CAB Report 2014 - Central North Correctional Centre

Community Advisory Board Annual Report


Central North Correctional Centre

Penetanguishene, Ontario

April 24, 2015


Overview

The Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC) Community Advisory Board (CAB) was established in November 2001. Formerly known as a Board of Monitors, the CNCC was Ontario’s inaugural CAB.

CNCC CAB members

Chair: Malcolm D. McKinnon, appointed April 21, 2005, term April 19, 2016

Board Members:
Michael Gagnon appointed Aug. 2, 2007, term July 31, 2015
Robert Haley, appointed April 1, 2005, term April 20, 2016
Melanie Marchand, appointed Aug. 2, 2007, term July 31, 2015
Timothy Vaillancourt, appointed Dec. 15, 2010, term Dec. 14, 2016
Vera Barycky (resigned) , appointed June 24, 2013, term June 23, 2016

Meetings

All nine meetings of the CAB were held at the CNCC. Each meeting was held with a quorum of board members. There were no meetings scheduled for the months of July or August. Also in attendance for the meetings were the Superintendent and Deputies for each department, or a delegate that reported on their areas of responsibility. Copies of the meeting minutes, agendas and related materials are filed at the facility for reference and safe keeping.

Site visits

CAB members made 10 site visits over the reporting period.

Number of concerns that required action directed to the Superintendent

The CAB directed five concerns to the Superintendent:

  • Staff reported that they did not have access to a new door added to the Medical Unit. The matter was reviewed and staff now use this portal on a regular basis.
  • An inmate advised a CAB member that on his transfer to CNCC, his property including a backpack, wallet, cash and cheque were missing. Staff could not locate his personal effects. The CAB has since been advised that his property was located and the issue successfully resolved.
  • CNCC had developed a pilot program to operate an Institutional Security Team to reduce the amount of contraband entering the facility by increasing searches and intelligence gathering. The CAB feels strongly that this initiative should be adopted as a permanent unit.
  • An increase in the number of offenders with mental health issues. The health care team at CNCC has developed and instituted a mental health triage tool that is currently being used to classify inmates at risk with mental illness.
  • Concern over the excessive cost of community escorts and security for offenders at local health care facilities. Due to the shortage of regular correctional officers, many community escorts have to be tasked as overtime (with part-time staff called in to cover shifts), and CNCC must hire police officers to provide security at the hospital if inmates are admitted for medical treatment.

Concerns presented directly to the Minister

There were no concerns presented directly to the Minister.

Presentations and training

Five presentations were made to the CAB:

  • Use of the Mental Health Referral/Triage Tool
  • The President of OPSEU Local 369 outlined his position as a union representative at CNCC
  • Overview of programs for Aboriginal inmates
  • Training session on the handling of misconducts and adjudication process for offenders
  • How serious incidents would be handled at CNCC including, the roles of senior management, Crisis Negotiation Team, Institutional Crisis Intervention Teams at the facility and protocols in the case of a hostage incident

Observations

CNCC is a well-run facility. The institution is led by a team of professionals who lead by example. They maintain a high level of service standards, which are expected to be followed throughout the facility. The institution should be proud of their successful practices not only from the ministry but also the community stakeholders. If there are issues that arise within the facility, corrective actions are implemented immediately. Reviews and investigations are initiated at the local level or transferred to the corporate level based on the gravity of the situation.

The CAB is also advised if an investigation has been initiated and the outcome of the review.

It is imperative that the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services improve communication with the CABs. Members are taking their time to perform the duties set out by the terms of reference, and by submitting correspondence to the ministry. Recommendations provided by way of annual reports deserve a response.

The Operation of the Institution

Communication

Senior management operate as a cohesive unit that communicates well with each other and shares a combined vision that success can be achieved and maintained. Communication is key to the success of any institution. In addition to daily briefings with the Deputies, and further meetings conducted with Operational Managers, senior management at CNCC regularly tour the institution to meet staff and observe day-to-day operations. These tours have increased the lines of communication between management and frontline correctional staff.

CAB recruitment

The CNCC CAB has had a vacancy for six months. In previous years it has taken over one year to find a suitable candidate and fill a vacancy. This impacts the effectiveness of our Board by reducing the number of site visits and thereby, our effectiveness in fulfilling our mandate. It is imperative to have a succession plan established to ensure the CAB continues to function after July 2016, when four members will have completed their respective terms.

Institution Impact on the Community

Community stakeholders

The community stakeholders are satisfied with the operation of CNCC. The facility has been able to provide a safe, secure environment for housing and transporting offenders.

Administration of the Institution

Administrative practices

The administration at CNCC is based on sound business practices. The CAB is briefed on a monthly basis by the Deputy Superintendent of Finance, and also on significant occurrences or items of interest under their areas of responsibility. This allows the CAB to view the actual operational component of this facility. CAB members are permitted to discuss the information provided, which allows us to fully understand how the administration is handled on a daily basis.

