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Letter to the editor from someone who knows.

Midland Free Press
September 17, 2004

A matter of priorities

When the people of Penetanguishene, Midland and surrounding areas were uncertain if they wanted a privately operated prison in their neighbourhood, the provincial Tory Government insisted safety to the community would be first priority. The publicly operated jails in the province are obligated to operate under long established set of standards for the safety of the incarcerated persons, the staff that work within the institutions and firstly for the safety of the communities in which they are located.

These standards are encompassed in a manual called the ADI. (Adult Institutions Manual).

The private operator contracted by the renamed Ministry of Public Safety and Security to operate the Penetanguishene Central North Correctional Centre does not comply to these standards in my opinion.

In a town council meeting the private operator promised the citizens of our communities they would meet or exceed, in every area of the provincial ministry standards.

Why does the community and the people of Lindsay and surrounding areas deserve more public safety than that of the good citizens of Penetanguishene, Midland and surrounding areas? Why are staffing levels drastically different? Possibly because the publicly operated jail meets ADI standards.

However CNCC'S management spends many manpower hours to achieve an American accreditation known as the ACI.

This standard also has been set and has many regulations that must be met. The ACI is also a marketable commodity.

Some considerable manpower is used to accomplish this standard.

Have the people of our area been given all the facts? The ministry has placed contract compliance monitors inside Central North to hold this private operator accountable and the monitors are suppose to be ever watchful of the inner daily operations. Why has a private operator been allowed to expend so much time and effort into a saleable commodity by taking so much away from the security they are contracted to provide?

The politicians plan to compare this privately operated institution with publicly operated ones. It is reasonable to believe they would compare CECC to CNCC because they are nearly the same building and have the same operational needs. But unless you compare apples to apples there is no comparison. Staffing levels are different and so is the cost. Wages and benefits are different and so is the cost. Surely the elected government of Ontario would not compare apples to white elephants, would they?

Dan Gregoire

Dan Gregoire is vice president of the local corrections officer union, Local 369 OPSEU. His job at CNCC was terminated and OPSEU has filed wrongful dismissal on his behalf and is now awaiting an adjudication date.

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