Ontario Ombudsman – Ontario must crack “code of silence” among correctional officers involved in use of excessive force


Ontario Ombudsman – Ontario must crack “code of silence” among correctional officers involved in use of excessive force.

Ontario’s Ombudsman André Marin made his report on the conduct of Ontario’s correctional officers public today, in which he criticizes the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services for permitting, ‘behaviors that have led to the ripe conditions… for bad behaviors to be entrenched”. Foremost in this report was the, ‘code of silence’, that exists within Ontario’s correctional facilities.

Excerpt for the report’s Fact’s and highlights:

Ministry statistics

Provincially-run adult correctional institutions in Ontario: 29
Length of sentences served by provincial inmates: 60-729 days
Total capacity: 8.857 inmates, plus 489 on intermittent (weekend) sentences
Correctional officers: 3,560 (3,265 on active duty)
Inmates admitted in 2011-2012: 71,329
Average daily inmate count that year: 8,802
Inmates flagged that year for: Mental health issues – 14,000 (approx.); gang affiliations – 2,860
Inmate-on-inmate assaults reported 2011-2012: 3,035
Correctional staff trained under new program for dealing with inmates with special needs and mental health issues: 134 (about 3% of frontline staff)
Cases reviewed as result of Ombudsman inquiries, 2010-2011: 2,800
Total reported incidents of use of force, August 2011-April 2012: 766
Allegations of excessive use of force investigated 2010-2013: 55
Findings of excessive use of force in those cases: 26
Staff disciplined as a result: 108
Staff dismissed as part of discipline: 31 (including 5 managers)
Dismissed staff charged criminally: 4  Charged staff convicted to date: 1
Complaints to Ministry by staff of threats from colleagues since 2010: 4
Reports by correction officers to WSIB of assault by inmates, 2011-2012: 191

Institutions mentioned in the Ombudsman’s report
Brockville Jail
Central East Correctional Centre
Central North Correction Centre
Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre
Maplehurst Correction Complex
Niagara Detention Centre
North Bay Jail
Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre
Sarnia Jail
Toronto Jail
Toronto East Detention Centre
Toronto West Denetion Centre
Vanier Centre for Women

Injured Workers’ Day

…from Correen DiFlorio, Administrative Assistant, Injured Workers’ Consultants:

Injured Workers' Day

30th Anniversary of Injured Workers’ Day!

Saturday June 1st at 11:00 am

Queen’s Park – Ontario Legislature

The Vigil:  Injured Workers are not sleeping at night!

How can our elected representatives sleep?

 While many of us already know that this year marks the milestone 30th anniversary of Injured Workers’ Day, it’s perhaps less widely known that Injured Workers’ Day doesn’t begin and end with June 1st. For the past 7 years, the Women of Inspiration Injured Workers’ Group has organized an overnight vigil beginning at 4:00pm on May 31st at Queen’s Park (front of Queen’s Park under the big tree to the left of the front steps) as a way of kicking off the commemoration. It’s a great way for injured workers and their supporters to come together communally and get to know one another as we build our movement for justice. Below is an interview with Constanza Durán, who, with the Women of Inspiration, has helped organized the vigil since its inception.  Constanza is an injured worker advocate at Injured Workers’ Consultants Legal Clinic.

How and why did the vigil begin?  When did it first happen?

The Women of Inspiration group was created in 2004.  The first vigil was created in 2006 by the Women who all agreed at one of our meetings that they could not sleep at night because of the physical pain they experienced as well as all the worries they had.  Those worries were about their families, their children, their financial situation and their future and the future of their children.  The women felt if they were sleepless, if they were in pain, alone and feeling isolated in their homes at night, why not do this in public: show the government and the public that they are sleepless at night.  This is a call for awareness of their injuries and the problems workplace injuries can cause!  This is a call to ask for justice for injured workers!

 What is being planned for this year?  What time should people come down?

The Women are calling the vigil for 4pm on May 31.  Men, women, children, families, everybody come at anytime from 4pm on.  If it is raining, bring umbrellas, a tarp or whatever you need for protection from the rain.  If people plan to stay all night, bring a sleeping bag, or a warm blanket, a picnic or lawn chair, a flashlight, and if available a thermos with hot tea or coffee and some munchies for the night.  People don’t have to stay all night.  What is important is to be there for even just one hour to show support.

Who is invited? 

Everyone is invited! Whether you’re an injured worker, an ally of injured workers, a member of the Women of Inspiration, friends and families or just generally a supporter of social justice, all are welcome to join the vigil.

 What if someone cannot stay the whole night?

No problem, there’s no need to stay the whole night. There will be a group of us staying overnight, but many people just come join us for an hour or two. It always lifts our spirits to see new people show up at any point during the evening, so feel free to come for however long you can spare.

 What can people expect when they come down?

To provide/receive support and solidarity as well as to encounter a community of people suffering from workplace injuries and who have run into problems with the WSIB.   The McGuinty government appointed Mr. I. David Marshall as President of the WSIB three years ago with the purpose of reducing WSIB’s expenses.  Rather then raising employers’ rates he has been reducing and squeezing injured workers out of benefits.

What support has the vigil gotten so far?

So far we’ve received generous support from OPSEU Local 525, as well as the OPSEU Region 5 Women’s Committee. We’ve also always gotten great support from injured workers’ groups from across the GTA and around the province.  Last year we got support from UFCW; they provided us with amazing food done with a lot of love!  We expect more unions to help us this year.

 If someone wants to support it, financially or otherwise, who should they contact?

We’re always more than happy to accept any form of support! Whether it’s in the form of financial support, or food and materials to help keep us comfortable overnight, or just your moral support, you can contact us care of Injured Workers’ Consultants at 416-461-2411.

Injured Workers' Day Please also click here for a more detailed history of Injured Workers’ Day.

Injured Workers’ Day

…from Aidan Macdonald, Community Legal Worker with the Injured Workers’ Consultants Community Legal Clinic:

Injured Workers' Day

30th Anniversary of Injured Workers’ Day!

Saturday June 1st at 11:00 am

Queen’s Park – Ontario Legislature

 Celebrate and call for justice for injured workers!

 Since 1983, injured workers and their allies have come together on June 1st to celebrate their achievements, and to invigorate the struggle for justice for injured workers. This year, we ask you to join us at Queen’s Park on Saturday June 1st to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Injured Workers’ Day, as we unite in our efforts to bring about a just compensation system that truly protects the rights of injured workers.

 The past year has seen the implementation of some of the most draconian changes to the workers’ compensation system since it was first established in 1915. As part of the broad trend of austerity and cutbacks to social programs, injured workers are facing significant cuts and denials to their benefits, and a rigid and inaccessible appeals system that undermines administrative justice.  Thus, instead of receiving financial security and support, injured workers are doomed to poverty.

 But in spite of these injustices, injured workers remain firm in their commitment to ensuring fair treatment for all current and future injured workers.  The struggle for a fair compensation system is a struggle that involves all workers in Ontario, and we will not allow the system to be dismantled before our eyes.

 Join us on June 1st as we celebrate the history and accomplishments of the injured workers’ movement, and send a clear message that we demand justice for injured workers and for all workers. 

Injured Workers' Day Please also click here for a more detailed history of Injured Workers’ Day.