Guards say new remand centre unsafe
Justice minister says jail will open as scheduled
The union representing correctional officers at the Edmonton Remand Centre wants the province to hold off on transferring prisoners to the new facility until safety concerns are resolved.
The union says it has a list of shortcomings five pages long, which it can't release due to security reasons.
"Like the Titanic without enough lifeboats," said union spokesman Clarke McChesney said. "That's what this feels like."
The $580 million jail — which will be the largest in Canada — is set to soon receive prisoners from the overcrowded facility in downtown Edmonton.
The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees says the province hasn’t yet addressed any of the safety concerns raised over the past number of months.
They want Justice Minister Jonathan Denis to delay the opening so that none of their members is harmed on the job.
"We do believe that walking into that building, and performing their duties in that building, that they will be exposed to unnecessary risks," said AUPE president Guy Smith.
"We will be informing them of their rights under the Occupational Health and Safety Act regarding imminent danger and the right to refuse unsafe work."
But Denis said the move will go as scheduled.
"We've done our own hazard assessments," he said. "Officer safety is always paramount and we have not identified any issues that they had mentioned.
"I'm willing to keep talking about the topic," he added. "However, the remand centre will open as planned."
Sources tell CBC News the move into the new jail begins Friday.
With files from CBC's Janice Johnston