Public Sector Integrity Commissioner finds wrongdoing at the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge, a Correctional Service Canada penal institute

Ottawa, February 4, 2016 – Today, as a result of a disclosure made by whistleblowers, Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, Joe Friday, tabled in Parliament a case report on founded wrongdoing. This report found that the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge, a penal institution under the authority of Correctional Service Canada, repeatedly allowed employees to bring children to the institution creating a substantial and specific danger to their safety and constituting gross mismanagement under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.

The investigation found that approximately a third of employees brought children to the penal institution at least 73 times since 2011, though no policy or guideline permitted such a practice. This wrongdoing is about a practice undertaken by employees of a federal penal institution – the wrongdoing was not linked to the actions of inmates.

Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge is a multi-level security institution housing female inmates taken from the general inmate population and provides an open, residential style environment. Of the 39 inmates at the OOHL, 11 were sentenced or had been previously sentenced for crimes involving children, and some inmates had specific conditions imposed on them to not be near children.

“The open environment of the OOHL coupled with the inherent dangers present as in any penal institution, drastically increases the risk of an incident involving children,” stated Commissioner Friday. “Therefore, the practice of employees bringing children to work created a specific and substantial danger to their safety. These children are clearly not Correctional Service Canada employees and therefore there is no reason for their presence and no justification for the recurring practice of bringing them to the OOHL.”

Correctional Service Canada collaborated fully throughout the investigation and took immediate measures to address this potentially dangerous situation upon learning of the nature of the allegations.

“CSC has accepted my recommendations and is taking corrective action so that practices are aligned with applicable national policies to ensure the safety of all persons in the institution,” added Commissioner Friday.

 

Please consult the case report for further details.

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For more information, contact:

Edith Lachapelle
Manager, Communications
Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
Telephone: 613-946-2138, BB: 613-294-1678
Email: Lachapelle.Edith@psic-ispc.gc.ca

2016-02-04