CAB Report 2015 - Central East Correctional Centre
Community Advisory Board Annual Report
Central East Correctional Centre
March 31, 2016
Ministry of Correctional Services Act, Section 14.1, 2000, c. 40, s. 4.
“The Minister may establish a local monitoring board for a correctional institution, composed of persons appointed by the Minister.”
Principal Duties of the Community Advisory Board
- To satisfy themselves as to the state of the institution premises, the administration of the institution, and the treatment of inmates;
- To develop effective relationships with the Superintendent and share minutes from the Board meetings;
- To inquire into and report back on any matters requested by the minister MCSCS;
- To direct to the attention of the Superintendent any matter they consider expedient to report; and
- To report to the minister any matter which they consider expedient to report, normally achieved through the Annual Report or through exceptional situation reports.
Overview of the Annual Report
One of the required functions of the Community Advisory Board (CAB) is to develop and submit an Annual Report outlining and describing the Board’s activities in the previous year. The Report will also contain observations and recommendations to the Minister, Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS), on aspects of the operation of the institution.
The Annual Report is submitted to the minister, with distribution to the institution superintendent. The Annual Report or excerpts may only be made public with the approval of the minister.
Objectives of the Annual Report
The purpose of the Annual Report is to highlight the work of the CAB and to identify any areas of concern and/or support for the operation of the institution. The Annual Report should include observations, findings and recommendations, in the following areas:
- Advice to the minister on any aspect of the operation of the institution;
- Any observations communicated to the uperintendent regarding the operation of the institution;
- Advice provided to the minister and superintendent regarding a community or citizens’ perspective on the operation of the institution;
- Observations communicated to the minister and superintendent, regarding the treatment of inmates in the care of the institution;
- Observations on the state of the institution and the administration of the facility; and
- The establishment of cooperative and supportive relationships with the superintendent, managers, and staff of the institution.
Objectives and Goals
- Conscientiously communicate operational observations and perceptions regarding the treatment of inmates and detainees with CECC senior management.
- Request proactive recruitment by the ministry and the appointment of qualified people for the Board vacancies.
- Enthusiastically support the expansion of mental health services for the inmates.
- Request new CAB Terms of Reference from the ministry.
- Purposefully and consistently bring institutional concerns and accolades to the Board meetings for discussion and inclusion in the minutes.
- Prepare an orientation package specifically for new CECC CAB members.
- Increase institutional visits and monitoring, as Board vacancies are filled.
Community Advisory Board Members
Chair: Ed Lafosse, appointed May 1, 2012, term April 23, 2015 (resignation)
Nancy Martin, appointed August 1, 2014, term July 31, 2016
Chris Ciceri, appointed Aug. 1, 2007, term July 31, 2016
Jean Jones appointed Aug. 1, 2007, term Aug. 1, 2017
Sandy McNeil, appointed April 1, 2014, term Nov. 19, 2015 (resignation)
Melissa Morrison, appointed July 21, 2015, 2013, term July 20, 2018
Overview of CAB Activities for 2015
Number of CAB Meetings: 9
The Board held 8 meetings, with the superintendent or a designate present, and a planning meeting during this reporting period. Due to the Board vacancies, two of these meetings only had a quorum of three members. The meeting minutes were forwarded to the ministry and Program Advisor, Professional Shared Services (PSS), on a regular basis.
Number of Site Visits: 36
The Board’s monitoring of operations and fulfilling required responsibilities may have been insufficiently addressed due to the delay in appointing new candidates to fill the two Board vacancies. With a skeleton Board and health complications, the number of institutional visits was 36 this year. As well, challenging labour relations related to contract negotiations curtailed Board meetings and visits in January, February and December.
Monthly Reports provided to the CAB: 3
- Institutional Count Report
- Incident Report
- At each meeting, the superintendent provides a verbal report regarding staffing changes, labour updates, new initiatives, important issues and incidents of note, with a question and answer opportunity between the members and the superintendent.
