TORONTO, March 30, 2016 /CNW/ - Warren (Smokey) Thomas says a real transformation of Ontario's correctional system must be rooted in the experience of frontline workers.
The comment from the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union came in the wake of Corrections Minister Yasir Naqvi's admission that he had been "misinformed" by senior management on the issue of inmate housing in shower cells.
Speaking on CFRA News Talk Radio on Tuesday, Thomas said there was a big problem when senior managers lie to the minister.
"That's one reason I'm pleased the minister is striking a task force," he added. "It's something that we've long been calling for, and it must include union representatives and staff from the ministries of Corrections, Health and Long-Term Care, and Community Services. They can give you frontline experience of what happens to people with mental illness and developmental disabilities.
"And as everyone now knows, we can't rely on senior managers for advice on transforming our corrections system."
Yesterday, an inmate died at the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre. He was one of three people crowded into a cell in the health care unit. He is said to have been sleeping on the cell floor.
"My condolences go out to the individual's family members," said Thomas. "It's a horrible day – the worst possible outcome with anything you can ever imagine. My heart goes out to the loved ones of the individual.
"The crisis in corrections continues, and this is just a tragic way to drive home that point. If senior management won't tell the minister the truth, then we will."
SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
For further information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931