For the times they aren’t a’changin….

Back in 2008/2009, we spent some time looking at CSCS, the Ontario provincial jail system. Good grief, if taxpayers would only pay attention. You can look at the January 24th posting, “Ontario’s Provincial Jails – a Comment”, for an update. What follows is another letter to Yasir Naqvi around health care in particular.

March 10, 2015

The Honourable Yasir Naqvi,
Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services,
18th Floor,
George Drew Building, 25 Grosvenor Street,
Toronto, ON M7A 1Y6

Minister Naqvi:

Over many years, health care in our provincial jails has come to my attention as leaving much to be desired. This may be a generalization, and while I have numerous examples of professionals in the system working as we would expect, there are just too many instances of callous, negligent, and even dangerous responses to the medical needs of inmates.

Why would certified health-care workers not exercise best practices? In one case on file, a nurse in a Toronto facility told an inmate that, “health care is a privilege, not a right.” Frankly, minister, this makes no sense. That is, until a casual conversation on the subject with someone inside your ministry provided a likely explanation.

Whether remuneration and benefits in jail health-care units are competitive with the private sector is debatable, but in any case, money is not necessarily central to the situation as it exists. What is more to the point are the CSCS hiring practices for positions such as registered nurses. I’ve been told that persons holding valid certifications as RNs are considered eligible for available openings, without additional vetting. This has led to some questionable hires.

Minister Naqvi, I don’t expect to hear from you on the subject, but too many people in the community know a problem persists. If nothing else, your conscience demands that the rhetoric on health-care in our jails matches the reality.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

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