UCCO-SACC-CSN’s members have been misled.
We were misled into believing that the 2012 federal budget would not carry important impacts for correctional officers. That turns out to be untrue.
We were told there would be no impact on security for our members and the public. Untrue.
Above all, we’ve been led to believe that the leadership of Correctional Service Canada has a reliable long-term plan for the Service. By all indications, this is now also untrue.
On Monday, only a few days after the commissioner confidently assured us that CSC would be able to manage its budget reductions through attrition with minimal impacts on its frontline staff, we were informed of major changes coming to CSC. The government plans to:
Close Kingston Penitentiary in 18 months;
Close Leclerc Institution in 18months;
Close Regional Treatment Centre (Ontario) in 18 months.
More than 600 correctional officers will be affected by this plan, which appears to have been concocted in haste, secrecy and with minimal research into the impacts on operational security.
UCCO-SACC-CSN should have been consulted.
As it stands now, the plan must change.
We also are left with many questions. Among them:
Why is the so-called «Transformation Agenda» so disorganized? Why do the government and CSC engage in a massive staff expansion only to radically change direction, slam the door on recruitment and prepare to transfer hundreds of employees?
Why have predictions for the growth of the inmate population been so wrong?
Despite the overstated targets, do these closures and redeployments truly account for the backlogs in provincial remand systems that will eventually be coming to the federal system?
In this vein, are there reliable estimates for the impact on the inmate population of the C-10 omnibus legislation that is about to come into effect?
How much money will the closures of these three institutions save? How much will it cost?
Why can we not deal with the real problems in CSC, at the top of the list, double bunking?
Above all, is anyone piloting this ship?
Kingston Penitentiary cannot be closed overnight without major impacts on the Service, its staff, inmates and, ultimately, the public.
A large majority of the 400 inmates at maximum security Kingston Pen – many of whom suffer from mental illness – are in segregated populations. The union does not believe that these inmates can be easily absorbed by other institutions in the region without major security problems, despite the new units that will be coming into operation.
For one thing, only 192 new maximum-security cells are scheduled to open in Ontario over the next couple years. So what does this mean? A massive increase in double bunking of our most dangerous inmates in the Ontario region.
Furthermore, KP houses the regional hospital for CSC Ontario. Is the Service prepared to build a new hospital at another institution?
This institution is a high medium-security penitentiary that is built to current operational standards. It is not obsolete. It has always been maintained at the highest security standards. This public investment is about to be thrown away at huge cost to Canadian taxpayers.
Many inmates at Leclerc belong to powerful crime organizations and require careful management. These inmates will not be easily absorbed by other institutions.
It is true that there is capacity elsewhere in the Quebec region, but this transfer of staff and inmates will cause major disruptions and add significant relocation costs. Nor does it appear to leave required capacity for future increases in the inmate population.
Regional Treatment Centre, Ontario
This institution houses highly disturbed mental health cases in CSC. The 130 inmates at RTC cannot be safely transferred to general population ranges in other institutions. With all the high-profile problems related to mental health in CSC, this closure gives us great concern.
What is the plan?
We are left with the impression that CSC is a vehicle being driven by a teenager with a learner’s permit. First we are rushing along at breakneck speed with the accelerator jammed to the floor. Then we slam on the brakes just at a time when the traffic around us is speeding up. This is a dangerous way to operate that suggests that there is not a competent driver at the wheel.
How else does CSC and the government explain the massive hiring spree of the last few years, with projections for thousands more, a spree that ends with a screeching stop and what now appears to be a reorganization of activities in an atmosphere of panic?
Where is the calm, rational and informed leadership that knows where we are going and bases its decisions on a long- term vision supported by transparent, verifiable research? Instead the leadership of this key public agency appears to operate in an atmosphere of secrecy, distrust and paranoia. Some transformation. Some agenda.
If this reality is to change, UCCO-SACC-CSN must be truly consulted and its input taken into account. Otherwise, CSC and the government must be prepared to encounter determined opposition.
UCCO-SACC-CSN will remain vigilant on the issue of officer, staff, and inmate safety within the correctional system, and in the community. We intend to use our in-depth knowledge of the correctional environment, to safeguard the integrity of Canadian corrections With all the high-profile problems related to mental health in CSC, this closure gives us great concern.