A small group of OPSEU members picketed MPP David Orazietti’s office Thursday afternoon with a lot of questions but no answers. Orazietti is now the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
Representatives from the OPSEU Corrections Division tell SaultOnline.com they want to know how the Ontario government can find millions of dollars for a strike that didn’t happen.
Through the Freedom of Information act, the union discovered the government spent over $44 million dollars on trailers , food and other items had a strike taken place last year between Correctional workers and the Liberal government.
“Today is about informing the public” said organizer, Michel Bisaillon, executive board member Local 616. “Is there anything else? that’s number one and the Province claims that the money was spent on items that could be re-used , like food and the question there is , re-used by who? because it certainly wasn’t being used on the inmates and staff” Bisaillon said.
“There’s never ever money for adequate training, for equipment , no money for benefits like dental and so on, but there’s always plenty of money at bargaining time when they want to fight us with everything they have” Bisaillon said. “People don’t realize if you divvy up the money they spent, and I stress, just the money I know of, they could have given us all a ten percent raise”
The 44 million was spent on anything from trailers for scab labour, mattresses, food and private security the union claims.
How does the Government justify the spend? “They haven’t” said Jeff Arbus, OPSEU Regional Vice-President. “Minister Orazietti has not justified this expenditure in any way. We’re still waiting for a detailed explanation from his office , we haven’t seen it yet” Arbus said.
“We will continue to remind the taxpayers of Ontario of this waste of money and the fact they told us it was $8 million when in reality it was $44 million that we know of and we had to go to freedom of information to get that information, so much for transparency”
“We’re not about to let this go away” Arbus added. “Our correctional officers, our probation officers work really hard for those people who are in prisons and for those who are on probation and parole and it is a tough job these people do, at least they could have been treated fairly”
Minister Orazietti was reportedly not at his constituency office during the protest rally.