More than 90 new correctional officers will soon be patrolling at jails across Ontario, including Central North Correctional Centre.
The 91 recent correctional officer graduates will be spread out across the province at 19 different institutions near their hometowns. A dozen will work in the central region with another 20 assigned to Toronto, 18 are heading east, 21 will work in the northern region and 20 in the western region, an area that includes the Penetanguishene superjail.
"On Monday, 12 new correctional officers will begin their shifts at the Central North Correctional Centre," Andrew Morrison, a spokesman with the Ministry of the Solicitor General told MidlandToday.
"This initiative is part of the government's commitment to invest more than $500 million over five years to transform correctional services and improve health and safety through new hiring and infrastructure improvements," Morrison said, noting there are currently 784 inmates at the Penetanguishene institution.
"The Ontario government is strengthening public safety in communities across the province by adding 91 new correctional officers to the frontlines."
Richard Dionne, president of CNCC-369 which represents jail guards, said the jail currently employs 252 full-time correctional officers along with approximately 105 “fixed term” (part-time).
“We are always pleased with new correctional staff in our institution,” Dionne said. "Unfortunately, it won't have any significant impact on our institution.”
Dionne said the new staff don't represent an increase to the jail's full-time staffing complement.
"Rather they are fixed-term officers who aren't guaranteed hours," Dionne said. "We have continued to advocate for an increase to our full-time staffing complement to put us on par with the staffing at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay.”
In announcing the move, the province says the recent graduates are the first group of recruits to receive compensation from the province while undergoing training in order to reduce barriers to employment.
“We are making it easier for people to pursue a career as a correctional officer by offering compensation while they complete the intensive training program,” Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said in a release.
“Correctional officers are essential justice sector partners who help ensure communities are safe and protected," Jones added.
The new recruits underwent an eight-week training program that took place both virtually and in-person. According to the province, the program provided officers with job-specific case studies and scenario-based learning with a focus on anti-Black racism, Indigenous cultural training and inmate management techniques.
The training also featured improved communication and de-escalation skills to ensure officers are better equipped to respond to real-life incidents.