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EDMONTON – The Government of Alberta must delay transferring prisoners to the new Edmonton Remand Centre until major safety risks for employees are addressed, says Alberta Union of Provincial Employees President Guy Smith.

Smith raised the union’s concerns with Justice Minister Jonathan Denis yesterday, after months of unsuccessful efforts to have the problems addressed by his department. A formal health and safety complaint was filed the same day.

“I’m extremely frustrated the department hasn’t taken our members’ safety concerns seriously over the last several months. We’re asking that the scheduled transfer of offenders be delayed to ensure no one gets hurt,” said Smith.

“If the department forges ahead, we will advise our members of their right to refuse work in the case of imminent danger,” he added.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act provides employees the following rights:

Existence of imminent danger

35(1) No worker shall

(a) carry out any work if, on reasonable and probable grounds, the worker believes that there exists an imminent danger to the health or safety of that worker,

(b) carry out any work if, on reasonable and probable grounds, the worker believes that it will cause to exist an imminent danger to the health or safety of that worker or another worker present at the work site, or

(c) operate any tool, appliance or equipment if, on reasonable and probable grounds, the worker believes that it will cause to exist an imminent danger to the health or safety of that worker or another worker present at the work site.

(2) In this section, “imminent danger” means in relation to any occupation

(a) a danger that is not normal for that occupation, or

(b) a danger under which a person engaged in that occupation would not normally carry out the person’s work.

AUPE Local 003 represents the correctional service employees who will work at the new remand facility. Local 003 Chair Clarke McChesney has heard ongoing concerns about the transfer from Correctional Officers who will be affected.

“There is no reason to rush this transfer. We’re saying: let’s deal with the issues and slowly phase in the move of prisoners from the old facility,” said McChesney.

“Many corrections workers are excited because the new building presents a huge opportunity to put the problems of the old Edmonton Remand Centre behind them. There’s no sense in rushing the transfer and starting officers in a new Remand facility that presents undue risks to them and offenders,” he said.

AUPE Occupational Health and Safety Representative Dennis Malayko filed the official complaint with Alberta Occupational Health and Safety yesterday, demanding the issues be corrected.

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For more information:

Clarke McChesney, Local 003 Chair, AUPE – 403-829-1508 (cell)
Dennis Malayko, OH&S Rep, AUPE – 780-217-7927 (cell)
Guy Smith, President, AUPE – 780-265-2294 (cell)
Mark Wells, Senior Communications Advisor, AUPE – 780-930-3311 or 780-904-0688

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