Corrections Critic Says There's A Crisis In Ontario's Jails

Understaffing, overcrowding and a lack of supports are among the key issues in what's being described as a 'crisis in corrections' in Ontario.

Corrections, probation and parole officers - represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union - say many inmates are dealing with mental health issues and addictions without proper supports.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak, the NDP Critic for Community Safety and Correction Services, says the crisis has created problems for both inmates and the people looking after them. "An enormous amount of inmates that suffering from mental health and addictions without adequate supports and programs.  It looks like corrections facilities that are overcrowded and understaffed.  It looks like direct assault of corrections officers."

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Essex MPP Taras Natyshak (Photo by AM800's Zander Broeckel)

Natyshak says Bill 6, aimed at improving the system, fails to provide adequate staffing or resources. "Within the context of the bill there were no reference to actual resources and support for those front-line officers and for any of the increased resources that are required within facilities."

It's not just an issue inside the institutions. Natyshak warns that probation and parole officers are affected as well. "Those folks are dealing with higher and higher case loads which means they have less time that they have less time on a per-person basis, to keep an eye, to keep watch and to ensure that those folks are following the rules and that they aren't trying to be a further harm to society and to themselves."

Natyshak says government claims of 1500 newly-created positions deal mainly with attrition and retirements. He says only 24 new people have been hired in Ontario.

He says the Southwest Detention Centre in Windsor is a great new facility, but, without adequate staffing, is still a concern.