|One of the guard towers at Kingston Penitentiary in Kingston, Ont. (MICHAEL LEA/QMI Agency)
KINGSTON, Ont. — The union representing guards at Kingston Penitentiary is fighting its closure as the historical prison's 465 workers' jobs are on the line.
“We’re taking a stand to fight to keep these institutions open,” Jason Godin, the Ontario regional president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, said Friday.
“It’s not just about unionized jobs, it’s about our community. It’s about community safety. It’s about the safety of our other area institutions. It’s about the economic significance it is to our community, as well.”
The union is planning a public forum after last week’s announcement that the 177-year-old penitentiary will shutter within two years, along with the regional treatment centre within its walls and the medium-security Leclerc Institution in Laval, Que.
Kingston Pen employs 465 workers who oversee roughly 350 inmates incarcerated in the maximum-security prison.
Since last week’s announcement, Corrections staff have been approached by members of the public offering their support, Godin said.
“We don’t believe the community here is going to stand up and say, ‘Close these institutions,'” he said.
Liberal MP Ted Hsu took a tour of the prison Friday morning.
Hsu said he frustrated that he has yet to be presented with any evidence that closing the penitentiary was the best option.
“What I would like to see is an actual assessment where they said, ‘OK, we looked at renovating. We looked at repurposing, and we looked at closing. And closing made the most economic sense, or made the most sense overall."