The province of Ontario and the Ontario public service employees union have until Sunday at 12:01 am to reach a new contract for correctional officers working in prisons and jails across the province. If a deal isn’t reached in time, then corrections officers will have the legal grounds to walk off the job. The province has prepared a contingency plan in case the strike goes through where management staff from other departments will fill in for the striking officers.
“Health and safety is not up for negotiation, safety is paramount for all of us as Ontarian working in this Province” says Len Elliot, the London region board member for OPSEU. Elliot says that this is a matter of safety for corrections officers and all employees of correctional facilities. Elliot adds that members are looking for what they feel should already be a given in a corrections facility, like body scanners and other security devices. “You think of a person coming to the jail…sneaking in a knife. There are many (types of weapons) that are not detectable by metal detectors. That’s not negotiating, (it’s) something that should already be there”.
He adds that the province’s solution for a strike situation would cost tax payers millions of dollars and could endanger the other employees who are still working in the facilities.