Since an announcement by the government to introduce the Prison Needle Exchange Program (PNEP) in our workplace, we have adamantly opposed this new initiative and taken the following actions;
• Mobilized nationally (wore badges opposing the program), info pickets at all sites.
• Lobbied all members of parliament (all parties) with a written letter of our concerns and in several face-to-face meetings including the Minister of Public Safety & Minister of Health.
• Lobbied all members of the Senate Committee.
• Have been present in the media to make our position known.
• We have researched thoroughly other prison jurisdictions and public injection sites to identify issues related to this type of program. We have consulted with the unions’ legal & research department.
• We have presented our concerns, objections and policy flaws at the NHSPC committee and assisted in preparing health & safety complaints on the matter for those sites affected so far with the current policy.
• Raised concerns at all levels of labour management forums (local, regional & national) including specific examples of current program policy violations by inmates on the program.
• We have held several public demonstrations across Canada including Moncton, Saskatoon, Regina, Kitchener and Miramichi.
• We have been able to significantly slow down a rollout of a PNEP at all institutions which was supposed to begin in January 2019. We have been abundantly clear that the PNEP represents all kinds of moral, operational and safety issues for Correctional Officers. We have also made it clear that harm reduction strategies are a health care issue, not an issue for Correctional Officers to manage. Our collective efforts have paid off somewhat and now CSC will pilot an overdose prevention site, under the control of health care professionals at one site.
This removes Correctional Officers from having to manage this program on the ranges with needles in cells, which poses several issues for Correctional Officers, mainly health & safety issues. We will continue to oppose this program with the government and with a looming federal election on the horizon we will be asking those who are seeking re-election and whoever forms the next government to reconsider this decision of introducing such a ridiculous policy in our already dangerous workplace and abolish any PNEP behind the walls.
SAFETY OF OUR MEMBERS IS OUR PRIORITY.