Other Information available to the Board
- Employee Relations Committee and Joint Health & Safety Committee meeting minutes are available for review by the CAB when they visit the facility. Binders are kept on a bookshelf in the main administration office for easy access.
Number of Reports/Concerns that Required Action: 15 described below
Number of Concerns Directed to the Superintendent: 15 listed in Attachment A, as follows:
- CAB members remained very concerned with labour disruptions, labour negotiations and possible strike action.
- Numerous lockdowns occur due to staffing shortages that negatively impact staff, inmates, programming, family visits, legal meetings and access to regular privileges.
- Offenders representing themselves in court are a huge drain on time, resources and staff.
- Extensive delays for reimbursing CAB members’ expenses are unacceptable.
- Members are very concerned with the presence of ceramic knives and the related inmate-on-inmate assaults.
- A community concern about the link between the presence of drugs in CECC and the increase of drugs and other contraband in the community.
- Concerns about the recent death of an immigration detainee in the Peterborough hospital, while in police custody.
- Concerns about the ministry’s centralized preparation of communications, with limited local knowledge, regarding the immigration detainee’s death in the Peterborough hospital.
- Delay in the minister making appointments to fill CAB vacancies.
- Mental health training and other training for correctional staff have been cancelled until after the labour contract is settled.
- Concern with attempted escape. Structural maintenance completed immediately.
- Questioning what the repercussions have been related to the fire-suppression system upgrades being on hold until the detainees are transferred to a different facility.
- Managers have found the extensive reporting requirements, in Men’s Segregation, somewhat overwhelming until they become more familiar with the processes.
- Concerns how labour negotiations are impacting staff and institutional operations. An MOL order was received due to non-compliance with the Safe-Smart training.
- Movement of inmates for court proceedings was significantly delayed due to labour disruptions.
Concerns are noted in our Board meeting minutes, which are provided to the ministry and Program Advisor following each Board meeting.
Number of Concerns Directed to the Minister: 1
- Requesting minister make necessary appointments to fill CAB vacancies.
- The Board requests revised CAB Terms of Reference.
- The Board appreciates an appointment was made to this Board. Ms. Melissa Morrison was welcomed in August.
- There are six members required on the Community Advisory Board. There has not been a full complement of members for the past nine years. As well, leaves of absence due to illness and other issues presented further challenges.
- The Board requests ministry initiative be taken to appoint a full complement to this Board. With this size of correctional facility, not having the required six members puts an undue burden on the current Board members. Two Board appointments are required.
- The Board members appreciate minister Yasir Naqvi’s response to our 2014 Annual Report and the detailed feedback received from Deputy Minister Rhodes. Their letters acknowledge the importance of providing the ministry with observations and recommendations on the operation and administration of the institution, the impact on the local community, the treatment of inmates, and our success stories.
Presentations and Training
Number of Presentations made to the CAB: 2
- Deputy-Superintendent Programs
- Records Manager
Number of Visitors to CAB Meetings: 1
- Program Advisor PSS
Number of Training Sessions Completed: 2
- New Member Orientation
- CAB Conference
Kudos to Minister Yasir Naqvi and his MCSCS staff for preparing and presenting the first CAB Conference on October 28, 2015, in the Delta Ottawa City Centre. Also kudos to the moderator, the regional director for the Eastern Region Institutional Services, for providing a very informative day.
At the Conference, the members of the seven CABs appreciated the opportunity to meet, hear presentations and discuss these important topics: update on Provincial Segregation review and consultation, communication with the media, transformation in Corrections, mental health initiatives update, travel claims and Agency requirements, tools and templates for CAB members, and an interesting Q and A wrap-up. As well, informal discussions among members were very interesting. Best practices were shared and new friendships formed.
- All Board members complete orientation and a CECC Volunteer Training Workshop, in their first appointment year.
