The President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says that a meeting held today with Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur was productive, and has a commitment from the Minister to immediately begin fixing problems at London's Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC).
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, along with Provincial Corrections union chair Dan Sidsworth, EMDC Local union president Trish Godin and union representatives from the facility met with the Minister today after Meilleur apologized for comments made in the Legislature Tuesday about correctional staff in London.
"The meeting went very well," Thomas said. "The Minister was sincere in her concerns for the safety of our correctional members, and was grateful to hear from the union the realities of the working conditions inside that jail."
Union officials also gave the Minister a first-hand account of staff bravery the previous night during a major disturbance inside the facility. "Meilleur learned that staff went above and beyond the call of duty, risking their own lives to evacuate inmates to safety," Thomas said. "These men and women deserve commendations for their actions."
Thomas said that he now has firm commitments directly from the Minister that should ease the situation at EMDC. "The Minister has promised to address the physical infrastructure security issues by the end of June, and will get back to me within a week of staffing issues," Thomas said. "We also have a commitment to continue to meet with the Minister on local and provincial corrections issues."
Thomas also said that this is a good foundation that the union and Ministry can build on. "Our members are in a dangerous, vital job, and I'm glad that Minister Meilleur is giving them the attention they deserve. If we can continue on this path, it will lead to much-needed improvements and will ultimately save lives." . Our union has given its full commitment to achieving this. It's up to the Minister now to fulfill her promises."
Warren (Smokey) Thomas 416 443-8888