CAB Report 2016 - Toronto South Detention Centre

Community Advisory Board Annual Report
2016


Toronto South Detention Centre

Toronto, Ontario

April 24, 2017


Preface

Legislative Authority

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
  • 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 of the previous year. The report will also contain observations and recommendations to the Minister of 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 superintendent 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

To develop a strategic plan for the CAB at TSDC.


Community Advisory Board Members

Chair: Dr. Wesley Crichlow, March 17, 2014 - March 17, 2020

Board Members:

Allison Mentis, April 21, 2014 - April 20, 2019
Maureen Helt, March 17, 2014 - March 16, 2019
Nigel Waterman, March 17, 2014 - March 16, 2017
Teri Muszak, Dec. 16, 2016 - Dec. 16, 2019
Michelle Joseph, Dec. 16, 2016 - Dec. 16, 2019


Overview of CAB Activities for 2016

Number of CAB Meetings: 7

Summary

  • At every meeting, the CAB was provided with incident reports for the previous month.
  • Operations, finance, administration, maintenance, staffing segregation issues and forensic early intervention statistics for the previous month were also reported to the CAB.
  • Deputy Superintendents, Staff Sergeants, Sergeants and Managers were on site January 8, 2016 in anticipation of a potential Correctional Bargaining Unit labour disruption. On January 9, 2016, a settlement agreement was reached between the Employer and the Union.
  • Recruitment in process to fill the position of Deputy Superintendent, Finance which will be vacated due to retirement.
  • Mental Health Nurses recruitment.
  • Nursing staff recruitment continuing.
  • Town Hall meetings supporting staff engagement will be occurring March 29 and 30, 2016.
  • Discussed the Direct Supervision model and normalization of the institutional environment.
  • Focus on improving staff work environment – creations of break rooms, vending machines, etc.
  • Implementation of the video bail court (launched April 4, 2016).
  • Maintenance projects were discussed.
  • Electronic Security System -TSDC has established an ESS Sub Committee with members identified from the union, management and training department to ensure information is discussed and reviewed prior to implementation. 
  • Continuing to increase efforts to reduce count by transferring inmates out to other institutions.
  • Daily Tours by Deputies were discussed.
  • The resignation of two Board members and lengthy delays in appointing the new members, two of our meetings did not meet quorum requirement as per CAB terms of reference.
  • CAB minutes are stored in the superintendent’s office bonded in a folder.

Number of Site Visits by CAB: 6

Summary

CAB board members expected number of tours as per our terms of agreement, were impacted by the resignation of two members and unforeseen personal affairs impacting our operations in  fulfilling required CAB institutional tours.

With a skeleton staff, CAB members have visited the institution over the last year speaking with inmates and officers in the process.  Each visit has generally involved at least two members lasting from 1-2 hours per visit. Our site visits have always been accompanied by TSDC management. These visits allow us to learn, understand and operationalize the institution’s limited functionality from observation and conversation with staff and inmates.

Monthly Reports provided to the CAB: CAB members were provided with monthly reports during the fiscal year. These reports tracked incidents and inmate activities. The reports were reviewed and analysed by the CAB members and specific events were the subject of much discussion. The Superintendent and other senior members of management assisted and participated in the analysis and discussion and often provided context and explanation where requested.

Number of Reports/Concerns that Required Action: 0

Number of Concerns Directed to the Superintendent: 4

Summary

An ongoing concern is the number of lockdowns and shortage of staff. This has been an issue for the TSDC since it opened its doors and remains unresolved at this time. This has a serious impact on the mental health of inmates and the morale of staff.

The direct supervision model seems to be adopted by some correctional officers, while some are still grappling with the new concept. This transition from indirect to direct supervision appears to have led to an increase in requests for sick days, which in turn leads to staff shortages and lockdowns.

The inmate population at the institution is diverse and is fully representative of the population in the Greater Toronto Area. In fact, there is a large group of visible minorities and people who have been historically marginalized that form the inmate population. Despite the growing numbers, they have not been accommodated in the planning and implementation of policies, programming and services. There are no culturally appropriate programs and or services geared to them, no cultural books or community magazines specific to their culture and the food they eat does not form their regular diet. CAB members have observed examples of management and frontline staff who are insensitive to the needs of the inmates. It appeared to the CAB they do not fully comprehend their mannerisms or demands and this leads to misunderstanding, cultural conflict and over-reliance on the use of segregation as discipline.

The inmate population includes highly skilled individuals with skills that can be made useful to other inmates in particular and the institution in general. Inmates who are academics or cultural community workers, in conjunction with ministry officials, should be asked to mentor other inmates to learn basic skills. Skills such as reading, writing letters, filling out job application forms, etc. Inmates who are musicians or other artists should be permitted to entertain the inmates and display their art work.