- A meeting of the CAB Chairs with Minister Naqvi was held in April for building rapport and expanding best practices. As well, there were two teleconference calls for CAB chairs in 2015.
- The CAB Conference was an effective opportunity to meet other CAB members and the ministry staff for being updated on and discussing the important topics presented. New friendships were made for further consultation. Networking is an important part of CAB membership. Communicating concerns and discovering alternative solutions is very helpful. Exchanging success stories can expand best practices.
The Operation of the Institution
- The ministry is expanding mental health initiatives for inmates. Mental health protection has an increased mandate resulting from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario settlement and the ten remedies identified, the Jahn Remedies. In September, CECC hired another mental health nurse. As well, in the last week of September, trained staff began using a new mental health screening and assessment process with inmates. The screening tool is used to assess and identify inmates who may have mental health challenges. This tool ensures inmates with mental health concerns are identified as quickly as possible and referred to the appropriate professionals and services. The assessment can identify suicide risk, risk of victimization, prevent decompensation and allay fears. As part of the admission process, health care staff gather information, rate the new inmate’s state of mental health and determine the best placement within CECC. Within 24 hours, each identified inmate is seen by the mental health nurse and/or the psychologist and a plan of care is developed.
- Labour negotiations and training disruptions delayed the establishment of the Mental Health Unit until Spring 2016. This special unit will reduce the number of segregation beds used for mental health situations. The approved Mental Health Unit is to have a ‘step-down’ unit for inmates with mental health challenges providing dayroom programmes and socialization. Compatibility assessments will be done to determine if inmates can be housed two in a cell. This process will be a direct supervision module with input from staff on the daily care and activities for each inmate.
- The Offender Work Program is an important component of operations. In 2015, 443 sentenced inmates participated in this program, which provides educational credits and work experience for their resumes. General Population inmates work in the kitchen, warehouse, grounds, maintenance, and scrub/A&D. Protective Custody inmates work in the Trilcor Industries marker plant and tailor shop. Projects for the Outside Work Program include property maintenance and collection/removal of garbage.
- There is excessive pressure and intimidation on the Work Program inmates to traffic contraband. The offender population is changing, with more gangs, more drugs and an increasing number of ceramic knives. The financial rewards are an attractive incentive to facilitate trafficking throughout the institution regardless of the increased level of investigations. Random searches and canine searches are regular occurrences.
- The Volunteer Program is an extremely important operational component. CECC has enthusiastic volunteers providing excellent support to the inmates. Also, we appreciate the many agencies and students that provide services to our inmates. CECC staff strive to help inmates be better equipped for success. Our more than 200 volunteers are acknowledged and celebrated at an Annual Banquet.
- Ramadan celebrated from June 18 to July 18 was challenging, with the longest daylight hours. The meals must be served after sunset and before sunrise. Night shift staffing and summer vacations staffing were impacted by Ramadan.
- The Worship Centre provides regular non-denominational services and numerous multi-faith events for the inmates. The inmates welcome the opportunities to participate. The staff escorts for the inmates, to and from the Worship Centre, are commendable with wonderful cooperation offered.
- Due to labour negotiations and an Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) refusal to participate in training, the new x-ray equipment in the Screening Area was not operational in 2015.
Institution Impact on the Community
- The community continues to benefit from goods and services contracts. The Other Direct Operating Expenses Annual Budget for the April 1, 2014 – March 31, 2015 fiscal year was $8.6M (including transfer payments). Approximately 23% of the annual budget was spent on local supplies and services, in the City of Kawartha Lakes. The top expenditures comprising more than 78% of the budget are listed in decreasing order: food costs, health care (which include pharmaceutical drugs and health care service providers), clothing and hygiene products for inmates, building repairs and maintenance. Food costs are the largest expenditure but actually represent a minor expenditure within the local community.
