Hope re­mains for fe­male STU,

MP, MPP and OPSEU vow to keep up the fight

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - FRONT PAGE - SAB­RINA BEDFORD

The prov­ince may have ended a long­stand­ing lo­cal ef­fort to bring a se­cure treat­ment unit for fe­male fed­eral of­fend­ers to Brockville by de­cid­ing to set it up in Bramp­ton, but lo­cal politi­cians have not given up hope.

While dis­cussing the ef­fects of di­min­ish­ing pub­lic ser­vices ear­lier this week at a town hall meet­ing, MPP Steve Clark, MP Gord Brown and Smokey Thomas, pres­i­dent of the On­tario Pub­lic Ser­vices Em­ploy­ees Union (OPSEU), said the area should not give up on the idea of bring­ing a se­cure treat­ment fa­cil­ity for women to the Brockville Men­tal Health Cen­tre (BMHC).

The prov­ince an­nounced in Novem­ber of last year its plan to open a ded­i­cated men­tal health unit for adult fe­male of­fend­ers at the Roy McMurtry Youth Cen­tre (RMYC) in Bramp­ton.

“There’s still room for an­other one in Brockville. I don’t think we should let that go,” said Thomas.

“It would be a good pub­lic ser­vice to have here.”

Area politi­cians tried for years to bring the ser­vice here, and a need for the fa­cil­ity was high­lighted af­ter

The Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, which runs the BMHC, had two beds at its Brockville site which Cor­rec­tional Ser­vice Canada ran as part of a pi­lot project to im­prove men­tal health care for fe­male fed­eral in­mates.

Marlene Carter was trans­ferred to the Brockville pi­lot project in Au­gust 2014 from her home prov­ince of Saskatchewan be­cause no other in­sti­tu­tion in the coun­try would agree to take her. Dur­ing her short stint at the lo­cal hospi­tal, she re­peat­edly stabbed a nurse in the neck and head while be­ing es­corted back to her cell from a bath­room break.

The Royal was charged with five counts un­der On­tario’s Oc­cu­pa­tional Health and Safety Act and con­victed of one: Fail­ing to re­assess the risk Carter posed to staff. The hospi­tal was fined $75,000.

Clark said, how­ever, hav­ing a fa­cil­ity specif­i­cally for fe­male fed­eral of­fend­ers with men­tal health problems would be a step in the right di­rec­tion, es­pe­cially since there is a sim­i­lar fa­cil­ity for male of­fend­ers on the BMHC grounds.

“We need more of those men­tal­health-type beds to sup­port our cor­rec­tions sys­tem,” Clark said, adding he still be­lieves Brockville is a suit­able lo­ca­tion for an ad­di­tional cen­tre.

“It’s a real op­por­tu­nity to ex­pand pub­lic ser­vice. it’s some­thing that would fill a pro­vin­cial need.”

The orig­i­nal pro­posal called for a 20-to-25-bed fa­cil­ity, which would have brought with it the proper re­sources and se­cu­rity to deal with a pa­tient such as Carter

Though the fa­cil­ity even­tu­ally went to Bramp­ton, Brown said he’s still work­ing on bring­ing an­other fa­cil­ity to Brockville.

Not only would it be good on the men­tal health front, he added it’s the right type of fa­cil­ity to bring good jobs to the area.

“We’re con­tin­u­ing to fight on that be­cause that’s im­por­tant jobs right here in the Brockville area,” he said.

“We know with the pend­ing clo­sure of Proc­ter & Gam­ble that that’s some­thing we need to con­tinue to work on.”

SAB­RINA BEDFORD/the recorder and times

MPP Steve Clark, left, Smokey Thomas, cen­tre, and MP Gord Brown dis­cuss the con­tin­u­ing fight to bring a fe­male se­cure treat­ment unit to Brockville at a town hall meet­ing at the Brockville Con­ven­tion Cen­tre on Tues­day.

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