Advertisement

Correctional officers protest at Province House over staffing levels in jails

On Wednesday, about 50 members of the union that represents correctional officers converged on the provincial legislature to confront politicians over the issue. (Blair Rhodes/CBC - image credit)
On Wednesday, about 50 members of the union that represents correctional officers converged on the provincial legislature to confront politicians over the issue. (Blair Rhodes/CBC - image credit)

Low staffing levels in Nova Scotia's jails are once again garnering attention.

The problem has led to inmates being locked in their cells for as much as 23 hours every day. In January, a justice of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruled such lockdowns violate inmates' Charter rights.

On Wednesday, about 50 members of the union that represents correctional officers converged on the provincial legislature to confront politicians over the problem.

"We need the department of justice, we need the minister to look at these serious issues and start to deal with them," said Hugh Gillis, the union's vice-president.

Gillis and the other protesters circled Province House, chanting that if they're unsafe, the public is unsafe too.

'No vacancies' 

Inside the legislature, Justice Minister Brad Johns told reporters the real problem is staff at the jails who are phoning in sick.

"We currently have no vacancies. It's really an issue about ensuring that everybody shows up for their shifts that they're responsible to show up for," Johns said.

"But even having said that, we're going to continue to recruit and train so that we have maybe even a few more than what we actually need."

Johns said the province recently hired 33 new guards, has 45 students going through a training program right now, and  continues recruiting efforts across the country.

The day before the guards' protest, a group of lawyers announced they're launching a class action lawsuit against the provincial government. In a statement, the lawyers said they're hoping to build on the January court decision that declared the prolonged lockdowns illegal.

MORE TOP STORIES: