……FROM BEHIND THE WALLS
The Correctional Service of Canada
Study this name. What does it tell us about its purpose? This name suggests the government of Canada operates a “service” for the benefit of society that attempts to “correct” and “rehabilitate” the behaviour of incarcerated offenders, the men and women who violate the law. Some would claim it’s an obligation our government has to its citizens.
With that, one might argue that CSC has a responsibility to society to release people from prison who are, for one, healthier than when they were initially incarcerated. The truth though is that Correctional Service of Canada washes its hands of paroled inmates’ health care, even with a residency requirement in a half-way house.
I know this to be because I’ve been released on parole on more than one occasion, as have many inmates.
I will never forget when I was released from a prison in Quebec while in the middle of treatment for Hep C. This was way back when the regimen consisted of a combination of injections along with oral medications (Ribavirin and Interferon). I was to reside at a Montreal area half-way house, formally called a C.C.C., a Community Correctional Centre. I believe it was the Ogilvy House in Parc-Extension. Before leaving the prison, I asked about continuing the treatment in the community and was given assurances that it was “all taken care of.” I was handed a parcel of documents and appointment slips for a clinic in Montreal, l’Actuel.
However, when I reached the half-way house and went to what I had thought was an arranged appointment at l’Actuel to resume that treatment, I found there was in fact no appointment listed, and that they had no idea who I was. But, if I wanted a consultation with an infectious disease specialist, they would be happy to oblige, provided I paid the $62.00 consultation fee.
I was fresh out of prison and the only income I had was the $98.00 weekly food & transportation allowance provided by the half-way house, I couldn’t possibly afford such an expenditure. In my frustration and disappointment, I returned to the half-way house to ask my then Parole Officer to simply explain why, after showing the clinic all the paperwork given to me by the prison, I was having so much difficulty in obtaining adequate health services in the community? Why would the prison health department go through the motions of providing me with all this meaningless paperwork if in fact they had no intention of helping me once I was released. Basically, she told me that providing me with adequate health care services was not her problem.
It seemed incredibly ridiculous to me that as a ward of CSC, residing in one of their community facilities, and receiving a food allowance from them, that I would actually have received a better quality of health services if I had remained in prison.
This exchange with my Parole Officer was recorded as a “negative interaction”, and later listed as one of the deciding factors…a deteriorating attitude and arrogance…when the ‘house’ sent me back to prison. Was I wrong to assume that being a ward of CSC should afford me at least the same level of service in the community as I could expect to receive if I were still incarcerated?
EDITOR’S NOTE: Staffers at CSC half-way houses do not help ex-offenders reintegrate. They’re in place to find reasons to suspend a parole and send their charges back to prison, where they await a review by the Parole Board. Brennan Guigue had found a job on the production line of a company in the Montreal suburbs that manufactured heavy duty shelving for industrial use. He took the subway and two buses to get to and from his afternoon shift. He lost the job when his parole was lifted.
As it turned out, I was returned to the community and to that same half-way house after about 98 days in Donaconna Institution because once I was before the Parole Board for my hearing, it could not find a reason NOT to revoke my suspension.
This is a true accounting of this incident. It really happened as described and without any exaggeration.
My experience is not unique with just this one occasion. No matter how small the reason, it serves to demonstrate CSC’s mentality as it skirts its responsibilities whenever an opportunity presents itself.
I’ve been rambling on and on for hours. It has been very therapeutic. I no longer feel like smashing my head against the nearest wall.
Brennan Guigue, April 19. 2022