MONTREAL, March 5 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian government's ambitious anti-crime agenda will be difficult to implement with the spending freeze announced in yesterday's federal budget, says the union representing Canada's 6,000 correctional officers.
"There is no way to accommodate the large anticipated increase in the inmate population due to the government's various justice initiatives without a significant increase in resources," said Pierre Mallette, National President of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN).
Mr. Mallette notes that many federal correctional institutions are already overcrowded and obsolete. Placing further stresses on the system without new investments is a recipe for disaster, he said.
"The risks to the public, correctional staff and inmates in overcrowded, insufficiently supervised facilities will be too high. The government must ensure that Correctional Services Canada has the means to do the job it is given," said Mr. Mallette.
As the Governor-General outlined in Wednesday's Throne Speech, new legislation will increase prison sentences for a broad variety of crimes while reducing access to early parole.
In the meantime, the people who face increased risks in an already dangerous system will be expected to work for less pay after inflation is taken into account. Unionized correctional officers will begin negotiations this spring to renew a collective agreement that expires May 31, 2010. The government has already unilaterally cut a negotiated wage increase for the final year of that contract.
The union's members understand that the government is facing financial difficulties, said Mr. Mallette. "In effect, we are facing salary cuts," he added. "But we do not understand how the government can cut taxes for corporations while taking from the people who risk their lives every day protecting Canadians."
SOURCE Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN)
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