Ottawa

Woman suffers miscarriage in Ottawa jail cell, her lawyer says

An Ottawa lawyer says staff at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre didn't properly care for one of her clients who had a miscarriage in her cell last week.

OCDC staff didn't take proper care of 28-year-old woman, her lawyer says

This week Ontario's Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services issued a report saying it's making progress improving conditions at the jail, as recommended by a special task force last year.

An Ottawa lawyer says staff at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre didn't properly care for one of her clients who had a miscarriage in her cell last week.

Erica Tanny said her 28-year-old client was arrested on Jan. 11, then taken to hospital for an ultrasound that showed she was 11 to 12 weeks pregnant, and then taken to OCDC on Jan. 13. Tanny does not want to reveal her client's identity.

She said the woman didn't get proper health care at the east Ottawa jail despite regular bleeding, and that on Jan. 25 the woman started bleeding "uncontrollably" in her cell.

It took 10 to 15 minutes for inmates to get the attention of OCDC staff before she was taken to hospital in a prisoner transport van instead of an ambulance, Tanny said, adding that jail policy dictates inmates having medical issues should be transported by ambulance.

Erica Tanny is an Ottawa lawyer who says one of her clients had a miscarriage in her cell at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre last week after more than two weeks of improper medical care. (Andrew Foote/CBC)
Tanny said her client told her she had a miscarriage in her cell.

On Jan. 27 the woman pleaded guilty to one count of being unlawfully at large and two counts of theft that had put her in jail, paid a fine of $1 for each count and a victim surcharge, and is now out of custody.

"I think the judge correctly summed it up when he called it inhumane treatment," Tanny said.

"It's very concerning and I'm certain that [the] OCDC will want to look into this matter further."

Ontario's Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Marie-France Lalonde, said Friday that her department is investigating this "serious allegation," and that she couldn't comment further.

"The safety and the well-being of inmates… across the province is my priority," Lalonde said in an interview.

The jail and province are facing a $1.2-million lawsuit from Julie Bilotta, who gave birth in an OCDC jail cell in 2012 and said her son's death a year later is related to the jail's mishandling of her health.