by Heidi Riley
Islanders looking for a new career opportunity in corrections services will soon be able to take an accelerated and subsidized program at the Atlantic Police Academy in Slemon Park.
“There is a great need for more Correctional Officers on PEI and across Canada,” says Ron Taylor, Provincial Manager of Custody Programs at the Department of Justice and Public Safety, Province of PEI.
Ron says most new recruits are hired as they graduate from the regular Holland College Correctional Officer program, but the number of graduates is not enough to meet the demand.
The Atlantic Police Academy is working with the Province to offer this pilot Correctional Officer program to 12 applicants. The program is subsidized through the Canada-PEI Labour Market Development Agreement and the Workforce Development Agreement.
Twelve seats are available. The program starts on February 22, 2021 and runs to August 2021.
The 22 weeks of training include online, classroom, and on-the-job training. Upon completion of the program, successful students will be eligible for employment at one of PEI’s correctional centres.
Courses include (but are not limited to):
- Social Psychology for Correctional Officers
- Control Tactics
- Crisis Management
- Intervention and de-escalation
- Fitness and Lifestyle
- Canadian Corrections
- Canadian Law
- Correctional Operations
- Ethics and Professionalism
- Workplace Health and Safety
Interested applicants must meet the following requirements to be eligible for this program:
- Proof of Canadian citizenship or Canadian permanent resident status
- Grade 12 or equivalent with credits at or above the general level
- Must be 19 years of age by program start date
- Criminal Record Check (Vulnerable Sector) with no findings of guilt.
- Successful completion of a full background check. Please download and complete the Consent to Criminal Record and Background Check Form
- Valid Class 5 (cars and light trucks) driver’s license (students holding restricted or graduated licenses must abide by the conditions of the license)
- Completion of an APA Medical Form
- Three letters of reference, not from family members
- Completion of Immunization Verification Form (Required after acceptance)
- Certification in Standard First Aid, CPR Level C and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) (must be valid for the duration of the program)
- Résumé including work and volunteer experience with applicable dates, membership in groups, associations or athletics, awards and distinctions, and any other information about yourself relevant to the program
Duties of a Correctional Officer
Correctional Officers are responsible for the security and supervision of offenders. They are responsible for supervising the daily routine of offenders, completing documentation, doing security checks of the inmates and their living areas, distributing meals or medication, or supporting a variety of classes and programs and services for offenders within a correctional centre.
Casual Correctional Officers work on a rotating shift basis to replace officers who are on short or long term leave, vacation or working on other projects, or when there is a need for additional officers. They could also provide one-on-one supervision or transportation to court or medical/ personal appointments.
Starting a career as a Correctional Officer
New hires start work on a casual basis. “Right now, we have about 25 to 30 casuals, and every one of them gets full-time work,” says Ron. “Some work a lot of overtime as well. We can’t guarantee full-time work to the graduates of this program, but there is definitely a need for more officers. After one year of casual work, they are eligible to apply for any provincial government job, including full-time Correctional Officer.”
Casual Correctional Officers currently start at $26.61 per hour, plus 12 percent vacation pay, and are paid a shift differential when they work weekends, evening, and night shifts.
“The training program does have a physical aspect, and applicants need a certain level of fitness, but the requirements are not as stringent as they were in the past,” says Ron. “We are looking for brains rather than brawn. You don’t have to be a musclebound person to deal with inmates. You need to be able to use your head and have good communication skills.
“Our ideal candidate would be a bit older, with some life experiences, and not necessarily directly out of high school. We look for someone with experience working with people, such as volunteering or coaching, who has common sense, energy, enthusiasm, motivation, and the ability to talk to people,” says Ron.
“It helps to have a sense of humour to deal with the stress of the job. I have worked with offenders for 40 years, and I think the best way to deal with them is to treat them as people and give them respect. People make mistakes, and our job is to get them back into society once they have paid for their mistakes.”
Ron says part of the agreement with Holland College and SkillsPEI is that the candidate selected must fit into the category of unemployed or “underemployed” to be able to receive the funding. The funding is for Island residents.