Pioneering Carpentry Program Offers Inmates a Fresh Start in Ontario

Addressing the glaring shortage in the carpentry trade, the Carpenters Regional Council Local 2486 in Sudbury has unveiled an inventive program. The Social Reintegration Program, a brainchild of Local 2486 Training Coordinator Alex Cardinal, is all about affording inmates on the cusp of release a shot at acquiring valuable job skills in carpentry.

Housed at the correctional facility in Monteith, Ontario, the program is earmarked for inmates nearing their release. Over eight intensive weeks, participants delve into the world of carpentry pre-apprenticeship. This is not just theory; successful candidates secure employment stints with CRC affiliated contractors post-release.

Highlighting the impetus behind the initiative, Cameron Deering, CRC 2486 local union coordinator, emphasized their quest to pull underrepresented demographics into the trades. It’s about widening the net, making room for those with criminal pasts and diverse socio-economic backgrounds.

This initiative, birthed in collaboration with the Monteith Correctional Facility officials and the Solicitor General, witnessed two eight-week stints imparting training to 30 inmates. Beyond basic carpentry, the curriculum was robust, encompassing safety training, tool safety protocols, WHMIS training, and instructions on working in challenging environments.

As Deering notes, the success rate is commendable. Nine inmates, post their release, have been seamlessly integrated with contractors. This is not a mere gesture; it’s a tangible opportunity, as evinced by inmates who willingly extended their incarceration to complete the program. The Government of Ontario Skills Development Fund has generously underwritten this transformative journey.

The commitment doesn’t end with just training. Post their initial work placement of four weeks, participants undergo a thorough assessment. Those who meet the program’s benchmarks are absorbed into the CRC 2486 local, stepping into formal apprenticeships.

While the current iteration excludes female inmates, Deering hints at potential inclusivity in future renditions, contingent on securing additional funds. Reflecting on the pilot, Deering underscores its immense value in challenging stereotypes, ushering in overlooked demographics, and endowing them with a legitimate career trajectory, replete with benefits and a pension, within the carpenters union.

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