Number of Concerns Directed to the Minister: 5

Summary

  • Our CAB members would like more clarity on the Risk Management Assessment, which does not appear to comply with the Terms of Reference describing the CAB as an advisory board;
  • CAB Chair is not sure why annually the Chair has to sign a public sector salary disclosure (pssd) given that they are not employed by OIC, OPS, crown agency, provincial agency;
  • CAB would like to see a major reduction in lockdowns, which are very frequent on weekends, holidays and during the summer hot months;
  • CAB is concerned about contraband and the related inmate assaults;
  • CAB observed that the upper Management staff at the TSDC is still disproportionately occupied by white males and would like to know what the ministry’s employment equity plans for addressing equity, diversity and inclusion within the ranks of upper management at TSDC.

Presentations and Training

Number of Presentations made to the CAB: 4

Summary

The following presentations were made:

  • April 20, 2016 - (FEIS) Forensic Early Intervention Services
  • May 25, 2016 - Regional Recruit Presentation
  • March 08, 2017 – (IST) Institutional Search Team
  • November 2, 2017 - Annual CAB conference 

Number of Training Sessions Completed: 1

Summary

Two new CAB members were provided with CAB training and orientation in December 2016.


Observations

The Operation of the Institution

Overuse of Inmate Lockdowns

Lockdowns are used excessively, especially on weekends, to manage inmates at times of staff shortages. This reduces effective rehabilitation by negatively impacting inmates’ scope of activities and increasing their anger and frustration. This, in turn, negatively affects inmates’ health issues and results in an increase in human rights complaints.

Cook-Chill Meals

Inmates and staff have alluded to problems inherent with the cook-chill meal system. They complain that the food is of poor nutritional quality, insensitive to religious and cultural minority needs, and unpalatable. From CAB visits we were informed by staff and inmate workers that on a weekly basis a high percentage (roughly 85%) of the cook-chill food goes into the garbage. This also poses a number of environmental, health and safety concerns.

Lockdowns and Staff Shortages

CAB has not seen any improvement in the number of lockdowns at the TSDC in the four years since the TSDC has been operational. The result is that inmates are in lockdown on average four days a week, which results in inmates spending up to 22-hours per day in their cell with limited access to their shower time, yard time, use of the phone and time being able to talk and interact with other inmates. The harmful impact of this cannot be underestimated. It is similar to the treatment of inmates in segregation and is inappropriate. The staff shortages result in part from the failure of correctional officers to embrace the direct supervision model and due to their low morale.

Ethnically and Culturally Specific Programming

The face of Ontario jails and corrections is changing. As the Canadian population has become increasingly diverse, so too has the provincial and federal offender population.  Visible minorities now constitute 18% of the total federally sentenced offender population (those incarcerated and in the community), which is largely consistent with representation rates in Canadian society of 19.1% (Statistics Canada, 2011 National Household Survey, 2013). As mentioned previously, Black and Aboriginal people disproportionately fill Ontario’s provincial jails. While research indicates that correctional programs are equally effective across a broad range of ethnic groups, particularly in terms of a decreased likelihood of recidivism, it is also noted that offender ethnicity and culture are important in effectively administering correctional programming (Usher & Stewart, 2011). Despite the increase in racial, cultural, linguistic minorities and Indigenous peoples, in discussion with management and frontline staff, there tends to be an emphasis on criminogenic programming and not on ethnic, cultural and linguistic programming for inmates, essential for rehabilitation, community and cultural reintegration.

Institution Impact on the Community

CAB members did not observe any impacts to the community.

Administration of the Institution

Increasing Staff Diversity Employment Equity

On March 21, 2016, then-Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Yasir Naqvi announced that the province would hire 2,000 correctional officers over the subsequent three years.  He further announced that Ontario would continue to promote diversity within Correctional Services by targeting recruitment to ensure that correctional officers reflect the diverse communities that they serve. According to a Toronto Star article (2013), Black and Aboriginal people disproportionately fill Ontario’s provincial jails. Increasing diversity presents important challenges for the Ministry with respect to correctional worker and management cultural expertise in delivering cultural programs and services as well as conducting representative hiring and addressing the need for greater staff cultural competence, awareness and sensitivity training specific to TSDC. The TSDC CAB observed that the upper Management staff at the TSDC is still disproportionately occupied by white males. The often unconscious and unintentional biases against women and racial minorities in hiring, promotion and retention must be addressed (Abella, 1984).

Direct Supervision

Management and correctional officers have informed CAB members that the direct supervision model appears to have been adopted by some correctional officers but many experienced correctional officers have expressed resistance and resentment towards the model.  The impact of the failure to embrace the direct supervision model has led to decreased morale amongst the correctional officers resulting in increased requests for sick days which in turn leads to staff shortages and lockdowns. Research has shown that the direct supervision model, with correctional officers inside each unit and no physical barriers impeding supervision, is intended to create a safe environment, contains and controls inmate violence, is better for controlling gang issues in the facility, is more humane, easily programmed for inmates, enhances rehabilitation programs, promotes management of inmates’ behavior and contributes to a stress-free environment for all involved inmates/staff. Direct supervision conveys an expectation of positive inmate behavior as it facilitates staff interaction with inmates whose levels of boredom, aggression and stress decrease as a result.

