The grieving father of a man who died in a Cape Breton jail cell is questioning why his son wasn't taken to hospital for a medical check when admitted to the facility despite a background of serious drug addiction.

Ernest LeBlanc, 65, of Sydney Mines, says his son Ernest Jason Marcel LeBlanc, died in the Cape Breton Correctional Centre cell early Sunday morning after being admitted on Saturday evening.

"If my son had been taken to the hospital with his history of drug addiction ... he might have lived today," said the father in a telephone interview on Monday.

He says that Jason — who was in his early 40s — had been in and out of drug rehabilitation programs and had been at a halfway house on day parole after pleading guilty to possession for the purpose of drug trafficking.

'He came from a good family'

The retired construction worker said his son had worked in the western oil industry, commuting back and forth across the country, and had tried unsuccessfully to treat his addiction.

"He came from a good family. It's a disease like cancer eating at you and you're treated like you're not human," said the father.

He said Jason was sentenced to 18 months in jail last year and was on day parole as of Jan. 14.

The father said his son was at the family home on Friday, went to visit some friends that evening, and was unable to get back to the residential centre by curfew due to a winter storm.

Ernest LeBlanc said Jason returned to the halfway house the next day, but was arrested for allegedly violating his parole conditions.

Looking for answers

He said correctional officials told him his son was asked if he'd taken drugs but wasn't taken to hospital for a medical check upon arriving at the facility on Saturday evening.

The father said that he hasn't received the results of an autopsy yet, but he believes a hospital visit was called for given his son's history of drug addiction.

He also said he was told by corrections officials that his son's cell was checked at 2 a.m., about 30 minutes before another check where guards discovered he was no longer breathing.   

LeBlanc said he would like to know more about how thorough the check of his son's condition was at 2 a.m.

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department declined to confirm LeBlanc's identity or comment on his treatment.

Chrissy Matheson said the department is completing an internal inquiry.