Ottawa

Ottawa jail task force to come up with plan by June 1, ministry says

A newly-created task force has less than two months to come up with an action plan for the issues of overcrowding and health and safety at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.

Task force met for first time on Tuesday

A task force looking into the issues of overcrowding and health and safety at the jail has until June 1 to come up with an action plan for dealing with the issues. (CBC)

A newly-created task force has less than two months to come up with an action plan for the issues of overcrowding and health and safety at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.

Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Yasir Naqvi announced last Tuesday the task force met for the first time that day.

The task force has "a mandate to develop an action plan to address overcrowding and capacity issues in the near term, and identify long-term solutions to improve the health and safety of staff and inmates at OCDC overall," the ministry said in a statement.

An action plan is to be developed by no later than June 1, 2016, including "a transparent process to track the implementation of the recommendations ultimately adopted by the ministry."

Conditions at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre had come under fire in a 2015 community advisory committee report that found the jail often served substandard food, and had both overcrowding of inmates and staff shortages, both of which led to overuse of inmate lockdowns and a reduction in yard time.

There have also been two deaths at the jail in the last month, including one early Tuesday morning in which a man awaiting trial for allegedly sexually assaulting a number of victims took his own life, despite being on suicide watch.

The members of the task force are:

  • Marg Welch, associate deputy minister, Correctional Services – Task Force Chair.
  • Pauline Jones, assistant deputy minister, Institutional Services.
  • Mike Wood, acting superintendent, OCDC.
  • Randy Denis, eastern regional director, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
  • Daryl Pitfield, director, Institutional Operations Branch.
  • Monty Vieselmeyer, Ministry Employee Relations Committee (MERC) union member.
  • Denis Collin, Local/OCDC union president.
  • Todd Hockey, correctional officer, OCDC.
  • Vikki Bair, Crown Attorney, Eastern Region, Ministry of the Attorney General.
  • Meredith Porter, Community Advisory Board chair, OCDC.
  • Dominic Lamb, Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa.
  • Irene Mathias, Mothers Offering Mutual Support - community representative.
  • Bryonie Baxter, executive director, Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa.

now