QUEEN’S PARK—In question period on Thursday, NDP Community Safety and Correctional Services critic Taras Natyshak called on the government to stop ignoring the ongoing crisis in corrections. Natyshak met with correction and probation officers from across the province who were let down by Kathleen Wynne’s failure to deliver on key commitments to make Ontario’s correctional system safer for all those involved.
“Last year the Liberal government spent $50 million to prevent a strike in our province’s jails that never happened,” said Natyshak. “You essentially created a crisis on top of an ongoing crisis. $50 million later and this Liberal government made a promise to recognize that front-line correctional staff are essential and valued members of our public service. Yet, despite these promises to hire new staff, the daily staffing complement has not increased at all.”
Natyshak warned that correctional services has reached a tipping point—with staff shortages, overcrowded and damaged facilities and understaffed nursing stations the new normal in Ontario.
“What these professionals need and deserve is not more platitudes from the government,” said Natyshak. “They need action today. Understaffing; overcrowding; broken and badly planned facilities procured from private sector deals; mothballed nursing stations; and, in the case of the South West Detention Centre, only 17 nurses of a complement of 21 that they need to operate that facility. Some $50 million to avoid a strike, one report and nearly daily headlines about jail deaths and violence, and this government is no closer to addressing the problem.”
“Is this premier as committed today to listen to the front-line staff in our corrections and community safety system, the people that deal with it every day, as she was to throwing $50 million to the wind, hoping that the problem would go away?” asked Natyshak.