- In April, the Board accepted Chairperson Ed Lafosse’s resignation due to health reasons. Ed was an integral part of the Board of Monitors/Community Advisory Board since 2007. A letter and his Community Service Award were delivered to Ed acknowledging his long-term contributions on the CECC Board. The Board expressed condolences to the family on his passing.
- On July 13, 2015, the flags at CECC were at half-staff to pay tribute to our Correctional Officer (CO). His is the 8th CO suicide in Canada since January and the 28th first responder. The Board expressed condolences to the family.
- As discussed on the website www.vanmeerfreepress.com, research into the prevalence of PTSD indicates correctional officers have a higher occurrence rate than any other first responder group (Executive Director and Founder Vince Savoia, Tema Conter Memorial Trust).
- Along with many other Ontario communities, Lindsay is an under-serviced area for doctors and nurses. A popular belief among community members is that CECC is recruiting doctors, nurse practitioners and nurses away from the community. The public may not be aware recruitment for health care workers is also challenging for CECC. The CECC salary scale for health-care professionals is lower than for those employed in hospitals.
- CECC staff continue to support the community through events such as the local food drive, the United Way, and the Rick Morey Memorial Hockey Tournament, which contribute to various charities. The CECC boardroom is available for the local Army Cadet Corps Leadership and First Aid training. CECC staff and the Army Cadet Corps provide mutual support, by attending inspection parades and Regional Training for the Ceremonial Unit and other formal events.
- On February 16, 2015, there was a demonstration at CECC, sponsored by the End Immigration Detention Network, expressing solidarity with the immigration detainees. Kawartha Lakes Police Services were on site.
- The death of an immigration detainee, while in custody in the Peterborough Regional Centre Hospital, created concern and speculation, in Peterborough, due to the limited communication provided by the ministry regarding the management of this sad event.
Administration of the Institution
- CECC is a well-managed facility. When issues arise, effective corrective actions are implemented in a timely manner. Labour relations negotiations have been challenging and significantly impacted operations. Union members want corrections operations recognized as an essential service and obtain a stand-alone agreement with binding arbitration. The primary considerations are maintaining safety and security for everyone. Minister Naqvi stated, “The collective bargaining process over the past year, while essential to getting us to a fair, effective and responsible agreement, has been difficult for everyone causing uncertainty and frustration at times... Our government values our relationship with our Correctional Services staff. And we look forward to strengthening this relationship... by increasing staffing levels, enhancing mental health training and supports, and completing infrastructure upgrades...” OPSEU will be in a legal strike position on January 10, 2016, at 12:01 am.
- With staffing resources stretched to the limit, consistency and important efficiencies are being jeopardized. Rotational lockdowns are very frequent. The superintendent reported, with various staff on temporary assignments, staffing shortages and insufficient day-shift managers, the overtime protocol has quickly been exhausted. Attrition has also decreased the staffing complement. As well, the telemedicine process requires numerous escorts because outside medical appointments become necessary. This further reduces available staff at CECC. Six new recruits arrived in early December. The Board is encouraged by the ministry’s goal to increase CECC staffing in 2016.
- In his response to our 2014 Annual Report, Minister Naqvi reaffirmed the ministry’s “constant focus on transforming Ontario’s correctional system to improve staff and inmate safety...”. The CAB is concerned, for example, that ceramic knives can’t be detected by the existing security equipment at CECC. CECC senior administration and this Board are awaiting results of the pilot program at the Toronto South Detention Center using a body scanner in the Admitting/Discharge unit, to conduct inmate body scans for contraband upon admission and the detection of non-metallic objects. In this remand centre, our inmate population is very transient providing multiple opportunities, with high cash incentives, to bring in ceramic knives. This Board strongly recommends obtaining a body scanner is a major priority for CECC.
- The number of offender-on-offender assaults remains a serious concern with many being contraband related. The closure of various correctional centres continues to impact various prison populations, with members from rival gangs in the same Pod and conflicts escalating. As well, the frequency of inmates preparing brews and the harmful consequences remain extremely problematic.