Maintenance

CAB board members have requested an organizational chart to explain the ongoing maintenance concerns at TSDC. TSDC management have been uncertain of the maintenance accountability structure currently in operation. Maintenance of the institution is integral to the optimal functioning of TSDC as well as the safety of staff and inmates.


The Treatment of Inmates

Use of segregation

The use of segregation in Ontario jails and corrections is publicly acknowledged as on going concern. We have observed that the definition, use and tracking of segregation across the system is not equitably applied or understood. The impact of the above means that segregation is used for a variety of issues, not as a last resort, as per ministry policy, and the number of days inmates are placed into segregation is not well tracked. The health concerns and violation of human rights of segregation (solitary confinement), is well documented by the United Nations in their Interim Report July 28, 2008.

In addition, CAB members note that mentally ill and in some instances LGBTTQ2S inmates are often placed in segregation or the special handling unit for safety purposes as there is insufficient capacity in the mental health unit, or direct/indirect supervision units to accommodate the number of inmates with mental health challenges and those identified as LGBTQ2S.

The Infirmary Unit

The growing number of terminally ill persons living with HIV and severe mental illness is increasing in our correctional facilities. TSDC has been open for more than four years and the infirmary unit has not been operational. We are very concerned. The infirmary is built to house chronically ill inmates, inmates requiring mental health monitoring, on the job injured correctional workers and management.

Summary of Recommendations to the Ministry

Recommendation 1:
CAB recommends that Ministry officials develop strategies and programs to reduce over-reliance inmate on lockdowns. A key piece to this strategy is to accelerate hiring through the Ministry of 2000 new correctional officers. Increasing staffing levels at Ontario's correctional facilities will greatly enhance access to rehabilitation and reintegration programs, strengthen mental health supports, and improve staff and inmate safety.

Recommendation 2:
CAB recommends that ministry officials immediately review the current cook-chill meal program with the provider, kitchen staff, and other ministry officials to aim for better quality and portion sizes. This requires improving the food’s nutritional value and addressing the cultural practices and religious dietary needs of the ethnocultural inmate population to humanize the inmate experience, as nutritious food contributes to healthy rehabilitation.

Recommendation 3:
CAB also recommends that these improvements to the canteen offerings are undertaken in such a way as to keep snack foods affordable to inmates.

Recommendation 4:
CAB recommends that ministry officials hold accountable the TSDC maintenance contractor and make the necessary arrangements to ensure work requests are fulfilled within a fair and reasonable time. The ministry must take decisive action to improve the institution’s maintenance to make it a safe living and working environment for inmates and staff.

Recommendation 5:
Given the ministry’s commitment to promoting diversity within Correctional Services by targeting recruitment to ensure that correctional officers reflect the diverse communities that they serve,  the CAB recommends that the ministry  be  committed to the principles and practice of employment equity for racialized groups, women, LGBTQS persons, persons with disabilities, and Indigenous staff members at all levels to address systemic discrimination in staff recruitment, hiring, retention, evaluation and management promotion. As a program to address systemic discrimination, Employment equity was designed to identify and eliminate discriminatory policies and practices that act as barriers to fair employment. Networks, friendships and favouritism have shaped employment practices to exclude people who would otherwise merit the job. Employment equity promotes fair hiring and personnel practices to make sure that employees are hired for only one reason—their qualifications to do the job (Abella, 1984; Lopes & Thomas, 2006, p. 267). The ministry must further identify and remove systemic barriers, lessen or prevent disadvantage and promote substantive equality for people identified by the Ontario Human Rights Code grounds to promote workplace equity.

Recommendation 6:
CAB recommends that management engaging in the direct supervision classification of inmates should have expertise working in direct supervision and gang residents under direct supervision. In addition, CAB sees the potential benefit of management working with the Toronto East Detention Center (TEDC), probation officers and the Toronto police guns and gang unit to better understand the challenges (re: gangs).  CAB further recommends that a two-year pilot project with Canadian experts in the field of direct supervision (academics, gangs and direct supervision expertise) be established to measure the effectiveness of the direct supervision model.

Recommendation 7:
CAB further recommends that the administration at TSDC implement work with the TEDC to implement the “security threat group policy” which is fully operationalized and successful at the TEDC.  

Recommendation 8:
CAB recommends that the ministry better identify and manage the needs and cultural interests of Indigenous, racialized, and ethno-cultural minority inmates and make mandatory programs and services which address those needs and concerns.  Three areas in particular are the focus of this recommendation:  institutional programming, the availability of cultural products (e.g. ethic newspapers, ethnic magazines and cultural food), and cultural community support. Key to implementing this recommendation is achieving the necessary cultural competence and expertise amongst community, correctional workers and management.

