Here’s a lovely little Christmas gift from dear old Uncle Rob.
This week, notices went out to the 543 employees working at the Barrie
Jail, Parry Sound Jail, Guelph Correctional Centre and the Burtch
Correctional Centre. Members have until Dec. 22 to decide whether to leave
the Ministry, or go to the privatized Penetanguishene superjail.
That’s three days before Christmas.
Well, we guess we shouldn’t really expect much else from a Minister
who castigates his staff in the press, ignores staff concerns, refuses to
listen to the public and is completely out of touch with the goings-on in
his own Ministry.
In fact, from now on we should just refer to our Minister as “3M”
Sampson. The three “M’s” we are referring to are Mismanagement,
Misdirection and Misinformation.
Let’s start with Mismanagement.
On Tuesday, Nov. 21, Provincial Auditor Erik Peters released a scathing
report on the Corrections Ministry showing that the planned superjails
were not supported by any sound business plans. Peters pointed out that
with respect to privatization, the Ministry did not properly consider the
costs and benefits of feasible alternatives to the superjails. The
Ministry also did not properly assess the risks involved when transferring
operations to the private sector, and did not properly balance the
interests of the public.
Sound familiar? It should. OPSEU has been saying this for over 12
Peters also found that the security retrofits at the Toronto East and
Toronto West Detention Centres, at a cost of $14 million, had yet to save
any money. Peters also discovered that the new $5 million Cook Chill
kitchen at Maplehurst Complex actually cost $9.5 million to build, and
that retrofitting the institutional kitchens receiving food from the Cook
Chill will cost $3.9 million, as opposed to the $100,000 the Ministry
estimated. Lastly, the report found that the Cook Chill won’t likely be
able to produce meals any cheaper than the jails do now.
This is management at its finest.
Now, on to Misdirection.
Sampson knew that this damning report was coming out, so he decided to
throw up a smoke screen to salvage the Ministry. This is more commonly
known as the “Politician Shuffle Dance.”
On Monday, Nov. 20, the day before the report was released, Sampson
announced legislation to “increase public safety” and make corrections
“tougher and more accountable.” (Step to the left, cha, cha, cha.)
Sampson now wants mandatory drug testing for inmates and parolees, and
wants to implement a new earned remission system. (Step to right, cha,
cha, cha.) Sampson says that this is part of his “strict discipline
approach” and will make inmates accountable for their actions. (Take two
steps back, cha, cha, spin.)
Stop the music. This same Minister who wants mandatory drug testing is
the same Minister who canceled funding that brought drug-sniffing dogs
into the jails on a regular basis. And who will do this testing, Rob?
Right now, institutional nurses can barely keep up with tuberculosis
testing, let alone drug testing.
A new earned remission program? One of the ways that offenders will be
able to “earn” their remission is to attend educational and
work-skills programs. Sampson canceled all of those.
Were free mirrors handed out with all that smoke?
Now, let’s talk about Misinformation.
When the affected members at the four jails linked to Penetanguishene
received their notices on Tuesday, they also received a Ministry “Question
and Answer” document that was supposed to explain members’ rights and
entitlements. OPSEU received that document at the same time. Normally,
OPSEU receives it in advance.
There’s good reason for this. It gives OPSEU the opportunity to go
through the document to check for errors. There was no opportunity to do
this, and guess what? The document is full of errors.
Sampson also made no bones in the press that sick time in the Ministry
was “unacceptable.” What he failed to mention was that he refuses to
hire full-time staff to fill vacancies, and that overcrowded conditions in
the jails is making life unbearable for workers. Hmmm…wonder why sick
time is high, Rob?
In the meantime, we will continue to get the message out to the public
about the dangerous, careless and impractical path that our Minister has
chosen to follow. With 147 municipalities now opposing privatization, that’s
a lot of voters to simply ignore and cast aside. Perhaps the favour will
be returned in the next Ontario election. Does Wackenhut have any
positions open for ex-ministers?
Eight guards were injured, two seriously, during a prison uprising at
New Mexico’s privately run Torrance County Detention Facility on
Saturday, Nov. 11. Correctional officers were taken hostage by 32 inmates,
The riot began shortly after midnight and was quelled after about two
hours when authorities threw tear gas into the area, State Police Lt. Gary
None of the inmates was injured in the fighting, Smith said.
Fifteen of the 32 were directly involved in the assaults, and charges
will be filed against them, said prison spokeswoman Abby Fink.
The uprising began after inmates refused to go to their cells for the
night, Smith said. Inmates beat and stabbed guards with pieces of torn-up
furniture from their cells, she said.
Two guards stabbed during the disturbance underwent surgery and were in
serious condition Saturday, Fink said.
Five others were in stable condition, and one guard was treated at the
Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America operates the prison,
about 40 miles east of Albuquerque. It has been the site of several
disturbances in recent years.