- Kudos to the deputy-superintendent of programs for establishing an innovative program of policy development, staff training and awareness development achieving the successful integration of trans inmates, in the female units.
- The smoke-suppression system upgrades were put on hold, to accommodate the 192 immigration detainees transferred from the Toronto West Detention Center. When space is available in a secure facility, the remaining immigration detainees will be transferred. Then the system upgrades will be done. In 2014, this Board requested a response asking who is responsible for the penalties related to the postponement of the system upgrades. A response was not received. This Board continues to request a response.
- The immigration detainees exclusively occupied a Pod. Ninety-nine of the original detainees remain. The Pod provides accommodations for 198 persons. In November, some detainees were relocated to share each cell. The compressed accommodations provided space for intermittent and overflow inmates, to occupy two units this pod.
- In March, Minister Naqvi announced the ministry is in the process of updating policies and continues efforts to transform the correctional system. This Board is pleased the ministry is revising the segregation practices and developing new guidelines that support mental-health initiatives.
The Treatment of Inmates
- The Educational Department provides a valuable program for the inmates to earn credits for obtaining their high-school diplomas. As well, the inmates earn valuable credits by participating on the Work Board. Being able to obtain education diplomas and gaining work experience can significantly improve the inmates’ opportunities in their communities. The Board is impressed with the professionalism, insight and empathy of the teachers providing academic education to our inmates.
- The Volunteer Coordinator has significantly expanded programming. The annual Art Contest for the inmates, which showcases their talents, was reinstated. The contest has enjoyed great success for six years.
- Programs help inmates deal with personal matters and prepare for release. The programs provided for the female inmates are parenting, life skills, story time, meditation and Yoga, artist crafts, cooking, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), basic literacy skills JK to grade 8 (reading/writing/math) and smoking cessation. As well, new programs for male inmates, in sentenced Pods, include parenting, story time, arts & crafts, holiday celebrations and basic literacy skills JK to grade 8 (reading/writing/math).
- The inmates are negatively impacted by staff shortages resulting in frequent lockdowns. There are high caseloads for social workers and addiction counsellors requiring access to the inmates for accommodating serious time constraints. Inmate programs, visits, phone calls, meetings with lawyers, and access to telehealth care are delayed or cancelled until a window of opportunity is available.
- The Board is pleased the Worship Center has a busy schedule, with the inmates attending various non-denominational services and numerous multi-faith events. An immigration detainee is painting a wonderful mural “Creation”, which is to be hung on the chapel wall. The mural is a reproduction of his drawing that won first prize in the inmate envelope art competition.
- Streaming funeral services into the Chapel is provided for immediate family inmates, when consent is provided by the family. Temporary Absence Permits can be approved for immediate family inmates to have a private visit in palliative care or at the funeral home, when wearing shackles and accompanied by a correctional officer.
- Native inmates self-identify and have the opportunity to smudge daily. The Native Institutional Liaison Officer (NILO) provides advocacy and special programs for First Nation, Métis and Inuit male and female inmates. There is an Aboriginal library and various First Nations and Inuit newspapers, magazines, books and relevant articles are distributed. She assists clients with their applications for Indian Status, Métis Status and Bill C-3 Status, and other required applications.
As well, the NILO extensively researches Indian and Northern Affairs and First Nation Membership to discover which First Nation their parents belonged, Adoption Disclosure forms for all provinces to help inmates discover their parents, helps women whose children were adopted open files for their children to connect at age 18 or older, and registers inmates with Service Ontario for access to family members at 18 or older. Extensive NILO programs include very diverse Native and Inuit Teachings, Life Skills programs and individual counselling. The First Nations, Métis and Inuit population fluctuates about 75 inmates at CECC.
- The Coordinating Chaplain received comments acknowledging the respectful treatment of the inmates during the religious observance of Ramadan.
