CAB Report 2014 - Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre

Community Advisory Board Annual Report


Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre

London, Ontario

March 16, 2015


Overview

Having just completed our first year as a Community Advisory Board (CAB) and dealing with a change in Superintendents, we encountered a significant learning curve for our members. While still learning, the CAB will be in a better position to offer on-site concerns to managerial staff in the future. The CAB has been provided specific information when requested through the Superintendent, who has also been proactive in providing information he anticipates we will find helpful.

The CAB has been very pleased with the current Superintendent. It is clear that he understands the issues and concerns around the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC) and is motivated to do what is necessary to alter the negative trajectory of the institution. He requires as much support from the ministry as can be provided.

EMDC CAB members

Chair: Ian Peer, appointed Dec. 16, 2013, term Dec. 15, 2016

Board Members:

Rebecca Howse, appointed Dec. 16, 2013, term Dec. 15, 2015
Deborah Turnbull, appointed Dec. 16, 2013, term Dec. 15, 2015
Janet McEwen, appointed Dec. 16, 2013, term Dec. 15, 2016
Betty Anne Stoney-Shanker, appointed Dec. 16, 2013, term Dec. 15, 2015
John Innes, appointed Dec. 16, 2013, term Dec. 15, 2016

Meetings

The EMDC CAB met nine times in the boardroom of the institution and once off site. Eight monthly reports were presented to us. Members visited the institution nine other times over the last year. Each visit has generally involved more than one member. The staff and inmates have been mostly open and willing to engage in conversation.

Reports and concerns that required action

There were no reports or concerns that required immediate action.

Presentations

The CAB received four presentations on the following:

  • Overview of EMDC Volunteer and Programming initiatives, security measures
  • CAB members attended Direct Supervision symposia at the Toronto South Detention Centre and the South West Detention Centre in Windsor
  • Native Liaison Manager
  • Ontario Public Service Employee Union (OPSEU) Local 108 President

Observations

The CAB recognizes the list of concerns is substantial. Given the challenges faced at the EMDC, we believe the concerns, if addressed, can move the institution in the right direction. Many concerns can be met through appropriate mandatory training, while others will require a collaborative approach utilizing existing community agencies. Some, such as training, will require resources. Others, such as an appropriate communications strategy or a greater appreciation of volunteers mostly require a shift in thinking. There seems to be considerable agreement between staff and inmates on what changes need to be made to address ongoing issues at EMDC.

The Operation of the Institution

Management/Superintendent turnover

Management and Superintendent turnover has resulted in a lack of direction, outdated standing orders, training deficiencies, inconsistent leadership and lower workplace morale. While it may be appropriate to move people in and out of management positions, there is no effective method of communicating the intent and purpose of these changes, which has contributed to a feeling of the institution not being significant to the ministry.

It was reported that staff who were promoted from within may not be willing to hold their previous peers accountable to standing orders. This lack of consistency has led to complacency towards standing orders/policies by other correctional officers, which contributes to an unstable work environment.

Lack of programming

The actual time permitted for current programming has eroded over time. There were reports that programming staff may be denied access to inmates to provide individual support, and that the Ministry limits programs offered by staff to those sanctioned by the Ministry, many of which appear to be outdated. It is also not uncommon for barriers, such as a lack of staff to move inmates, to emerge during scheduled program times. Inmates expressed frustration over this, as a significant amount of their time is spent locked down, often to accommodate staffing levels.

Inmates no longer use the large gymnasium as a result of reductions in staff that provided the program. The gym program was so well received, and was a great opportunity for inmates to “blow off steam” and return to their areas where they were more apt to be compliant with directions.

Volunteers

EMDC has a number of programs staffed by volunteers who have a strong interest in offering their skills and expertise to help the inmates. Some staff view volunteers as “do gooders” and do not appreciate their work. Part of the volunteer orientation includes a warning that volunteers may experience a poor reception from staff, along with suggestions on how to handle it. Some volunteer programs were discontinued due to a lack of participants. This is not due to a lack of inmate interest, but rather issues that would lead to inmates not being taken to their respective areas for programming.

Public access

The CAB is concerned about the one-way glass at the front door of the facility. This allows correctional officers to see out, but arriving visitors cannot see in. The CAB was advised that there is no longer a legitimate reason for this one-way glass, which sometimes seems to be used to shield less than professional interaction. The CAB is optimistic that this glass can be replaced.

Technology

Staffing issues have led to examples where there has been no or limited access to the video suite connected to the criminal court. The location of the video suite requires significant movement of inmates. Exploring the enhanced use of technology can assist in overcoming some staffing concerns and reduce the staff required for video court appearances.

Institutional lockdowns, which are often a result of staffing issues, also interrupt both relationship visits and legal counsel visits. Staffing levels that do not permit the movement of inmates for such visits could be overcome with new technology such as video visits that are now being utilized in some institutions.

Selective competence

The CAB has been advised of the Offender Tracking Information System (OTIS), for capturing important information on inmates. We have also heard that; “no one can be expected to log into a computer.” We have learned of “incomplete paper work” that actually refers to a paper document rather than utilizing OTIS. Intranet email is not being used to understand operational issues. There seem to be measures of selective competence being utilized by some and no effective method to address this inconsistency.

Work refusals

There has been a significant number of ‘work refusals’ that disrupt the institution and the broader criminal justice system that, when investigated by the Ministry of Labour, have been found to be without merit.

Institution Impact on the Community

Media coverage

There has been relentlessly negative media coverage of the EMDC. While the coverage is not constant, it has reached a point where every report, regardless of the media type, refers to the institution as “troubled”, “violent” or “dysfunctional”. In the community at large, this type of media coverage has been very effective at embedding a negative reaction. It would be fair to categorize communications with the community to date as an abysmal failure. This has subsequently widened the disconnect that already exists between the institution and the community, and contributes to a negative work environment for all staff.

The negative media attention is very problematic for EMDC staff. Crisis communications is routine in other organizations such as the police. Crisis communications, along with the utilization of current technology are two areas where a more effective strategy at minimal cost could result in a much more positive connection with the community.

Regional Intermittent Centre

The Regional Intermittent Centre (RIC) is under construction, which should be met with a positive reaction by all, including the community at large. The RIC is designed to address safety and security issues of EMDC inmates and staff. This is a great opportunity to provide some positive information to the community. The Superintendent has reported that there will be media coverage of the planned opening, and the CAB looks forward to appropriate media messages being conveyed.

Court delays

The majority of inmates at EMDC are on remand and awaiting court dates rather than serving sentences. It has been a common complaint in London courts, however, that inmates do not arrive from the institution in a timely manner. This has often been determined to be the result of issues facing the admitting and discharge unit. The physical layout of this area has not changed even though the institution has substantially increased capacity. Any action at the institution that delays police or the courts most often results in fewer inmates being discharged, and backs up the entire criminal justice system.

The frequency of lockdowns has also contributed to delays in the broader justice system. When lawyers are unable to access their clients for instruction at the EMDC as a result of lockdowns, the next available opportunity is at the courthouse. Combined with the late arrival to the courthouse, this can result in appearances being “put over” to the following day because of time constraints. The work it takes to have an inmate appear in court is therefore doubled for all involved, including EMDC staff.

Administration of the Institution

Management communications

The Superintendent has demonstrated his ability to use effective communication and he needs to be supported in the training of his entire management team. Managers need to understand the importance of verbal, written and electronic communications as a way to keep all employees current. Crisis communication skills need to be developed in all management positions to assist combating the mounting negative media that employees hear from outside the institution.

Treatment of Inmates

Indirect supervision

Observation of inmates is primarily by correctional officers observing a video screen from time to time. There appears to be minimal interaction between inmates and officers. Most officers appear to rely on cameras to supervise the inmates. This does not allow observation in washrooms, which is acknowledged to be the most vulnerable area for an inmate.

There is a split between officers who want and support programming and believe in the importance of establishing relationships with inmates, as well as the merits of direct supervision, and those who express concern for their safety and scepticism of a direct supervision model. Direct supervision units have staff positioned inside the living unit with the inmates. Management and staff confirm this divide and blame the other for the current state of affairs at EMDC.

Lockdowns

Lockdowns, either institution-wide or applied to specific areas only, are often used to accommodate staff. Inmates who have spent any time in the institution state that they can predict when a lockdown will occur as a result of staffing shortages. A ‘big game’ on television, good weather or bad may result in staff not reporting for duty and subsequent lockdowns occurring. Inmates spoke of extreme boredom while being locked down in their cells, and expressed concern that they are not allowed any phone calls or visits during lockdown.

The treatment of inmates varies depending on staff. Some correctional officers have a genuine desire to engage, while others view jail as a place where inmates are to be controlled and punished. Male and female inmates reported that some correctional officers would make derogatory comments and treat inmates as if the officers’ role were to enhance inmate punishment. Others treated inmates appropriately, providing necessities as requested and talking to them from time to time. Treating inmates appropriately is very important during the many times all or parts of the institution are locked down.

Access to health care

Inmates spoke about the extreme difficulty they experience in trying to be seen by a doctor or psychiatrist. They write out their requests and hand them to correctional officers to give to the nurse without any idea if these requests are passed on. It has also been reported that in some instances, inmates do not receive their medication if a correctional officer believes they are ‘passing’ or ‘hoarding’ medications.

Segregation

The segregation cells at the EMDC have been called “the most valuable piece of real estate in the institution,” by staff. Clearly there are times when it is necessary to segregate inmates. The CAB has learned that inmates who fail to be segregated when they ask for it will simply say “I’m suicidal”, leaving correctional officers with no choice but to place them in segregation. The CAB is also aware of inmates in segregation for significant lengths of time because of mental illness.

The CAB heard at a direct supervision symposium that the number of inmates requiring segregation is greatly reduced using that model.

Cultural sensitivity

While it is clear that many cultures make up the inmate population, the disproportion of First Nations people incarcerated has been well-documented by researchers. The EMDC provides some programming to support the First Nations inmate population but, given the barriers to programming already revealed in this report, this initiative should be more aggressively monitored to ensure that it is fully delivered.

All staff should receive general in-service cultural sensitivity training. Staff should also be instructed on the First Nations’ worldview of traditional knowledge, wisdom and practices. The discussion of an on-site sweat lodge to cleanse the whole mind, body and spirit through a sweat bath, has been raised with the Superintendent and there is an opportunity to have such a lodge near the new Regional Intermittent Centre. The CAB would like to see this go forward.

Aside from a sweat lodge, community Elders should come and talk to Aboriginal inmates on a regular basis. As already reported, providing an environment that values the use of volunteers and provides them with effective opportunities to impact positively an inmates’ trajectory would invite this intervention by community members.

Strong First Nations’ identity is developed by empowering people to reclaim cultural values through teachings from Elders. They should be allowed to do so within an environment that supports self-determining change.

Consolidated list of recommendations

  1. Stabilization of the Senior Management Team, particularly the Office of the Superintendent, is required along with an effective communication strategy when movement is necessary.
  2. Return to a physical activity program utilizing the gymnasium.
  3. Develop programs and track outcomes focusing on local expertise and volunteers to enhance community engagement and provide preparation for inmates return to the community.
  4. Continue to acknowledge EMDC volunteers and develop staff training sessions that reinforce the important contribution of volunteers and the need to utilize them in the institution.
  5. Allow the EMDC, with the cooperation of the Criminal Courts in the jurisdiction it services, to explore the use of current open source technology to enhance the ability for inmates to appear in court via video feed.
  6. Ensure the appropriate policies, procedures and standing orders are in place that will allow effective communications to all staff through the use of relevant current technology.
  7. Develop an effective communications strategy to provide factual, timely information to the media which will enhance the position of the institution in the community, raise institutional morale and provide a level of confidence to the judiciary. The strategy must be local.
  8. Develop policies, procedures, standing orders and operational practices that demonstrate to the community the position of the EMDC as an integral part of the criminal justice system.
  9. Provide senior management team with communications training that can be used within the institution to support the Superintendent’s efforts to anticipate issues, inform staff and move the institution forward.
  10. Transition the EMDC as soon as possible to a direct supervision model and provide the necessary staff training, operational directives and standing orders to ensure that correctional staff approaches their work in a manner that aligns with contemporary practices.
  11. Implement operational practices that eliminate lockdown conditions that are a result of staffing issues.
  12. Recognizing that individuals who are incarcerated are often in need of healthcare, both mental and physical, approach this time as an opportunity to meet these needs with quality healthcare.
  13. Undertake a study of the segregation practices at the EMDC over the past five years. Develop operational practices that reduce the use of segregation cells for mentally ill inmates.
  14. Provide mandatory cultural sensitivity training to all staff that includes a significant emphasis on First Nations. Provide the necessary resources to the Superintendent of EMDC to provide a sweat lodge and adjunct programming without staffing barriers.

Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services letterhead

October 27, 2015

Mr. Ian Peer

Community Advisory Board Chair

Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre

Dear Mr. Peer:

Thank you for your submission of the Community Advisory Board (CAB) 2014 Annual Report for the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC).

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 EMDC. You will be pleased to know, that the Ministry’s review of Segregation in Ontario is underway. The review will include consultation with staff and various stakeholders such as mental health experts, the Ombudsman’s Office and the Ontario Human Rights Commission. It will also examine the best practices of other jurisdictions. The final report will be submitted with findings/recommendations for the ministry’s action in December 2015.

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, Community Safety and Correctional services letterhead

October 27, 2015

Mr. Ian Peer

Community Advisory Board Chair

Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre

Dear Mr. Peer:

Thank you for your submission of the Community Advisory Board (CAB) 2014 Annual Report for the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC). The Annual Report has 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 EMDC CAB Annual Report:

  1. Stabilization of the senior management team, particularly the Superintendent, is required along with an effective communication strategy when movement is necessary.

Two permanent Deputy Superintendents have been confirmed their positions at EMDC to assist with the stability of the Senior Management team. An experienced Superintendent has recently agreed to take an assignment as the Deputy Superintendent (Administration) to support the Superintendent and Senior Administration team.

Five new Sergeants have been hired to stabilize the front-line management ranks.

  1. Return to a physical activity program utilizing the gymnasium.

The ministry is supportive of physical activity for inmates. EMDC will conduct a feasibility study in the fall of 2015 to determine the staffing and resource requirements required for expanded physical inmate activities in the inmate yard and gymnasium.

  1. Develop programs and track outcomes focusing on local expertise and volunteers to enhance community engagement and provide preparation for inmate’s return to community.

Volunteers provide a wide variety of programming options to inmates and are an extremely important resource in the delivery of programs in provincial correctional institutions such as EMDC. Volunteers are recruited from the local community and offer a diversity of skills and expertise. The range of programs include: life skills, literacy, recreational, multifaith and spiritual, rehabilitative, social, cultural and educational.

As well, ministry core programming is offered in all provincial institutions. Core programs are rehabilitative programs that target those criminogenic factors most common among offenders (anger management, substance abuse and criminal thinking) and for two offender groups who pose a threat to public safety (sex offenders and domestic violence offenders).

Additional programs may be offered at individual institutions based on operational resources.

The programming department and the Deputy Superintendent (Programs) at EMDC are working with Correctional Officers on the value of inmate programming. The Superintendent is reviewing current inmate access to ministry and volunteer programming.

EMDC also has contracts with a Native Inmate Liaison Officer and the London Abused Women’s Centre. These resources provide expertise in areas that staff are not trained to provide.

  1. Continue to acknowledge EMDC volunteers and develop staff training sessions that reinforce the important contribution of volunteers and the need to utilize them in the institution.

The ministry recognizes the value and significant contribution volunteers make. Volunteers are recognized annually during National Volunteer week. There are ministry programs and initiatives in place for volunteer recognition, including milestone letters which are presented to volunteers for 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 years of service.

The EMDC annual volunteer banquet was held June 24, 2015.

Ongoing education continues to be provided to staff at EMDC, outlining the importance of volunteer programs within the institution.

  1. Allow the EMDC, with the cooperation of the Criminal Courts in the jurisdiction it serves, to explore the use of current open source technology to enhance the ability for inmates to appear in court via video feed.

The ministry has significant processes, policies and procedures in place for the use of video court and other associated technologies. The Superintendent has committed to review the current video court practices at EMDC for efficiencies.

A business case is being prepared for the installation of an additional Video Remand suite on the female unit. Additional locations for Video Remand suites will be explored as part of the direct observation unit retrofit that is currently in the design phase.

A business case with costing analysis is also being developed to install a video visit system similar to that in use at the Toronto South Detention Centre (TSDC) and South West Detention Centre (SWDC).

  1. Ensure the appropriate policies/procedures and standing orders are in place that will allow effective communications to all staff through the use of relevant current technology.

Standing orders have been updated at EMDC and staff have received related training. The standing orders have been reviewed by the Regional Office.

E-mail is used for general internal communications. Staff are expected to review information that is sent to them. Important or high profile issues are also communicated in person at staff musters, through posted memorandums, and Superintendent Directives.

As a result of a CAB review conducted by the Ontario Internal Audit Division in the spring of 2015, the Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) of Institutional Services will be directing the Regional Directors and Superintendents to ensure standing orders include local operational procedures and protocols for CAB by December 31, 2015. A memo on this issue is currently being drafted for release to the field in the fall of 2015.

Moving forward, standing orders will be required to be developed within six months of a new CAB being implemented, to include local operational procedures and protocols for CABs. A CAB guide has been developed and recently approved for the field with extensive information on CAB procedures and processes. This guide will assist the Superintendents in the development of their standing orders.

  1. Develop an effective communications strategy to provide factual, timely information to the media which will enhance the position of the institution in the community, raise institutional morale, and provide a level of confidence to the judiciary. This strategy must be local.

The ministry’s goal when handling media relations enquiries is to provide timely, accurate and fact-based responses that will allow the Ontario public to understand what the government/ministry is doing in relation to the issue being raised. The ministry’s media relations team works closely with all ministry divisions, Deputy Minister’s Office and Minister’s Office to assess the issue that media are calling about and determine how best to respond.

CAB members and Superintendents will have an opportunity to explore some of the communications components related to CABs at the upcoming CAB conference in Ottawa on October 28, 2015.

  1. Develop policies, procedures, standing orders and operational practices that demonstrate to the community the position of the EMDC as an integral part of the criminal justice system.

The Superintendent has advised that EMDC administration meet regularly with justice partners (i.e. police, courts). Information from stakeholders at those meetings is taken into consideration when developing new policies, procedures, and standing orders.

A comprehensive Admissions and Discharge Review has been completed at EMDC. An action plan is being developed to address the recommendations of the review. Justice partners will be included in discussions of any proposed operational efficiencies (i.e. alternate pick-up times, increased court transfer numbers).

  1. Efforts must be made to stabilize the senior management team, particularly the Superintendent position, and provide them with communications training that can be used within the institution in support of the Superintendent’s efforts.

Please refer to responses 1 and 7 above.

  1. Transition the EMDC as soon as possible to a Direct Supervision model and provide the necessary staff training, operational directives and standing orders to ensure that correctional staff approach their work in a manner that aligns with contemporary practices.

Extensive research into the effectiveness of direct supervision has been conducted. The findings have consistently shown that direct supervision is proven to be safer for both staff and inmates. While this model has been implemented in two of our correctional institutions to date, due to the structural design of the facility, EMDC cannot accommodate a true direct supervision model. However, new direct observation stations will be installed to allow for direct observation of inmates. Once ready, the direct observation stations will be piloted on one unit to assess their effectiveness an before expanding to other areas of the institution. Components of direct supervision training will be explored as part of any training required for the direct observation stations. Construction is scheduled to begin in November 2015.

  1. Implement operational practices that eliminate lockdown conditions that are a result of staffing issues.

The safety and security and both staff and inmates is a top priority. Lockdowns do occur to ensure the safety and security of both staff and inmates. Lockdowns occur due to a variety of reasons, including staff shortages, which sometimes result from a combination of vacation leaves, sick leaves and other leaves taking place at the same time.

Every effort is made to maintain the regular schedule of visits, programming and other services and when a lockdown is required, partial or individual unit lock downs are always preferred to a facility lockdown.

In addition, the ministry has been actively recruiting correctional officers since March 2013. As a result, a total of 480 recruits have graduated from Correctional Officer Training and Assessment (COTA) program at the Ontario Correctional Services College (OCSC) and 28 have been assigned to EMDC.

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

  1. Recognizing that individuals who are incarcerated are often in need of health care, both mental and physical, approach this time as an opportunity to meet these needs with quality health care.

All ministry institutions have health care staff and medical services available to provide care to inmates within the facility. Partnerships are also maintained for medical services not provided by the institution, and specialized treatment, in the local community.

A new Health Care Manager was hired at EMDC who has received approval to hire a new Assistant Health Care Manager. EMDC has recruited a Mental Health Nurse, along with five Registered Nurses.

A Health Care Review at EMDC is currently in progress. As part of that review, changes have been made to the way that inmate requests for health care are managed. Correctional Officers now fill out the request for the inmate and then the request is taken by a designated staff to the Health Care Unit. This helps ensure that requests are reviewed in a timely manner. Regular Health Care meetings take place and staffing levels have also been adjusted on certain days to reduce delays for inmates being seen for health-related matters.

The ministry has developed training in conjunction with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) 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.

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. Undertake a study of the segregation practices at the EMDC over the past 5 years. Develop operational practices that reduce the use of segregation cells for mentally ill inmates.

As you know, on March 26, 2015, the Minister announced that the ministry was undertaking a comprehensive review of the segregation policy and its use in correctional facilities, including how it interacts with other ministry mental health policies. The review of the segregation policy will help to ensure it aligns with the ministry’s stated goals of rehabilitation, reintegration, increased mental health supports, and improved staff and inmate safety.

The review is currently underway and will include consultation with staff and various stakeholders such as mental health experts, the Ombudsman Office, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission. It will also examine the best practices of other jurisdictions.

The final report will be submitted with findings/recommendations for the ministry’s action in December 2015.

The Superintendent reports EMDC has a multi-disciplinary team that reviews inmate placement in segregation. The multi-disciplinary team that consists of a Social Worker, Deputy Superintendent of Programs, Mental Health Nurse and Sergeant meets every Tuesday to review inmate placement in segregation. Plans of care and strategies for the
re-integration of segregated inmates into either general population or protective custody are discussed at these meetings.

  1. Provide mandatory cultural sensitivity training that includes a significant emphasis on First Nations to all staff. Provide the necessary resources to the Superintendent of the EMDC to provide a sweat lodge and adjunct programming without staffing barriers.

In 2011, the ministry began a partnership within the Ontario Public Service called the Human Rights Project Charter. This partnership, which includes the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, was designed to identify and address human rights-related issues for our diverse employees and client communities, with a special focus on the unique needs and concerns of Aboriginal peoples.

The Human Rights Project Charter led to the development of a multi-year Human Rights Plan – an action plan that firmly plants human rights and Aboriginal peoples’ perspectives in all aspects of Correctional Services’ workplaces and service delivery (including learning and training, complaints management, and operational and employment policies, practices and procedures). Through the Human Rights Plan, the ministry and its partners will ensure:

  • Human rights are a more prominent part of the day-to-day work;
  • Improved capacity to understand, respond to and address employees’ and inmates’ or clients’ diverse backgrounds, cultures and human rights-related issues;
  • Aboriginal peoples’ contributions and perspectives are present in all areas of Correctional Services; and
  • Increased accountability and shared responsibility at both individual and organizational levels to help make these human rights changes sustainable.

In May 2014, an internal communications strategy was developed and implemented to improve engagement with staff. The strategy is designed to support a more positive, cohesive and inclusive workplace culture and ministry community, including a focus on human rights through the Human Rights Plan (formerly the HRPC).

Phase 1 of the Human Rights Plan was launched in September 2014, and through an agreement with the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, the ministry has extended the partnership for up to three more years.

This extension will sustain the momentum of the ministry’s progress to date and assist with measuring, evaluating and reporting on the Human Rights Plan’s progress.

The Human Rights Plan builds on a lot of other work already underway to make our workplaces and services healthier and more inclusive, such as the transgender policy review and the ongoing support of employee network groups representing Aboriginal, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and racialized employees, as well as a network specifically for women working in Correctional Services.

The ministry has also implemented a Code of Conduct and Professionalism Policy. Under this policy, employees of Correctional Services have a professional responsibility to provide care and to ensure the well-being of those in our custody or serving a sentence in the community, and to maintain a respectful, safe and healthy work environment.

The Superintendent reports EMDC has a Native Inmate Liaison Officer in place to provide guidance and information related to care and programming for Aboriginal inmates. The ministry also has an Aboriginal Services Advisor that EMDC can contact for support with programming initiatives.

EMDC has proposed a Sweat Lodge be constructed on site and will also be performing a tree-planting ceremony in the near future to help recognize and support Aboriginal awareness.

In conjunction with the Ontario Correctional Services College and the Aboriginal Services Program Advisor, EMDC is developing a curriculum for a four-hour training for staff on Aboriginal Awareness.

I appreciate that the CAB indicated in its Annual Report the positive impact the construction of the Regional Intermittent Centre (RIC) may have on the local community, and the opportunity to share this information through the local media.

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 and support of the Superintendent 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