Staff shortages

There have been many challenges in managing overtime. This has been a direct result of the understaffing of correctional officers. It appears that other provincial institutions with similar inmate counts have a larger cadre of correctional officers than at CNCC. With this facility having a limited medical unit, there are increased demands for inmate transfers to local hospitals or clinics for treatment. Normally, there is not enough staff to cover off community escorts/security, which forces the facility to use correctional officers on an overtime basis.

Overcrowding in the female units

Overcrowding in the female units has been steadily increasing at the institution over the past several months. There is limited space available when female counts exceed 35. This is raising concerns about safety for the inmates and staff. Segregation cells in the female unit have been used for general population offenders. In some circumstances offenders have been asked to double bunk. One instance when inmate counts rise is with the admission of intermittent offenders on the weekends.

Institution Security Team

CNCC has been a testing ground for various pilot programs. One successful initiative was the formation of the Institution Security Team, which provides outstanding work within the facility, and has provided help to outside agencies as well. The Institutional Security Team was responsible for decreasing the flow of contraband into the facility. Its success is documented through letters of commendation from many groups including, local police, Ontario Provincial Police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The CAB feels that the IST pilot should be adopted as a permanent unit.

Treatment of Inmates

No reports of abusive treatment

During site visits, there were no reports of any abusive treatment of inmates. Staff was observed during the performance of their duties and were seen to be interacting with inmates in a professional manner.

Meals

Meals are delivered to inmates in a timely manner and various menu options are available for inmates needing dietary accommodations.

Educational programming

Educational programming is available to inmates with the option of obtaining an Ontario Secondary School Graduation Diploma.

Mental health issues

There have been many discussions about the number of inmates who suffer from various mental health issues. Staff has been vocal about the need to have additional training on how to deal with inmates with mental health concerns.

The CAB has recognized the need for additional training to deal with inmates affected with mental health issues. More specifically, information on how to communicate effectively with these inmates and how to best de-escalate a situation to reduce the potential for use of force measures is requested. With approximately 30 per cent of inmates incarcerated suffering with some form of mental health issues, it is imperative that staff are oriented on dealing with this sort of offender.

Community Workers Program

Thirty-three inmates have had the opportunity to work in the CNCC’s Community Workers Program (CWP). During the last 12 months this program has provided over 1900 hours of work to the exterior of the facility and also within the community. The CWP has had the opportunity to interact with community stakeholders along with the general public. The inmates are supervised by a dedicated correctional officer overseeing a team of between two to four inmates.

One new project this year was to assist in the setup for the International Plowing Match in Ivy, Ontario. This was a great opportunity to present the good work of the CNCC in our communities. The inmates are pleased for the opportunity to give back to the public. This is an exceptional program that should be recognized.

Consolidated list of recommendations

  1. That an action plan be implemented to fill current vacancies at this institution.
  2. Priority should be given to correctional officers who are routinely tasked with handling mental health offenders.
  3. More communication between the CABs would be recommended on a go forward basis. This would assist on implementing best practices amongst the Board. This could take the form of conference calls or an annual meeting.

Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services letterhead

October 27, 2015

Mr. Malcolm McKinnon

Community Advisory Board Chair

Central North Correctional Centre

Dear Mr. McKinnon:

Thank you for your submission of the Community Advisory Board (CAB) 2014 Annual Report for the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC).

The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ constant focus is on transforming Ontario's correctional system to improve staff and inmate safety, provide effective rehabilitation and reintegration programs, and strengthen inmate mental health supports. Moving forward in these key areas is at the very core of building safer, stronger communities right across our province. We cannot do this without the commitment of individuals such as you and the other dedicated volunteers who make up our Community Advisory Boards. Your local perspective is invaluable to strengthening the links between our correctional facilities and our communities.  

I have reviewed your report and appreciate the thoughtful comments you have made about CNCC. You will be pleased to know, a new Annual Report process has been implemented in conjunction with the development and submission of the 2014 Annual Report, including a standardized template. With a standardized approach to reporting issues, the ministry is able to review and provide responses in a meaningful way.

Deputy Minister Stephen Rhodes will be responding in detail to each of the valuable recommendations you have made. Please accept my sincere thanks for this report, your work with the Superintendent, and your role in the community.

Sincerely,

Yasir Naqvi

Minister


Deputy Minister, Correctional Services letterhead

October 27, 2015

Mr. Malcolm McKinnon

Community Advisory Board Chair

Central North Correctional Centre

Dear Mr. McKinnon:

Thank you for your submission of the Community Advisory Board (CAB) 2013 and 2014 Annual Reports for the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC). The Annual Reports have been reviewed by ministry staff and several recommended actions have been taken.

