Occupation of federal government ministers’ offices
The following message was delivered this morning to Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews, Treasury Board President Tony Clement and Industry Minister Christian Paradis:
Members of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN) are occupying your office today for the following series of reasons:
Your government’s recent announcement that it will close three penitentiaries – Kingston Penitentiary, Regional Treatment Centre (Ontario) and Leclerc Institution – contradicts the publicly expressed goal of “Safe Streets and Communities” and will put correctional officers at risk:
1. By increasing overcrowding and double-bunking at a time of growing inmate populations due to the government’s “tough-on-crime” agenda;
2. By artificially lowering security classifications for dangerous inmates;
3. By mixing incompatible inmate populations (for example, members of organized-crime groups);
4. By dispersing inmates with serious mental-health problems to unsuitable institutions;
5. By failing in the mission to rehabilitate offenders as access to programs is reduced.
Since 2006, the Conservative government has broken faith with federal correctional officers on a number of issues:
1. By failing to honour its commitment to pass a Blood Samples Act to protect victims of exposures to bodily fluids;
2. By failing to honour its commitment to peg salaries and working conditions to those of RCMP officers;
3. By failing to honour its signature on a ratified collective agreement when it implemented legislation to unilaterally reduce a negotiated salary increase;
4. By failing to honour its commitment to negotiate pension improvements;
5. By failing to give a mandate to government negotiators to renew a collective agreement that expired two years ago.
Disrespect for democratic values
Your government’s actions have contravened democratic norms in a number of ways:
1. By failing to consult affected stakeholders when implementing wholesale change to the Correctional Service, among them the front-line professionals who are responsible for ensuring the safety of the Canadian public;
2. By an unnecessary and damaging insistence on secrecy, a practice that is not consistent with democratic standards;
3. By refusing to engage in good-faith debate.
We call on the government to:
1. Reverse the decision to close Kingston Penitentiary, Regional Treatment Centre and Leclerc Institution unless and until suitable replacement institutions are constructed;
2. Meet the government’s commitments to correctional officers regarding salaries, pensions and working conditions;
3. Legislate a Blood Samples Act;
4. Engage in meaningful consultations with correctional officers regarding the evolution of Correctional Service Canada.