The union representing workers at Cecil Facer Youth Centre in Sudbury says cutting jobs and beds at the facility isn't an ideal long-term solution.

The detention centre for young men is only half-full, so the province is cutting it down. A total of 16 beds are set to go, along with the 49 staff jobs.

Those guards and teachers affected are members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. The union’s president, Warren "Smokey" Thomas said the cutbacks don’t come as a surprise.

"The reason I'm not shocked is they're trying to save money anywhere they can get it," he said. "But these are the types of savings I don't think really reach savings over the long-term for a community."

Thomas said the province should instead transfer some adult inmates to Cecil Facer, saving jobs and easing overcrowding at Ontario prisons.

Helping youth focus on empathy

The province has said the cuts have been made because community programs are successfully keeping young offenders out of custody.

John Rimore, the executive director of the John Howard Society of Sudbury, said the 225 young offenders who would be in the centre are now instead taking music, anger management and other programs through his organization.

"More than anything else, [we need] help to teach these youth to focus on a skill called empathy that says ‘No, you're not the only person in the world,’" Rimore said.

Rimore said this change has been happening slowly since 2003, when the provincial government started pushing community programs, instead of incarceration.