Mr. Speaker, I want to return to a question I asked originally on February 25. At that time, I wanted to make sure that the House was aware of media reports in February which indicated that Stoney Mountain Penitentiary, which is located in my riding, was ranked third out of 54 federal prisons for weapons seizures.
Also, correctional officers confiscated nearly 1,200 weapons across Canada during 2004. They put their lives at risk every day, but the government will not provide them with stabproof vests.
As well, the government has continued to delay coming to an agreement with the officers union and they have now been without a contract for almost three years.
At that time I asked when the government was going to make a decision to go back to the table in good faith and start negotiating with the correctional officers. Unfortunately, nothing happened.
I did not receive much of a reply, so on March 31, I tabled Question No. 121 in the House, which was just answered last week. My question was:
With regard to the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement between the government and Correctional Service of Canada employees nearly three years ago; (a) what is the current state of negotiations?; (b) is the government currently engaged in negotiations?; (c) when does the government estimate that a contract with the Corrections officers will be signed?
Treasury Board responded that:
--on November 30...after several meetings, the conciliation officer appointed by the Public Service Staff Relations Board...informed the parties of his decision to terminate the conciliation process based on his assessment that the number and the scope of issues still remaining provided a limited perspective that the conciliation process would lead to a settlement.
This is completely unacceptable.
Correctional officers right across this country put their lives on the line with some very dangerous individuals in our Correctional Service penitentiaries.
I have been through the two federal institutions in my riding, Stoney Mountain Penitentiary and the Rockwood Institute. Let me tell members that while walking through there I was looking at a group of individuals who were there for a reason.
As well, a very aggressive recruiting campaign is happening with gangs and it is almost impossible to manage the situation in the penitentiary. During our break week I was out there again looking at the whole problem of gangs. There is a gang environment. These individuals cannot be allowed to mix. Up to six gangs are now participating in recruiting new inmates.
All sorts of terrible things are happening there and it is the guards who are putting their lives on the line to maintain the peace. People outside in the community are actively recruited and are throwing drugs over the fence using slingshots and potato guns and other things of that nature. Inmates have access to drugs while they are out in the yard because people out in the community are willing to take the risk of providing drugs to the criminal element inside the penitentiary.
Therefore, when is the government going to negotiate in good faith with the correctional service union so that, first, officers can be properly compensated for the risks they take in managing and caring for those inmates? Second, when is the government going to provide them with the proper equipment so they can protect themselves, so they can protect their lives?
I look forward to the response.