Minister's letter to Correctional Services staff January 2016

Letter from Minister Yasir Naqvi to all Correctional Services staff

January 21, 2016

All Correctional Services Staff

Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services

Dear Colleagues:

Building safer, stronger communities for all is an important priority for our government.

I know that this is a goal we all share and the years and decades you have dedicated to public service are a testament to your belief in making a positive difference in the lives of others, and that Ontario’s correctional system has a key role to play in making our communities stronger and Ontario an even safer place to live.

Our government commends each and every one of the almost 7000 hard-working Correctional Services staff right across the province. We know that you work hard in a challenging environment, and that it is your efforts and dedication every single day that keep our communities safe.

We also recognize that the collective bargaining process that has taken place over the last year, while essential to getting us to a fair, effective, and responsible agreement, was difficult for everyone, causing uncertainty and frustration at times.

The agreement reached reflects the value that our government puts on our relationship with our Correctional Services staff. Now we look forward to strengthening that relationship, and working together to transform Ontario’s correctional system by increasing staffing levels, enhancing mental health training and supports, and completing infrastructure upgrades at facilities across the province.

First and foremost, this means hiring many more Correctional Services staff. We are moving forward immediately with recruitment planning for 25 new Probation and Parole Officers and training recently started for 144 new Correctional Officers. This new class builds on the 571 new Correctional Officers we have hired and trained since 2013, including 91 last month. We will continue to hire many more in the coming months and years to ensure staffing levels grow beyond normal turn-over and retirement, and to ensure that officers are reflective of the diverse communities we serve.

It also means continuing to roll out enhanced mental health training for staff, providing greater diversion opportunities for those better assisted in alternative settings, reducing caseloads, and continuing our comprehensive review of the segregation policy that is currently underway. These initiatives will be supported by other investments, such as the new Regional Intermittent Centre in London, and other infrastructure upgrades throughout the correctional system.

I look forward to meeting with many Correctional Services leadership and staff from across the province over the coming weeks, hearing your feedback, and working with you to make Ontario’s correctional system better for staff, for inmates, and for our communities.

Sincerely,

 

Yasir Naqvi
Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services