CAB further recommends TSDC develop stronger positive partnering with ethno-cultural communities and agencies to meet the needs rehabilitation and community re-integration from the diverse ethno-cultural inmate population.

Recommendation 9:
CAB recommends that the ministry hire the necessary medical staff to have the infirmary fully operational as soon as possible. The staff should be a part of multi-disciplinary teams, with proper staff training, and partnerships with community agencies, in the appropriate circumstances, to support the infirmary.

Recommendation 10:
CAB has discussed with management the need to hire more correctional officers and it is the understanding of CAB that steps are being taken in this regard. In addition, it is CAB’s understanding that steps are being taken to monitor more closely the sick days being taken by correctional officers and management.

With respect to mentally ill inmates, CAB does recognize that the alliance between Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the TSDC to provide care for those inmates with mental health issues is very positive. However, there is a greater need to accommodate and provide this service to all inmates (culturally, racially, linguistically) with mental health challenges.

Recommendation 11:
CAB is recommending that the ministry develop a plan to improve segregation conditions which outline the steps required to improve the use, tracking and review process for segregation.

Looking Forward.
In preparation of this report, the Ombudsman report, April 2017, “Out of Oversight, Out of Mind” was released, on the definition, use and tracking of segregation across the Ontario system, highlighting the inequities applied in its use. Looking forward for our 2017 CAB report, TSDC CAB intends to respond to this report. There was also the Sapers report. The Ministry has responded now and seems motivated to implement the changes.

Appendix

List of Attachments

Appendix A: References

Submitted April 25, 2017

_____________________________________
Wesley Crichlow, PhD, Chair


Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services letterhead

Mr. Wesley Crichlow
Chair, Community Advisory Board
Toronto South Detention Centre

Dear Mr. Crichlow:

Thank you for your submission of the 2016 Community Advisory Board (CAB) Annual Report for the Toronto South Detention Centre. This letter confirms our receipt of the Annual Report for 2016.

We truly appreciate all of the time you and your fellow CAB members give each year to this program. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services values all of the work you put into the Annual Report, providing us with a comprehensive list of recommendations based on your observations at the institution.

In order to provide feedback and to address the issues and recommendations for your specific institution more efficiently, we have updated the review process. The Superintendent and Regional Director will meet with the CAB to provide a response to items in the Annual Report that can be resolved at the local level. In addition to this meeting, the Associate Deputy Minister will respond to the higher level operational and systemic issues that have been identified.

The ministry understands the importance of addressing the recommendations from the Annual Report and will work to respond to the issues in a timely manner.

I look forward to working with the CABs in the coming year to continue to increase transparency and provide the public with a greater understanding of the work being done in correctional services. I also look forward to seeing you at the CAB Conference on July 14.

Sincerely,

Marie-France Lalonde
Minister

 

Associate Deputy Minister letterhead

July 6, 2017

Dr. Wesley Crichlow
Chair, Community Advisory Board
Toronto South Detention Centre

Dear Dr. Crichlow:

Thank you for your submission of the 2016 Community Advisory Board (CAB) Annual Report for the Toronto South Detention Centre (TSDC). The Annual Report has been reviewed by the ministry and we offer our responses and proposed actions to your recommendations below.

As the Honourable Marie-France Lalonde, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, noted in her acknowledgement letter to you, the ministry understands the importance of addressing your recommendations. The CABs have been vital in providing an objective view on the operational and systemic issues in our facilities.

The ministry is committed to collaborating with our correctional partners to modernize Ontario’s correctional system and to be a leader in correctional service delivery.

The transformation of Ontario’s correctional system is ongoing. Segregation remains one of our top priorities for reform. The Ombudsman recently released a report on the use of segregation and the report from our Independent Advisor on Corrections Reform, Mr. Howard Sapers, was released on May 4, 2017, outlining his recommendations for the use of segregation in Ontario.

Addressing access to mental health supports for our clients has also been a high priority item with respect to transformation. Additional mental health resources have been provided to various institutions across the province to better care for our clients with mental health issues.

On behalf of the ministry, thank you for the time you have given to this program and outlining your concerns in the report.  Your observations and recommendations will assist us on our journey towards improving Correctional Services in Ontario.

I am pleased to provide the following responses:

Recommendation 1: CAB recommends that ministry officials develop strategies and programs to reduce over-reliance on lockdowns. A key piece to this strategy is to accelerate hiring, through the ministry, of 2,000 new correctional officers. Increasing staffing levels at Ontario's correctional facilities will greatly enhance access to rehabilitation and reintegration programs, strengthen mental health supports, and improve staff and inmate safety.

As you know, lockdowns occur for a variety of reasons, including responding to a serious security concern or medical quarantine or staff shortages resulting from a combination of leaves (vacation, sickness or other). Correctional Services monitors lockdowns (full and partial) and aims to reduce the number of lockdowns in our facilities so that impacts to clients are minimal.

