Th eCentral North Correctional Centre (CNCC) is getting some extra help.
The province announced that as part of its plan to strengthen the correctional system and protect communities across Ontario, it will add 113 new correctional officers and 22 probation and parole officers, who have completed their training programs.
Richard Dionne, president of CNCC OPSEU local 369, had mixed feelings about the addition that will see 20 recent graduates supporting the province’s western region at the Penetanguishene facility along with Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre.
“Although I'm glad to welcome new correctional officers, these are still fixed-term officers,” Dionne said, pointing out that the five new CNCC hires are considered casual staff.
CNCC currently employs 252 full-time officers, and about 90 fixed-term officers, according to Dionne.
“We continue to seek an increase to our full-time complement of officers, amongst other classifications. We need an increase to full-time positions across the institution, including COs, nurses, administrative assistants, etc.”
All totalled, correctional officer graduates will be assigned to 15 different institutions across Ontario near their home regions.
“I want to congratulate and thank each individual for choosing a rewarding career in public service – one that directly contributes to the safety of the communities they serve,” Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said in a release.
“Correctional officers and probation and parole officers are essential partners in Ontario’s justice system, and the comprehensive training they have received will ensure they are well prepared for the important work they will undertake.”
Earlier this year, CNCC received two ion scanners as part of a provincial effort to combat contraband entering facilities, enhance security and improve staff and inmate safety.
As for the correctional officer training program, it took place virtually and in-person over an eight-week period with a focus on enhanced communication and de-escalation skills. It also included a focus on anti-Black racism, Indigenous cultural training and inmate management techniques.
These recent graduates received compensation from the province while undergoing training to help remove barriers to employment, which is part of the government's ongoing commitment to invest more than $500 million over five years to transform adult correctional services and improve safety.
Probation and parole officer graduates, meanwhile, completed five weeks of training both virtually and in-person at Ontario's Correctional Services Recruitment and Training Centre. The training included assessment and case plans, motivational interviewing, report writing, enforcement and managing specialized cases.
Probation and parole officers work to help offenders reintegrate back into their communities. The new recruits are currently assigned across the province in areas near their home community to offer a local perspective. Seven are in the Central Region, three in the Northern Region, seven in Western Region and five in the Eastern Region.