MONCTON, NB, June 25, 2018 /CNW Telbec/ - Members of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN) are demonstrating today in front of the office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Canada's Minister of Health. They are asking the government to reverse its decision on the implementation of the Prison Needle Exchange Program (PNEP), a decision that was made without any consultation. The program will provide needles to inmates with addiction.
Despite the constant opposition of the union, two pilot projects are set to begin this week: one today in Ontario and the other on Wednesday, in Atlantic Institution. "Too many questions remain," said Jeff Wilkins, UCCO-SACC-CSN Atlantic Regional President. "Since the official announcement of the PNEP one month ago, UCCO-SACC-CSN has been trying to get some answers on how the program will work. Correctional Service Canada (CSC) has been unable to give any clarification on critical issues such as, 'What will we do if a needle that was given to an inmate is nowhere to be found?'"
For correctional officers across the country, this program represents a dangerous turning point. It contradicts CSC's zero-tolerance policy on drugs and is a major breach of the CSC mission, which is to contribute to public safety by actively encouraging and assisting offenders to become law-abiding citizens. "A large number of inmates committed their crime while being on drugs," continued Mr. Wilkins. "We believe that a big part of our job as correctional officers is to do everything we can to ensure that when inmates return to the community outside the walls, they are no longer a danger to themselves or others."
The union feels that the government should invest in the care and treatment of inmates who are drug addicts or carriers of infectious diseases instead of encouraging criminal activity inside the institutions. "What we're doing right now with the methadone program and other initiatives is working," said Mr. Wilkins. "The prevalence of hepatitis C declined inside the walls from 32% in 2007 to 8% in 2017, and the prevalence of HIV in the same period declined from 2% to 1.2%. There's absolutely no reason to implement such a dangerous program, which is going to be a real operational nightmare."
About the Union
The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN) represents over 7400 members in the five major regions of Canada: the Pacific, the Prairies, Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic. UCCO-SACC-CSN represents correctional officers in 49 federal institutions.
SOURCE UNION OF CANADIAN CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS (UCCO-SACC-CSN)
For further information: Katerine Desgroseilliers, Communications Adviser--CSN, [email protected], 514-265-4250