The ministry understands that there are still challenges related to staffing which can impact the number and frequency of lockdowns. The Correctional Services Recruitment Unit (CSRU) is responsible for the development and delivery of our recruitment strategy. In order to meet the needs of Correctional Services, the ministry aims to hire 1,200 recruits by the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year. The CSRU is working on posting open competitions for Correctional Officer positions every two months (approximately five to six postings per fiscal year).  

In the 2016-17 fiscal year (April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017), 798 recruits graduated from the Correctional Officer Training and Assessment (COTA) program and were deployed across the province. In February 2017, TSDC hosted their own COTA class with 25 graduating recruits. In total 136 new recruits were deployed to TSDC in 2016-17. We are also expecting to host another TSDC COTA class in August 2017 for another 25 recruits. Since March 2016, 208 COTA graduates have been deployed to TSDC.

Additionally, the CSRU has made ongoing efforts to increase recruitment and hiring of Correctional Officers in order to meet the needs of TSDC. In March 2017, an advertising campaign and TSDC specific job posting were initiated. Over 1,500 resumes were received.  The CSRU worked closely with the TSDC staff in the organization of multiple open houses and tours of the facility. The tours received positive and encouraging feedback from applicants. Approximately 500 applicants in total attended at least one open house/tour event.

Recommendation 2: CAB recommends that ministry officials immediately review the current cook-chill meal program with the provider, kitchen staff, and other ministry officials to aim for better quality and portion sizes. This requires improving the food’s nutritional value and addressing the cultural practices and religious dietary needs of the ethnocultural inmate population to humanize the inmate experience, as nutritious food contributes to healthy rehabilitation.

The ministry continues to work with the service provider to change and/or improve meals as appropriate. Concerns raised regarding food taste, quality (texture, appearance, portion size) and waste have been noted and were discussed with the service provider to determine necessary steps. Should an urgent issue arise, immediate steps are taken for resolution and follow ups are made as needed. All issues are tracked at weekly meetings between the ministry and the service provider. Further, the summary is reviewed and discussed at quarterly meetings held between the ministry food service managers and the service provider.

The ministry continues to examine options to modernize the food service delivery program throughout the province, including TSDC. Work is continuing on the formalization of a continuous quality improvement process for the Cook Chill Program, which provides meals to TSDC. Improving the delivery of food remains a priority for the ministry and the CAB will be kept apprised of the quality improvement process.

The ministry does incorporate cultural foods into the regular menu. For example, Indigenous people traditionally eat foods such as fish, berries and squash, which are incorporated into the regular menu. We also have incorporated several other culturally specific dishes into the regular menu such as Jamaican patties, beans and rice and curry. As well, we accommodate special meals during religious/cultural celebrations such as Ramadan and Indigenous feasts. TSDC held a summer solstice feast on June 21, 2017, with traditional Indigenous foods. Given the diverse inmate population at TSDC, the ministry will continue to explore culturally sensitive food options.

Recommendation 3: CAB also recommends that these improvements to the canteen offerings are undertaken in such a way as to keep snack foods affordable to inmates.

The ministry holds a vendor of record agreement with Compass Group Canada (CGC) for canteen services for all institutions. Canteen food items are optional and supplementary to the daily meals and snacks provided by the ministry. During the canteen selection process, the cost of items are evaluated and quality and affordability are considered. Furthermore, as per the agreement with CGC, the ministry requires a signed letter from each supplier confirming the suggested retail price of their product. This allows the ministry to ensure the prices of canteen items are not artificially inflated. Any suggested changes to the canteen list require the ministry to do a review of the suggested items, which includes looking at quality, affordability, safety, health and institutional requirements prior to selecting additional items. There is also a provincial canteen committee which is responsible for reviewing and managing the items on the canteen list. I have asked the program advisor responsible for the CAB portfolio to invite a ministry representative to a future CAB Chair teleconference to explore this issue further.

Recommendation 4: CAB recommends that ministry officials hold accountable the TSDC maintenance contractor and make the necessary arrangements to ensure work requests are fulfilled within a fair and reasonable time. The ministry must take decisive action to improve the institution’s maintenance to make it a safe living and working environment for inmates and staff.

As per your above recommendation, maintaining a safe and healthy environment for our clients and staff must continue to be a priority for the ministry.

The maintenance contractor for TSDC is managed by Infrastructure Ontario. The agreement between the contractor and Infrastructure Ontario outlines the types of maintenance and services to be delivered with a corresponding timeline for completion which must be met in order to remain compliant with the terms of their agreement. The process for submitting maintenance tickets is also outlined in the agreement.

To help manage ongoing maintenance and retrofit projects with the contractor, TSDC hired a project manager on a temporary basis. This has assisted with improving timelines as the project manager is dedicated to ensuring that any issues or questions related to an ongoing maintenance project are addressed in a timely manner as to not delay the process. TSDC will include the project manager on an upcoming CAB meeting to discuss working with the contractor.

