QUEEN’S PARK– Official Opposition Critic for Community Safety and Correctional Services Rick Nicholls (Chatham-Kent-Essex) is calling on the government to acknowledge and address the crisis in corrections in the province of Ontario.
“I have toured a number of facilities and spoken to countless officers,” said Nicholls. “It is clear to everyone except the government that there are massive systemic issues going on right across the province.”
Nicholls has asked numerous questions in the Legislature about the state of corrections in Ontario over the last few months and plans to keep the issue in the spotlight.
“I will continue to ask the hard questions until we get some real answers and some real help for our men and women who work tirelessly across Ontario in dangerous situations,” Nicholls stated.
Staff shortages in detention centres have led to a steady increase in the use of lockdowns as officers are unable to safely perform their duties. This adds unneeded stress to guards and inmates, making our detention centres more volatile.
Probation and parole officers also face the largest caseloads in the country, averaging 66 offenders for every probation officer. This puts community safety at risk and makes it even harder for those who have served their time to get their lives back on track.
When you speak to these officers, you can tell how compassionate they are. They want to make sure their most dangerous offenders are obeying the conditions of their parole, while also helping those who are trying to become contributing members of society again. They cannot keep up with the workload,” added Nicholls. “It is an incredibly important dual role and the fact of the matter is the provincial government is not doing its part to support them as they perform their jobs every day.”
“It will take years to solve this problem but the government can start by being honest with the people of the province and its staff across all correctional services. There is certainly a crisis in corrections and we must solve it together,” Nicholls concluded.