Justice department making progress on fixing jails: deputy minister

MLAs will continue hearing Wednesday on auditor general’s report on the territory’s jails

Director of corrections Mickey McLeod (left) and Nunavut Justice Department deputy Minister Stephen Mansell answer questions from MLAs Tuesday afternoon at the legislative assembly. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Justice Department is making progress in addressing concerns about the territory’s jails, deputy minister Stephen Mansell said Tuesday.

Territorial leaders met in the legislative assembly for a hearing on a 2021 report from the Auditor General of Canada that said the department hadn’t satisfactorily addressed recommendations auditors made six years ago to improve its corrections division.

The 2021 report included nine new recommendations, and nine still outstanding from the 2015 report.

Addressing the assembly, Mansell listed some of what he said were its successes, including increasing program, medical and inmate space by building the Aaqqigiarvik Correctional Healing Facility, which opened last fall in Iqaluit.

When the old Baffin Correctional Centre is renovated, there will be a kitchen for country food preparation, a laundry area and classroom, he said.

Also, the department has an information-sharing tool in beta testing stage that will help track intake reports and individual clients’ needs assessments, and a new case management system has been taught to some staff.

That will help the department address “many of the case management concerns identified by the auditor general,” he said, without specifying which ones.

“The initiatives I have highlighted are examples of the hard work currently being done … to respond to the auditor general’s concerns,” Mansell said. “I can assure members that this work is ongoing and is a priority.”

Some MLAs questioned Mansell and corrections director Mickey McLeod about case management, one area the auditor general’s team said created barriers for inmates trying to rehabilitate and eventually reintegrate into society.

Mansell said a case management committee was established in 2019, and a manual for standardizing cases was created and circulated among staff.

He said case management begins the day an inmate arrives, and new information-sharing tools will help standardize inmate management across all eight facilities.

“In the auditing world, if you don’t document it properly they don’t consider it having been done,” Mansell said.

“And one of our challenges was that we were doing some of these things, but weren’t properly documenting them.”

Deputy auditor general Andrew Hayes said acting on the recommendations is important for having “a corrections system that promotes the healing and successful reintegration of inmates into society.”

Asked if the auditor general’s office will do a follow-up audit, Hayes said his team is looking instead at doing updates on recommendations rather than full audits, but did not say when that might happen.

The auditor general’s next reports in Nunavut are expected to cover family and child services this year and COVID-19 vaccine distribution next year, said Iqaluit-Tasiluk MLA George Hickes.

The hearing continues Wednesday.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct Mickey McLeod’s job title. 

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(3) Comments:

  1. Posted by Inside glimpse on

    A lot of the problems with the implementation of changes in case management, which were created by the individuals who work most closely with the system, come from incompetent management who didn’t know how to make the system move without a lot of hand holding, so they gave up and didn’t bother.

    These superficial answers really reveal how easy it is to divert the conversation from our real problems, a crisis of incompetence.

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    • Posted by Magiq words on

      The incompetency crisis in Nunavut is something that our leaders will never address (for obvious reasons), but its all good because the new jail will have a kitchen for preparing country food. Problem solved!

      When someone with the equivalent of a 10th grade education somehow gets a job that needs a University Degree, we can all thank the magical last paragraph on the GN’s Job Postings:

      “Equivalencies that consist of an acceptable combination of education, knowledge, skills and abilities to formal education and experience requirements will be considered.” …and (poof!) just like that, your experience as a hunter qualifies you to be a Manager of Environment. It’s “Magiq”!

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      • Posted by Arnold McGillicuddy on

        This is the most astute comment I’ve ever read on Nunatsiaq News,
        Thank you.

        GN HR is in need of some real leadership with real strategies to get people qualified and trained. Put some standards in place somewhere… please!

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