Recommendation 5: The CAB recommends that the ministry be committed to the principles and practice of employment equity for racialized groups, women, LGBTQS persons, persons with disabilities, and Indigenous staff members at all levels to address systemic discrimination in staff recruitment, hiring, retention, evaluation and management promotion. The ministry must further identify and remove systemic barriers, lessen or prevent disadvantage and promote substantive equality for people identified by the Ontario Human Rights Code grounds to promote workplace equity.

The OPS is committed to inclusive, accessible, diverse and equitable workplaces. There are OPS-wide policies, tools and resources to support fair and equitable recruitment and hiring processes.

The ministry shares this commitment and is developing tools and initiatives to help such as:

  • identifying and addressing barriers in the recruitment process
  • supporting decision-making (e.g., by recognizing and addressing biases)
  • making our workplaces more inclusive. 

As part of the Systemic Change Program managed by the Ministry Employee Relations Committee – Diversity Subcommittee, one initiative is aimed at helping to identify, remove and prevent barriers in the hiring process and mitigate their effects. Recruitment consultants provide training materials to hiring managers as part of their preparation for interview panels.

Correctional Services, in partnership with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) and the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS), is implementing a multi-year Human Rights Plan (HRP) to identify and address discrimination and harassment in Correctional Services’ employment and services. The HRP covers all Human Rights Code-protected groups, with a special focus on the unique needs and concerns of Indigenous peoples.

The HRP’s “inclusive workplaces” commitment area is focused on having a diverse workforce, with inclusive workplaces and employment processes. This includes:

  • applying and embedding human rights principles and Indigenous perspectives to employment policies, processes, etc. to identify and address barriers,
  • looking for opportunities to collect data to better understand our employees and their human rights-related needs,
  • creating goals for a diverse workforce and developing corresponding action plans,
  • increasing the number of Indigenous people in recruitment-related roles,
  • developing an outreach plan for under-represented groups.

Under the HRP, Correctional Services also developed an Indigenous lens framework (guide) and is creating supporting tools to help employees think about and apply Indigenous peoples’ perspectives in all of our work, including recruitment processes to support inclusive hiring.

The HRP is expected to help make Correctional Services more responsive to diverse employee and client (inmate/offender) groups and to support workplaces and services/service delivery that are inclusive, diverse, equitable, accessible and consistent with human rights principles and Indigenous perspectives.

The intent of our recruitment outreach strategy is to recruit individuals from various diverse backgrounds and identities, including culturally and ethnically diverse, LGBTQ and French communities. The ministry continues to engage with individuals who are coming out of high school, college and university graduates, as well as those entering into a second career. We are also focusing efforts and outreach on culturally specific events to promote correctional careers to ethnically diverse groups which will help to increase diversity among our staff.

CSRU has attended over 150 events across the province including:

  • Wahta Mohawks: Meeting
  • Ottawa Eid Al-Fitr & Muslim Summer Festival
  • Anokiiwin Office of Shooniyaa Wa-Biitong – Job Connect for Treaty 3 – Fort Frances
  • Oshweken Employment Centre
  • Jerkfest – Toronto
  • TD SouthAsian Festival – Ottawa
  • Palestinian Festival – Ottawa
  • Multi-cultural event – Timmins
  • Barrie, Kingston, Niagara, Hamilton, Toronto, Muskoka, Windsor-Essex, Ottawa Capital and Peterborough Pride Festivals
  • Maamwi Kindaaswin Education Day, Festival & Powwow Celebration – North Bay
  • Association of Black Law Enforcement (ABLE) Gala

Correctional Services also supports employee networks to foster and support an inclusive environment, celebrate common ethnicities, ancestries, and gender; as well as diverse gender identities, expressions and sexual orientations. These grassroots, employee-driven associations enable staff to meet, share information and collaborate with colleagues.

The four employee networks in Correctional Services are:

  • Women in Corrections
  • Pride in Corrections
  • The Council for Unity and Racial Equality
  • Correctional Services – Nation to Nation

Recommendation 6: CAB recommends that management engaging in the direct supervision classification of inmates should have expertise working in Direct Supervision and gang residents under Direct Supervision. In addition, CAB sees the potential benefit of management working with the Toronto East Detention Center (TEDC), probation officers and the Toronto Police Guns and Gang Unit to better understand the challenges (re: gangs).  CAB further recommends that a two-year pilot project with Canadian experts in the field of Direct Supervision (academics, gangs and direct supervision expertise) be established to measure the effectiveness of the Direct Supervision model.

Staff working at TSDC receive Direct Supervision (DS) and security threat group training during the COTA program. Staff then receive on site orientation which includes job shadowing and have had exposure with the DS model as there have been DS units at TSDC since the facility first opened in 2014.