- Prisoner Justice Day was established in 1934 and is on August 10th. This day is respectfully acknowledged, with many inmates fasting and not participating in programs. Staff assist with food services, as replacements for the Work Program inmates.
- A CAB member successfully advocated for detainees to have inmate barber services in a Pod and have wall clocks hung in the central hallway for easily knowing prayer times. Kudos to the Deputy-Superintendent for developing the inmate barber process. The Health and Safety Committee approved the placement of hair clippers in most units, to be used by a designated inmate barber in the multi-purpose room. This barber program successfully started in April, 2015.
Summary of Concerns and Recommendations
The Board Members will continue to monitor the noted areas of concern over the next year and report outcomes in the minutes. The following concerns have been identified by Board members and will be closely monitored over the next year:
- In his response to our 2014 Annual Report, Minister Naqvi reaffirmed the ministry’s “constant focus on transforming Ontario’s correctional system to improve staff and inmate safety...” Safety is being severely jeopardized, when the frequency of inmate-on-inmate violence using ceramic knives is escalating. Ceramic knives can’t be detected by the existing security equipment at CECC. CECC senior administration and this Board are awaiting results of the pilot program at the Toronto South Detention Center using the body scanner in the Admitting/Discharge unit, to conduct inmate body scans for contraband upon admission and the detection of non-metallic objects. In this remand centre, our inmate population is very transient providing multiple opportunities, with high financial incentives, to bring in ceramic knives. This Board strongly recommends obtaining a body scanner is a major priority for CECC.
- Members are extremely concerned OPSEU will be in a legal strike position on January 10, 2016, at 12:01 am. The Superintendent provided assurances appropriate staffing is available and contingency plans will be activated, in the event of a strike.
- Rotational lockdowns are very frequent due to staffing challenges. Staffing resources have been stretched to the limit, with consistency and important efficiencies being jeopardized. The Superintendent reported, with staffing shortages, attrition and various staff on temporary assignments, the overtime protocol has quickly been exhausted. A few new recruits were welcomed in December. Many new recruits are being redirected to Toronto South Detention Center. We anticipate an increased allocation of COs arriving in 2016.
- A Board member was concerned about the ministry’s centralized preparation of communications, with limited local knowledge, regarding the detainee’s death in Peterborough Regional Center while in police custody. Public communication about local issues could be enhanced if a local spokesperson were available to address specific institutional issues
- The smoke-suppression system upgrades were put on hold, to accommodate the 192 Federal detainees transferred from the Toronto West Detention Center. When space is available in a secure facility, the remaining immigration detainees will be transferred. Then the system upgrades will be done. In 2014, this Board requested a response asking who is responsible for the penalties related to the postponement of the system upgrades. This Board would appreciate a response to this request.
As well, this Board is requesting information from the ministry whether all the costs related to the detainees’ care are being reimbursed by the Federal Government. For example, are the costs of transporting detainees for medical reasons, Canadian Border Services hearing procedures and the required escorts, as well as other detainee-related costs being fully reimbursed to CECC? We appreciate receiving a response to our queries.
- CAB monitoring and activities were curtailed due to extensive labour negotiations. When attending various work areas, the Board members were always treated respectfully. The Members listened to labour concerns and responded in a professional matter.
- Members are grateful the disrespectful long-term practise of extreme delays for CAB expense reimbursements was rectified in October 2015.
- Members are concerned the mental health training, as well as other training requirements, did not take place due to OPSEU labour negotiation directives. Due to non-participation in training, the new x-ray equipment located in the Screening Area was not operational for 2015.
- This Board is pleased the ministry is revising the segregation practices and developing new guidelines that support mental-health initiatives.
Chair, March 31, 2016
May 31, 2016
Ms. Nancy Martin
Community Advisory Board Chair
Central East Correctional Centre
Dear Ms. Martin:
Thank you for your submission of the 2015 Community Advisory Board (CAB) Annual Report for Central East Correctional Centre (CECC).
We appreciate the time the CAB has taken to put together such a comprehensive list of recommendations for the ministry based on your observations at the institution over the last year.
I have reviewed your report and appreciate the thoughtful comments you have made about CECC. Associate Deputy Minister Marg Welch will be responding in detail to all of the nine meaningful recommendations you have made.
We are grateful to have such a dedicated group of volunteers that work diligently to help us improve operations and transparency in our institutions. The ministry values your input and will be working on addressing the recommendations from the Annual Report. I look forward to working with the CABs in the coming year, moving this innovative program forward and continuing to engage local communities to a greater degree. Please accept my sincere thanks for your work in this critical role and producing a valuable annual report.
c: Ms. Marg Welch
Associate Deputy Minister of Correctional Services
August 25, 2016
Ms. Nancy Martin
Community Advisory Board Chair
Central East Correctional Centre
Dear Ms. Martin:
Thank you for your submission of the 2015 Community Advisory Board (CAB) Annual Report for the Central East Correctional Centre (CECC). The Annual Report has been reviewed by ministry staff and we are already working on the recommendations outlined in your report.
As the Honourable Yasir Naqvi, former Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, noted in his acknowledgement letter to you, the ministry is committed to implementing your recommendations and to the ongoing development of this innovative CAB program.
The transformation of Ontario’s correctional system is a top priority. Work is underway to further address capacity pressures, develop additional supports for inmates with mental illness, reform the bail and remand system and review our segregation policies. We will continue to work with all our correctional partners as we move forward with our mandate to transform our correctional system to develop effective and lasting improvements.
I am pleased to provide the following responses and next steps for the recommendations put forward in the CECC CAB Annual Report.
Recommendation 1: The CAB strongly recommends obtaining a body scanner due to frequency of inmate-on-inmate violence using ceramic knives.
The presence of ceramic knives in the institution is a safety and security concern that the ministry takes very seriously. On May 3, 2016, the former minister announced that all institutions will receive full-body scanners which will detect all contraband, including non-metallic contraband, such as ceramic knives, which were undetectable by current security techniques. Ontario is the first jurisdiction in Canada to install full-body scanners in all adult correctional facilities. The CECC is expecting the installation of its full-body scanner on August 10, 2016.
Recommendation 2: CAB members remained very concerned with labour disruptions, labour negotiations and possible strike action.
The Ontario Public Service Employee Union and Correctional Services established a labour agreement on January 8, 2016, for a term of three years. The contract eliminates the potential of a future strike for correctional services staff and ensures binding arbitration in future negotiations.
Recommendation 3: Lockdowns due to staffing challenges
The ministry recognizes that many institutions across the province require additional staff and we have been working to recruit new correctional officers and provide them with training. Lockdowns occur for a variety of reasons, including staffing shortages which can result from a combination of leaves (vacation, sick or other) as well as having a reduced number of available staff.
Since 2013, 1001 new correctional officers have been deployed to facilities across the province. Hiring remains a priority, which is why over three years, we are hiring 2,000 new correctional officers.
At CECC, the superintendent has been in the process of reviewing the current staffing schedules for both management and staff to find efficiencies that will reduce the number of lockdown hours at the institution.
Recommendation 4: The CAB is concerned with the centralized preparation of communications specifically regarding a detainee’s death at the Peterborough Regional Centre. Public communication about local issues could be enhanced if a local spokesperson were available to address specific institutional issues.
The incident regarding a detainee’s death at the Peterborough Regional Centre is actively under investigation and it would be inappropriate to provide any further comment at this time.
With respect to centralized communications, the ministry’s media relations team works closely with the ministry and across government to ensure that current and accurate information is communicated with consideration for institutional security and privacy matters.
The Communications Branch is developing a communications strategy that will aim to raise the profile of CABs internally and externally.
