Hope remains for female STU,
MP, MPP and OPSEU vow to keep up the fight
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.”
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.