Halifax – “More must be done to prevent assaults on Correctional Officers in Burnside”, says Joan Jessome, President of the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union.
The Canadian Press recently reported that assaults on Correctional Officers have nearly doubled in 2014, as compared to 2013. They say there were 32 assaults on Officers in 2014, as opposed to only 6 in 2013.
“Our members are proud of the public service they provide as Correctional Officers in the largest and busiest provincial correctional facility,” says Jessome. “Even though they work in an often hostile environment, they shouldn’t have to fear for their safety at work.”
Both union and management work together in a Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committee (JOHSC) and safety working groups to regularly address health & safety issues at Burnside.
“This increase is alarming and concerns us,” says President Jessome. “The provincial Occupational Health & Safety Act ensures us that workers have a right to a safe workplace. Even if we attribute some of the increase in numbers to better reporting, it still suggests Burnside is getting more dangerous for employees and this must be addressed.”
Although some are looking to the new jail in Priestville as a solution, it will not solve all of the OH&S issues at Burnside. It will lower the numbers of inmates in Burnside but because of its proximity to the Courts, Burnside will continue to receive federally remanded inmates and will continue as the main jail for the Metro area.
We will continue to push for continuous improvement in health and safety and push for ways to mitigate risk and improve training, protective equipment, and monitoring in the facility. We will also continue to push for adequate staffing at all times.
NSGEU represents approximately 250 Correctional Officers working at Burnside (a.k. a. Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility)