‘Significant improvements’ made but work remains to fix correctional system: deputy minister

Two-day hearing at legislature wraps up Wednesday

Nunavut MLAs on the Standing Committee on Oversight of Government Operations and Public Accounts directed questions to Nunavut Justice Department officials Tuesday and Wednesday about the state of the territory’s corrections system. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A legislative committee reviewing efforts by Nunavut’s Justice Department to improve its correctional system practices finished its two-day hearing Wednesday, and MLAs will continue to track its progress.

The hearing was held to allow MLAs to question Nunavut deputy Justice Minister Stephen Mansell and corrections director Mickey McLeod on the department’s progress in implementing Auditor General of Canada recommendations to improve the territory’s jails.

Those recommendations, contained in two separate reports released in 2015 and 2021, include improving how the department determines inmate suicide and security risk, developing better plans to offer rehabilitation programs, and changing its segregation policy, among others.

In releasing the 2021 report last September, the principal of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada was critical of the department, saying “they haven’t made satisfactory progress” in addressing concerns raised in 2015.

The Standing Committee on Oversight of Government Operations and Public Accounts met Tuesday and Wednesday at the legislative assembly building.

It’s typical for hearings like this to happen shortly after a report is released, said committee chairperson and Iqaluit-Tasiluk MLA George Hickes. It allows MLAs to check on the department involved and its progress in answering concerns raised in the report.

Some of the topics discussed at Wednesday’s hearing concerned staff — how they are trained in working with inmates who have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, challenges they face in working in small community jails with the possibility of being related to inmates, and mental health resources available for them.

Mansell said the department has come a long way in improving the corrections system in Nunavut’s eight jails, but there is more work to be done.

“I think we have made some significant improvements since the completion of this report, and we’re working hard to continue to do better and address the valid concerns raised by the auditor general,” he said Wednesday afternoon.

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(6) Comments:

  1. Posted by Correctional Staff Wellness on

    According to the article the hearing addressed staff mental health and the resources available for them.

    Section 1001 of the Human Resource manual says the GN “is committed to assisting employees to achieve and maintain a healthy and respectful workplace through the delivery of a comprehensive Workplace Wellness Program.” Which will support “employees mental and physical health” and improve “retention rates… and attendance.”

    A question for Mr. Mansell and Mr. McLeod

    How many of our jails have a staff wellness program? Would I be mistaken in guessing none of them?

    https://gov.nu.ca/sites/default/files/hrm1001_workplace_wellness_program_0.pdf

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    • Posted by MARS on

      Hi,

      The GN has a corporate wellness program that gives GN staff a reduced rate to utilize the facilities at the Aquatic Centre here in Iqaluit. As well, mental health counselling is available for all correctional staff.

      ilaali.

      • Posted by 867 on

        That is unbelievably helpful for those working at the jails outside of Iqaluit (not).

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        • Posted by MARS on

          *jail

          Fixed your comment for you. Should be singular.

          ilaali.

          • Posted by Kug on

            Kugluktuk got one too and Rankin too

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  2. Posted by Spencer the Siksik Ruler of Iqaluit on

    If the Department wants to make improvements start by having conversations with the people who work for you. Get your wardens out of hiding and start talking to the people who work on the front lines, not the front office.

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