Negotiations between the province and corrections officers have reached a tentative agreement, hours before a strike deadline.
According to a statement from the province, “the outcome of the talks is consistent with the fiscal plan outlined in the 2015 Budget,” meaning nothing will be added to the deficit as a result of the agreement.
“We are pleased that Ontario has reached a collective agreement with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), with respect to the Correctional Bargaining Unit,” Deputy Premier Deb Matthews and Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Yasir Naqvi said in a statement.
In the contract, both sides agreed that outstanding monetary issues will be referred to binding arbitration.
“[The agreement] also recognizes the essential work of our Correctional Bargaining Unit employees by providing a stand-alone collective agreement for future rounds of collective bargaining,” Matthews said in the statement. “Interest arbitration will also be provided going forward as a dispute resolution mechanism rather than the right to strike for the Correctional Bargaining Unit.”
Without the agreement, intermittent offenders would have been able to serve their jail time from home by either calling in or checking in to the jail.
In the event of a strike, the government planned to bring in managers from across the public service to run the jails. As of Thursday, officials say the facilities hold 7,444 inmates or are 88% of capacity. Union president Smokey Thomas has said he was concerned the managers would not be able to ensure the safety of the other staff covered under a different contract.
Approximately 6,000 jail guards and probation officers in Ontario were set to go on strike as of 12:01 a.m. Sunday morning if an agreement was not reached.