The ministry plans to evaluate the effectiveness of the DS facilities in the province.  We are currently preparing a readiness assessment to determine whether either of our DS facilities is at a point where an outcome evaluation is appropriate. The design of this readiness assessment has been informed by experts in this field. The design of the effectiveness evaluation has also been informed by published studies conducted by researchers who would be considered experts in the examination of this model of supervision.

Due to the sensitive nature of this information, the strategies used at TSDC to manage gangs will be discussed in more detail at an upcoming meeting with the CAB.

Recommendation 7: CAB further recommends that the administration at TSDC implement work with the TEDC to implement the “security threat group policy” which is fully operationalized and successful at the TEDC.  

TSDC has been working in partnership with internal ministry resources, other institutions, probation and parole offices, and police services to compile information on security threat groups. TSDC will review what is currently being used at the Toronto East Detention Centre and determine what is applicable to the facility and incorporate any changes that will assist in managing security threat groups.

Recommendation 8: CAB recommends that the ministry better identify and manage the needs and cultural interests of Indigenous, racialized, and ethno-cultural minority inmates and make mandatory programs and services which address those needs and concerns. Three areas in particular are the focus of this recommendation:  institutional programming, the availability of cultural products (e.g. ethic newspapers, ethnic magazines and cultural food), and cultural community support. Key to implementing this recommendation is achieving the necessary cultural competence and expertise amongst community, correctional workers and management. CAB further recommends TSDC develop stronger positive partnering with ethnocultural communities and agencies to meet the needs rehabilitation and community reintegration from the diverse ethno-cultural inmate population.

As part of reforms underway in the provincial correctional system, the ministry has hired an additional 239 staff and deployed them to provincial institutions to help reduce the use of segregation and support clients as they transition back to general population. As part of the 239 new staff, TSDC received a new librarian. The librarian will be responsible for selecting and vetting ethnic newspapers and magazines to ensure they meet clients’ needs and are safe for our institution. TSDC will facilitate requests from clients as well as solicit correctional officers when considering which items will be brought into the institution. TSDC is also working on updating their current library to include a more diverse selection of reading materials for clients.

In an effort to improve the effectiveness of core programs, the ministry developed an education series designed to address the needs of African Canadian male inmates and offenders. The session was developed as a pilot under the name ‘African Canadian Excellence’ (ACE) group. The Offender Programs Unit (OPU) worked collaboratively with a rehabilitation officer at the TSDC to develop a four-part life skills education session for Black inmates. The feedback received from inmates about the sessions was overwhelmingly positive. We are looking at potentially expanding the pilot to additional institutions which would benefit from more specific cultural programming.

TSDC also offers the Helping Inmates Plan Positively (HIPP) program. The volunteer program is targeted to African-Caribbean inmates and offered through the John Howard Society. We also have multiple cultural, spiritual and religious care volunteer programs including Muslim prayer services, and Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese volunteers who provide specific programming to clients of their ethnicity.

With respect to Indigenous programming and services, work is underway to address Correctional Services’ commitments under The Journey Together: Ontario’s Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples (Ontario’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Calls to Action) to:

  • enhance healing and cultural supports for Indigenous clients in custody and community supervision
  • work collaboratively with Indigenous partners, organizations and communities to design and develop these services and supports

To address these commitments, Correctional Services engaged with Indigenous organizations, community partners and service providers across the province to identify service gaps and develop initiatives, options and other recommendations to enhance healing, cultural, spiritual and other services and supports to accommodate and address the unique needs of Indigenous clients. We also established an Elders Council to guide these engagement sessions in culturally appropriate ways.

We are planning to implement key recommendations arising out of these sessions including (among other things):

  • developing a policy framework to provide clear direction on services and supports for Indigenous clients, and
  • increasing funding for contracted Indigenous service providers to enhance the availability of, and clients’ access to Elders, Native Inmate Liaison Officers (NILOs) and Community Corrections Workers (CCWs) to provide services (e.g., traditional cultural, spiritual and healing ceremonies and practices, teachings, counseling, programs, etc.) to support Indigenous clients.

Recommendation 9: CAB recommends that the ministry hire the necessary medical staff to have the infirmary fully operational as soon as possible. The staff should be a part of multi-disciplinary teams, with proper staff training, and partnerships with community agencies, in the appropriate circumstances, to support the infirmary.

The infirmary at TSDC is ready for use but the onsite medical unit has mitigated the need to utilize it to date. Additionally, there have been some challenges with staffing to support the full time operation of the infirmary and the ministry is working to address this. Medical services at TSDC include assessment, diagnoses and treatment of a wide range of health conditions, including chronic/critical illnesses. Onsite healthcare providers include doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, psychiatrists, psychologists and pharmacy specialists. Appropriate training will be provided to all staff who will be working in the infirmary. The ministry is also working with the CSRU to build up the staff complement at TSDC in order to service all areas of the institution. Building up the staffing complement at TSDC is a major priority for the ministry. 

