Windsor

Ontario correctional centres workers strongly reject new contract

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union says the three-year deal reached Nov. 23 was rejected by a 67-per-cent margin.

When tentative deal was signed, province said it would not add to its expenditures in effort to balance books

OPSEU President Warren Smokey Thomas, seen in this file photo, says his union's rejection of a new contract for correctional officers is a wake-up call for Premier Kathleen Wynne. (Canadian Press)

Workers at correctional institutions across Ontario have rejected a tentative contract agreement with the province.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union says the three-year deal reached Nov. 23 was rejected by a 67-per-cent margin.

Details of the tentative deal covering 5,500 employees in provincial jails, correctional facilities, youth centres and probation and parole offices have not been released.

In a statement, OPSEU president Warren "Smokey" Thomas said he is not surprised by the results of the vote because the government "didn't even come close" to addressing what he calls a "crisis in correctional services in this province."

Thomas said probation and parole officers struggle with the highest caseloads in the country, while spending per offender is the second-lowest.

Moreover, said Thomas, "lethal weapons are being brought into parole offices but the government stubbornly refuses to install metal detectors, putting officers' lives needlessly in jeopardy."

"This is a wake-up call for (Premier) Kathleen Wynne," added Thomas. "I call on this government to come back to the bargaining table with proposals that recognize the extraordinary skills, commitment and courage required of correctional staff."

When the tentative deal was signed, the province said it would not add to government expenditures as it battles to balance its books.

The rejection of the deal comes just a week after the province announced it hired 91 new correctional officers.

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