Prisoners relocated as Ontario jail guard walkout looms

Prisoners have been moved from jails in central Ontario as the Sunday deadline nears for a strike by corrections officers.

12:01 a.m. Sunday is deadline for OPSEU jail guards strike

Waren Smokey Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union represents six thousand correctional officers in the province. (Canadian Press file photo)

Prisoners have been moved from jails in central Ontario as the Sunday deadline nears for a strike by corrections officers.

About 6,000 guards and probation officers could walk off the job at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. The province says managers from across the public service will be brought in to run the jails.

There are several provincial jails in the region that could be affected by a walkout.

  • London: Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre.
  • Milton: Maplehurst Correctional Complex.
  • Stratford: Stratford Jail.
  • Milton: Vanier Centre for Women.

Prisoners from the Stratford Jail, a 50-bed facility, have already been transferred to the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre in London, in anticipation of a walkout by corrections officers there.  

Warnings and words

Ontario Deputy Premier Deb Matthews has warned the union representing public service employees  not to encourage workers in other bargaining units to skip work if corrections officers do strike.

Smokey Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, has said he's concerned that the managers won't be able to ensure the safety of the other staff covered under a different contract.

Nurses, maintenance crews and kitchen staff will be expected to report for work, but Thomas has said he has advised them not to go in if they feel unsafe.

Matthews, responding Friday to a letter Thomas sent her Wednesday, said the government is committed to the well-being of its employees.

But she also said the government "will take the steps necessary to address such misconduct" if workers don't show up, as they can address safety concerns through the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

With files from The Canadian Press

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