As the Honourable Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, noted in his letter to you, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ constant focus is on transforming Ontario's correctional system to improve staff and inmate safety, effective rehabilitation and reintegration programs, and strengthening of inmate mental health supports. Moving forward in these key areas is at the very core of building safer, stronger communities right across our province.

I am pleased to provide the following responses and recommended actions to the recommendations put forward in the 2014 CAB Annual Report:

  1. Staff Levels: The CAB is concerned about the approved staffing levels at CNCC.

The ministry has been actively recruiting correctional officers since March 2013. As a result, a total of 480 recruits have graduated from the Correctional Officer Training and Assessment (COTA) program at the Ontario Correctional Services College (OCSC) and 19 have been assigned to CNCC.

Recruitment is ongoing and we continue to hire and train new staff through the OCSC.

  1. Mental Health Training: The CAB recognizes the need for additional training to deal with inmates affected with mental health issues.

While CNCC has been supporting education for its staff with the help of the institution psychiatrist, health care team and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), the ministry has developed training in conjunction with the subject matter experts to assist staff in understanding and responding to inmates with mental health challenges. This training will be provided to all frontline correctional staff and managers.

CNCC currently has a system of triage where inmates with suspected mental health issues are referred to the appropriate clinician for treatment. They have a wing of 16 beds that is used to house offenders with special needs in a supportive environment that is non-punitive. We have introduced a new mental health screening and assessment process for all inmates upon admission, effective late September 2015. The new screening will ensure that inmates with mental health issues are identified as early as possible and referred to the appropriate professional(s) and services. Social workers, mental health nurses, and psychologists received training on the new process on June 24 and 25, 2015. 

  1. The Institution Security Team (IST): The CAB feels that this program should be re-established at CNCC as a permanent unit.

The safety and security of both staff and inmates is a top priority. The ministry has a number of mechanisms, policies and procedures in place to detect and eliminate the introduction of contraband into provincial institutions, including:

  • Random searches;
  • The Body Orifice Security Scanner (B.O.S.S.) chair;
  • Canine units;
  • CCTV cameras;
  • Dedicated security teams;
  • Field Intelligence Officers;
  • Walk-through metal detectors;
  • Hand-held security wands; and
  • X-ray machines.
  1. CAB Recruitment and Appointment Process: The CAB has a concern about the length of time it takes for the processing of new board members.

The ministry recognizes the importance and benefit of local community engagement. The CAB plays an important role providing the Minister and ministry with their observations and recommendations. The ministry is currently in the process of expanding CABs into other correctional facilities. A total of seven institutions will have a CAB established by the end of 2015.

It is our goal to appoint new CAB members and fill CAB vacancies in a timely manner.

There is currently one vacancy at CNCC. The opportunity was posted on the Public Appointments website on June 3 and closed on June 17. As no applications were received, the opportunity was extended to July 2. As again no applications were received, an advertisement was posted in the local news media. The appointment recruitment process is ongoing.

  1. CAB Communication: More communication between the CABs is recommended on a go forward basis.

Contact and interaction between CAB members and CAB Chairs is strongly encouraged. This will assist CABs in implementing best practices between the boards, as well as the sharing of information and providing support to new CAB Chairs and newly established CABs.

When the Minister met with the CAB Chairs on April 20, 2015, a number of issues were discussed including communication and interaction between CABs. Quarterly teleconferences for the CAB chairs have been implemented and a first annual meeting of all CAB members is scheduled in Ottawa on October 28, 2015.

  1. Annual Report Feedback: It is imperative that MCSCS improve communication with the CABs. Since 2005 there have been no responses from the ministry to the CAB/BOM on their recommendations and observations at CNCC.

The Annual Report is important and beneficial in providing the ministry with observations and recommendations on the operation and administration of the institution, the impact of the institution on the local community, and the treatment of inmates.

A new Annual Report process has been implemented in conjunction with the development and submission of the 2014 Annual Reports, including a standardized template. With a standardized approach to reporting issues, the ministry is able to review and provide responses. The new Annual Report process also has clearly established timelines and response protocols.

Additional feedback and updates will also be provided by the Advisor, Professional and Shared Services (PSS) through the quarterly CAB Chair teleconferences.

I appreciate the CAB indicating in its Annual Report the CNCC success stories, such as the Community Worker Program and its impact on the surrounding communities. I am also pleased to see the positive impact CNCC has on the local communities as an employer. The ministry is pleased to be named one of the top 100 employers in the Simcoe County area.

Thank you for the work that you do and the role you play as volunteer members of the Community Advisory Board. Please be assured that the ministry values your input and recommendations. Your commitment and dedication is admirable and your positive working relationship with management and staff at the CNCC is commendable. I am looking forward to your ongoing support as we further this very important work.

Sincerely,

Stephen Rhodes

Deputy Minister of Correctional Services