Saskatoon

Saskatchewan Penitentiary inmate dies from COVID-19

Inmates and advocates have been raising concerns about the federal government’s handling of COVID-19 at the federal facility in recent weeks. Friday’s death is the first reported at the facility due to the illness.

4 federal inmates have died in Canada since start of pandemic, Correctional Service of Canada says

An inmate at the Saskatchewan Penitentary has died as a result of COVID-19-related complications, marking the first death as a result of the illness at the federal facility. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

An inmate at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert has died as a result of COVID-19-related complications, according to a news release from the Correctional Service of Canada.

The man, who was in his 50s, died on Friday at an outside hospital. His next of kin have been notified of the death, Corrections Canada said in a news release, and the federal agency extended condolences.

"As in all cases involving the death of an inmate, CSC has notified the coroner who will review the circumstances of the death," the agency said.

The death is the first reported at the facility due to COVID-19, but inmates and advocates have raised concerns about the federal government's handling of the illness at the facility in recent weeks.

Lee Anne Skene, the deputy warden at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary, said any loss within the facility and federal corrections service is "heartfelt." 

She said along with offering condolences to the man's family and friends, Corrections Canada also offered condolences to those who lived alongside him at the federal institution.

"Any loss, again, is an extreme tragedy," she said. "So, we have provided critical incident stress management support for our staff and we have had staff from our Indigenous department onsite smudging and praying with the offenders." 

She said while the additional supports have helped, the federal agency understands that grieving is not a quick process.

"It provides support, but things like these, we know, take time so that support will continue to be provided," she said. 

In Saturday's news release, Corrections Canada said it has "dedicated health services and medical professionals" in all of its institutions, and said it also works "closely and collaboratively" with local health agencies to provide complete care and prevent further spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Skene also said extensive cleaning, screening measures and asymptomatic testing of both inmates and staff are taking place.

As of Thursday, 244 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed at the facility, where a total 2,536 tests have been conducted, with 175 cases listed as recovered and 69 considered active. 

Corrections Canada says since the beginning of the global pandemic, a total of four federal inmates with a COVID-19 diagnosis have died.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story indicated that 2,536 inmates were housed at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary. This is incorrect. That figure actually represents the total number of COVID-19 tests conducted at the facility.
    Jan 10, 2021 2:22 PM CT

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