Prison health care units……

…..WANT US TO BELIEVE THEY CARE.  They want us to believe they are acting according to the provisions in the Corrections & Conditional Release Act (CCRA).

“Federal prisons…..make’em care” on June 12 included a May 9 letter sent to Port-Cartier Institution’s Health Care Services Chief critical of the lack of mental health care services available to Brennan Guigue specifically and other inmates in general.  An addendum listed six individuals who were copied, along with covering letters for three on the list.

Within days of that letter’s arrival in Port-Cartier, Brennan Guigue was called to the institution’s health care unit to sign a release, allowing Correctional Service of Canada to respond.  Their answer came by letter dated May 24 from CSC National Headquarters in Ottawa.

To avoid any hint of biased editing, the complete response is copied here:-

May 24, 2022

Dear Mr. Klassen,

Thank you for your correspondence of May 9, 2022, addressed to Chief of Health Services at Port-Cartier Institution.  In your letter, you raise concerns about mental health services management and treatment for your adopted son, Brennan Guigue, while incarcerated at Port-Cartier Institution.

I am responding to your correspondence on behalf of the Chief of Health Services at Port-Cartier Institution.

According to documentation in Mr. Guigue’s electronic health care records, he was last assessed by a psychiatrist at Millhaven Institution on October 5, 2020.  The psychiatrist noted that Mr. Guigue was stable and no further psychiatric follow-up was required, however guidance was provided for him on how to access Mental Health Services if needed.

In November 2021, Mr. Guigue was transferred to Port-Cartier Institution.  On arrival, his health care records were reviewed by Health Services.  His diagnoses were noted, his medications were continued accordingly and his mental health needs were assessed as low.  Since then, Mr. Guigue has not voiced any mental health concerns to staff nor has he submitted a request to be assessed by Mental Health Services.  He is assessed by the nursing staff and the institutional physician as needed and his condition is described as stable.

In regards to the concerns you raised for referrals submitted by Parole Officers, correctional staff can submit a mental health referral if necessary.  Commissioner’s Directive 800 entitled Health Services, paragraph 11(a), requires all institutional staff/contractors to inform a health care professional of the condition of any offender who appears to have a physical or mental health care concern, whether or not the offender identifies a health concern.  However, there is no CSC policies stating that only Parole Officers can make such referrals.  The individuals federally incarcerated are provided with the information on how to access Health Services along with the process on how to submit an Inmate’s Request on admission and transfers to CSC institutions.

I would like to assure you that the Correctional Service Canada (CSC) is mandated, under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA), to provide every inmate with essential health care and reasonable access to non-essential health care.  Our comprehensive legal and policy framework outlines what we must do to deliver our essential services and I can assure you that Health Services are always available to Mr. Guigue, and that he is receiving care in accordance to his actual diagnoses and needs.

Thank you for writing.

Sincerely,

Manjeet Sethi, A/Assistant Commissioner Health Services.

To a lay person, this would appear to be a reasonable response to issues raised in the May 9th letter.  To everyone with CSC experience, it’s offensive.

June 24, 2022

Mr. Manjeet Sethi, A/Assistant Commissioner,
Health Services,
Correctional Service of Canada,
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0P9

Re:       Your May 24 letter re Brennan Guigue.

Dear Mr. Sethi:

I feel confident that I first dipped my toe into advocacy and activism before you were born, and certainly before Brennan Guigue in 1970. 

Over time, my focus honed primarily on prisons and the justice system, particularly after Brennan was adopted.  His health care needs were not being met by the practices in place, practices not always compliant with policy.  And so it is too with many others in the system.  This isn’t conjecture.  You have at least the same reports, studies, findings, and recommendations that are in my files.

As for Brennan Guigue, I appreciate you have only what’s been put in front of you to form a response to my May 9th letter.  At a minimum, I’d characterize your material as incomplete.  From your May 24 letter, “I can assure you that Health Services are always available to Mr. Guigue, and that he is receiving care in accordance to his actual diagnoses and needs,” is factually incorrect.  But that is not for me to argue here.

It is notable that our exchange of letters drew only upon Brennan’s concern for his psychological well-being, and CSC’s response to that.  His physiological challenges include a diagnosed but untreated condition that’s potentially lethal, but again, that’s not relevant here.

Mr. Sethi, what is important is you have, as an officer in the national headquarters of Correctional Service of Canada, offered an interpretation of health care policy and its practices, as well as an address to one specific circumstance.

For that I thank you.

Charles H. Klassen

There will be a frank second letter to Mr. Sethi. 

Before that though, what’s next is Brennan Guigue’s experience with the Office of the Correctional Investigator’s examination of this claim.

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