Management at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre has apologized to employees for not properly warning them about a hidden microphone installed in a staff lounge in April.
In a letter to employees, dated June 23rd, acting director of the correctional centre, Jock McDowell, said the listening device was a prototype for a new intercom system, intended to keep the facility safer.
"It was not installed as a means in which to covertly listen to staff conversations. For anyone to covertly listen or intercept private communications would require legal authority to do so," McDowell wrote.
If it's ever deployed, he said, the system would be installed in inmate living areas, but he said the testing had to be done elsewhere.
'[...]somebody just went and opened up the smoke detector to see if it's wired in or whatever, and, lo and behold, there's a microphone in there'- Bob Bymoen, Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union
McDowell said the device was designed to look like a smoke detector so that inmates would be less likely to tamper with it, if it's ever deployed.
But the union that represents correctional workers said staff were not alerted to the installation of the microphone.
Union head Bob Bymoen says employees discovered it by sheer luck.
"They're sitting in the staff room and they got talking about, what's this new smoke detector up there? And so somebody just went and opened up the smoke detector to see if it's wired in or whatever, and, lo and behold, there's a microphone in there," Bymoen said.
Bymoen said this incident has further strained staff-management relations.
McDowell said the microphone was disconnected after a short testing period, but said it should have been taken down at that point.
He said a sign should have been posted to indicate its presence. Correctional Centre management said no recordings were made with the microphone.