There will be more guards but no fence at a Winnipeg-area mental health facility where beheader Vince Li has been granted escorted walks.
Li is being held at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre after being found not criminally responsible for stabbing and beheading Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus exactly two years ago, on July 30, 2008.
The Manitoba NDP government stated in a news release issued Friday that two more full-time security officers have been hired and will be dedicated to escorting "forensic" patients.
All security staff members at SMHC are equipped with handcuffs and radios and designated special constables with special police tactical training from Manitoba Sheriff Services, according to the release.
About $400,000 has recently been spent on security upgrades, which include more video surveillance and access controls throughout the property.
A clinical staff member will also be present for the walks, which will only take place when staff levels are at their highest and will not occur until all risks have been assessed and security measures are in place.
Shortly after the press release was issued, Manitoba Minister of Health Theresa Oswald apologized to McLean's family.
"If the timing of this information has caused one ounce additional pain to the McLean family, I certainly want to offer my profound regret for that," she said.
The Criminal Code Review Board, which examines Li's care every year, decided this spring that he should be allowed walks with two staff members on the unfenced grounds.
Soon after that decision was made, the Opposition party Progressive Conservatives called on the government to transfer Li to a fenced-in facility outside the province.
Attorney General Andrew Swan rejected that idea because decisions about Li's custody and similar cases are made by the review board — an independent body that operates under federal guidelines — not the province.
2 months before Li gets walks
The government news release, which does not name Li specifically, stated it will take about two months to get all the security arrangements implemented.
Other recent enhancements include external and internal security reviews that led to policy and procedure changes, including increasing the detail and frequency of searches of rooms and people in the forensic area, the news release noted.
The measures were designed to ensure public safety and take into consideration the needs of the general population at SMHC who are there solely for health care, the release stated.
The SMHC provides long-term mental health and acquired brain injury in-patient treatment and rehabilitation services to residents of Manitoba whose treatment and rehabilitation needs cannot be met by other services in the province.
The security plan has been shared with the RCMP and they will be told when the walks begin.