Recommendation 10: CAB has discussed with management the need to hire more correctional officers and it is the understanding of CAB that steps are being taken in this regard. In addition, it is CAB’s understanding that steps are being taken to monitor more closely the sick days being taken by correctional officers and management. With respect to mentally ill inmates, CAB does recognize that the alliance between the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the TSDC to provide care for those inmates with mental health issues is very positive. However, there is a greater need to accommodate and provide this service to all inmates (culturally, racially, and linguistically) with mental health challenges.

The Correctional Services Recruitment Unit (CSRU) is responsible for the development and delivery of a recruitment strategy. The CSRU is set up with eight regional recruiters in the major centres and associate recruiters who are local, experienced correctional officers at each institution. The strategy includes engaging with potential recruits at job fairs, discussion panels, cultural and community events. In order to meet the hiring needs of Correctional Services, the ministry must clear 1,200 recruits by the end of 2017-18 fiscal year. The CSRU is working on posting open competitions for Correctional Officer positions every two months (approximately five to six postings per fiscal year). Additionally the CSRU has posted three additional target postings this fiscal year for high priority facilities (TSDC, Monteith Correctional Complex and Kenora Jail). The CSRU is striving to obtain 300 or more active applicants per open posting.

Under the HRP’s “inclusive workplaces” commitment area, human rights and Indigenous considerations are included in the recruitment strategy. Employment-related policies and practices are also being reviewed under the HRP to identify and remove systemic barriers and to help make Correctional Services workplaces more diverse, inclusive and desirable for potential employees. 

The CSRU has put strategies in place in order to keep more applicants in the correctional officer competition pool, including but not limited to:

  • Post orientation material online
  • Review correctional officer job criteria to identify and address barriers
  • Adopt a condensed testing/interview day
  • Provide information and direction for FITCO, CPR, and security clearances to candidates from the first point of contact with the potential candidates
  • Offer FITCO testing prior to the written competency based testing phase
  • Offer open houses at each of the institutions in order to spark interest in not only the institution itself, but as well as a career in Corrections

As noted in recommendation 1, 208 new recruits were deployed to TSDC since March 2016.

In terms of providing more culturally specific care to our clients with mental health requirements, TSDC endeavors to accommodate the needs of all our clients. As a ministry, we are required to accommodate all clients based on the Human Rights Code requirements to the point of undue hardship. Where there are specific needs (culturally, racially, linguistically), TSDC will work to find the appropriate resources to properly service the client.

TSDC also has three special needs units which provide more intensive mental health care to clients and a Mental Health Assessment Unit (MHAU), which is operated in partnership with the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health.

With respect to sick time for staff, the Deputy Superintendent of Staff Services at TSDC is responsible for managing staff absences and has been notified of the concern.

Recommendation 11: CAB is recommending that the ministry develop a plan to improve segregation conditions which outline the steps required to improve the use, tracking and review process for segregation.

As noted above, the Ombudsman’s report on segregation was released on April 20, 2017, which was followed by the report on segregation in Ontario by Mr. Howard Sapers on May 4, 2017. These reviews, coupled with the work done to date within the ministry, will provide the best advice for moving forward and reforming the way we use segregation and we will be taking action on their recommendations immediately.

Many of the HRP initiatives are directly related to or closely aligned with the Ombudsman’s and Sapers’ recommendations. For example, both the Ombudsman’s and Sapers’ reports recommended making significant improvements to segregation conditions, including more effective and accurate ways to track clients in segregation, as well as collecting human rights specific data. One of the HRP initiatives will be to conduct a client survey to collect and analyze client human rights related experiences, including segregation, to identify and address systemic issues/trends. There is also an HRP initiative on reviewing operational policies and processes from a human rights and Indigenous perspectives. In addition, the client human rights and accommodation policy includes tracking, monitoring and reporting processes.

As mentioned above in Recommendation 8, to help alleviate the challenges related to segregation in Ontario adult correctional institutions, 239 new positions were added across the province. TSDC received three records clerks, one librarian, one social worker and one chaplain.

Conclusion

The role of the CAB is not only to provide us with recommendations on improvements, but also to highlight some of the great work going on in our institutions. I would like to thank you for recognizing the many success stories as outlined in the Annual Report, including the participation of TSDC management in meetings to provide monthly updates and clarity on issues at the institution.

I truly appreciate all of the hard work that went into your Annual Report this year. The recommendations made by the CAB are important to our continuous growth and transformation.

I would like to thank you for volunteering your time to the ministry as CAB member. Committed volunteers are hard to find and we are grateful to have you and all of the CAB members at TSDC as a part of the correctional services team.

I look forward to working with the CAB this year on implementing as many of the recommendations as possible and I am excited to see this innovative program develop into its full potential.

Sincerely,

Marg Welch
Associate Deputy Minister, Correctional Services