An update on proposed communications activities will be provided at the CAB annual conference later this fall.
Recommendation 5: (a) Who is responsible for the penalties related to the postponement of the fire suppression system upgrades? (b) The CAB is requesting information from the Ministry whether all the costs related to the detainees’ care are being reimbursed by the Federal Government?
The fire suppression system upgrade project at CECC is currently on hold. Although this project was approved, after the commencement of upgrades, the institution deemed the project insufficient to meet the requirements.
Adjustments are needed to the scope of work to appropriately address system requirements.
The institution is currently operating under a temporary fire certificate. Due to the nature of this project, entire units will need to be cleared in order to complete system upgrades. This project will be re-evaluated in the fall of 2016. While we are not paying penalties, we are maintaining a relationship with the service provider to make the necessary adjustments in order to move forward with the project.
With respect to Part B of the recommendation, the ministry is reimbursed for federal detainees by the federal government on a per diem basis that is revised annually. The current per diem reimbursement rate for federal immigration holds is $261.52.
Recommendation 6: CAB monitoring and activities were curtailed due to extensive labour negotiations.
The ministry understands that the CAB at CECC faced some challenges in fulfilling its duties during the labour negotiations. We appreciate the effort made by the CECC CAB who continued to tour the institution and meet on a regular basis despite ongoing negotiations.
As noted earlier in Recommendation 2, the Ontario Public Service Employee Union and Correctional Services established a labour agreement on January 8, 2016, for a term of three years.
Recommendation 7: Delay with paying CAB member expenses.
As discussed at the 2015 CAB Conference, CAB members now submit expense claims, which are approved by the superintendent, directly to the institution. The expense claims are then submitted by the institution for payment resulting in fewer, if any, delays in payment.
Recommendation 8: Delay of the Mental Health Training due to OPSEU labour negotiation directives.
During labour negotiations some training activities were temporarily on hold.
However, the ministry in partnership with the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health (CAMH), developed a mental health training program for institutional services staff called the Understanding and Responding to Inmates with Mental Health Challenges.
As of June 30, 2016, 370 CECC staff have received the Understanding and Responding to Inmates with Mental Health Challenges training.
Recommendation 9: Ongoing updates to the Segregation Policies.
The ministry is reviewing how segregation is utilized across the provincial correctional system to help guide transformation and identify areas needing change. The five key goals identified for the review of use of segregation in Ontario’s correctional institutions are:
- To ensure clarity around current segregation definitions, polices/practices and to ascertain degree of compliance,
- To identify areas in polices or procedures that require revisions or enhancement,
- To ensure thorough consultation with stakeholders on directions considered,
- To examine staff training around the use of segregation, and
- To complete a final report of recommendations based on findings, literature and jurisdictional scans.
Segregation should never be utilized lightly. We know that segregation can be emotionally and mentally distressing. Individuals who suffer from mental illness are particularly vulnerable.
Our goal is that segregation is used only as a last resort, when all other options have been exhausted.
We are consulting with mental health professionals, ministry staff, the Ombudsman of Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Commission and other stakeholders to see how we might better regulate segregation in our facilities. We are also asking members of the public, as well as those with lived experience in Ontario adult correctional facilities, to provide feedback to help inform the review.
I appreciate the CAB indicating in its Annual Report the many CECC success stories such as the effective integration of Trans inmates in the female unit, the implementation of the new mental health screening tools on site, and the recognition given to the volunteers and the programs they run which provides valuable services to our inmates.
Thank you for all of the hard work that went into the development of your recommendations for the ministry. As volunteer members of the Community Advisory Board, you have gone above and beyond to provide meaningful feedback on the operations at CECC. Please be assured that the ministry values your input and recommendations. The ministry will be working throughout the rest of the year to address as many of your recommendations as possible. I look forward to your ongoing support as we move forward with this very important work.
Associate Deputy Minister, Correctional Services