that your decision will have on the citizens and the economy of the region. Stop the closures pending a full public review of the decision and begin consultations with local stakeholder groups which will be adversely affected by the shut down. Search for a compromise that achieves your budgetary goals without devastating this area of the province.
Ontario Federation of Labour
cc: James J. Bradley. Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President, OPSEU