Tuesday 25 January 1994

Annual report, Provincial Auditor, 1993: Ministry of the Solicitor General

and Correctional Services


Chair / Président: Cordiano, Joseph (Lawrence L)

*Vice-Chair / Vice-Présidente: Poole, Dianne (Eglinton L)

*Bisson, Gilles (Cochrane South/-Sud ND)

*Callahan, Robert V. (Brampton South/-Sud L)

*Duignan, Noel (Halton North/-Nord ND)

Frankford, Robert (Scarborough East/-Est ND)

Marland, Margaret (Mississauga South/-Sud PC)

*Murphy, Tim (St George-St David L)

*O'Connor, Larry (Durham-York ND)

Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre ND)

*Perruzza, Anthony (Downsview ND)

Tilson, David (Dufferin-Peel PC)

*In attendance / présents

Substitutions present/ Membres remplaçants présents:

Jordan, Leo (Lanark-Renfrew PC) for Mrs Marland

Mills, Gordon (Durham East/-Est ND) for Mr Owens

Offer, Steven (Mississauga North/-Nord L) for Mr Cordiano

Rizzo, Tony (Oakwood ND) for Mr Frankford

Runciman, Robert W. (Leeds-Grenville PC) for Mr Tilson

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services:

Humphries, Dr Paul, senior medical consultant and manager, clinical services

Jensen, Kurt, manager, analysis and support, correctional services

McKerrell, Neil, assistant deputy minister, correctional services

Noble, Michele, deputy solicitor general and deputy minister

O'Brien, John, regional director, eastern Ontario

Watson, Tom, superintendent, Ontario Correctional Institute

Peters, Erik, Provincial Auditor

Clerk / Greffier: Decker, Todd

Staff / Personnel: Anderson, Anne, research officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee, following a closed session, met at 1132 in room 151.


The Vice-Chair (Ms Dianne Poole): Welcome to the public accounts committee, as we move into open session. Today we'll be looking at section 3.17 of the auditor's report, which relates to the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services, institutional services.

I would like to introduce our Provincial Auditor and ask him to introduce staff with him today.

Mr Erik Peters: With me today is Jim McCarter, executive director in my office, and Rudy Chiu, the manager in my office.

The Vice-Chair: For the balance of the morning, we will probably be dealing almost exclusively with the ministry presentation. I welcome the Deputy Solicitor General and Deputy Minister of Correctional Services, Michele Noble, and please introduce your colleague.

Ms Michele Noble: Neil McKerrell is the assistant deputy minister of the Correctional Services division of the ministry. He will be here during the proceedings assisting me, as well as other staff we will introduce as we move into other discussions later on.

Let me start by saying to the members of the committee on behalf of myself and the staff that we certainly welcome the opportunity to meet with the committee to discuss the report the Provincial Auditor has brought forward on the institutional services. We're looking forward to the opportunity to look at the concerns that have been raised, to respond to both the auditor's comments and also the concerns committee members might have in terms of the issues raised in the report.

It's also fair to say that we see this as an opportunity to increase awareness generally and understanding of correctional services. It's not an area that is necessarily well understood by members of the public in that it tends to be away from the day-to-day experience of most people. It's a welcome opportunity to have a dialogue about the issues and some of the stresses in the system.

What I'd like to do this morning is take a few minutes to provide a brief introduction and overview of the institutional services themselves and then highlight some of the key areas in the audit report. I think what would be most helpful as we conclude, for both the committee and for ourselves, is to have a bit of discussion about what approach we might want to take to the various sections of the report over the next three days to make sure we have appropriate staff here.

The auditor, in looking at Correctional Services, has focused in on the operation of the institutions themselves, which is a part of the responsibility of the Correctional Services division. It is the institutional part. The report did not deal in detail with the probation community programs the ministry operates.

Relevant to that is that in Ontario only a fraction of those who are under the supervision of Correctional Services are in institutional custody. About 87% of offenders are in the community as opposed to the institutions. I think that's a key factor in terms of understanding the relative proportion of and roles played by the different parts of the system. The issue of community programming is one that has been raised, and as the days and discussions proceed we look forward to the opportunity of talking to the committee members about what community programming means, what the opportunities are there, how it works currently in Ontario.

In terms of the institutions themselves and institutional custody, obviously one of the major concerns is that it function well, a recognition of the concern there has to be for public safety with regard to that type of custody. In terms of understanding how it functions, one of the facts to note is that the average length of sentence in Ontario for males is 75 days and the average length of sentence for adult female offenders is 56 days, very much reflective of the limitation in the provincial system to sentences of two years less a day. Anyone with sentences beyond that moves into the federal system.

In terms of young offenders, obviously the majority of young offenders are in the system for up to three years. With recent changes, there may be a few who would be in our system up to five years. In Ontario we deal with the 16- and 17-year-olds only within the Ministry of Correctional Services, the younger group being dealt with through the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

Also worth noting is that on any given day in our institutions, up to one third of those who are in the institution are there on remand, ie, awaiting their dates in court, as opposed to being there as sentenced offenders. That's certainly of operational significance to us in terms of people on remand needing to have proximity to lawyers, proximity to courts, access etc, so that's something we do need to manage.

In terms of what it is we're trying to do within the institutions, we take very seriously our responsibility to provide secure, humane accommodation and programs in respect to the dispositions that have been brought forward by the courts. We clearly recognize the importance of maintaining public safety. One of the things we attempt to deal with is to provide an environment in which there is the opportunity to encourage change, personal change, among the offenders. Those points are all key to the way we go about doing our business.

On the last point, we recognize there are limits in what can be accomplished with those offenders who are with us for very short stays. However, we attempt to make sure there are opportunities and programming even for those very short-stay offenders. We have some in the system who are there for much longer terms and we have appropriate treatment programs to respond to their needs.


Obviously, one aspect of Correctional Services is that we very much are not in control of our workload. I guess that's the best way to express it. The volume of work is dictated by many factors in terms of the operation of the justice system, and we need to be there in order to respond to that. When there needs to be supervision or a bed, we have to be in a position to provide it. This fact does impact the way we operate and the way we go about our business.

It's certainly well known and understood that one of the pressure areas is in and around the Golden Horseshoe, particularly the Metro Toronto area. We have had for some time pressures in terms of numbers in the institutions in those areas. As we get into the discussions, we can talk about some of the things we do to try to manage that pressure.

Having said that, it's also fair to recognize that there are other parts of the province where there are seasonal patterns that may influence the utilization of the institutions. It may be that there is just the need to have institutions in proximity to other services but that those institutions are not necessarily being used to full capacity on a steady basis. We attempt to manage that, but the facts are certainly ones we will look for an opportunity to discuss with the committee, because they do influence how we have to look at managing the operations in terms of the cost issues which we're obviously here to pursue.

Another element in how the institutions are operated is to reflect on the nature of the offenders we're dealing with. The inmates themselves generally have been underemployed. They are not at the average levels of education levels in general. They frequently have many health problems because of the environments they've been living in. Many do have drug dependencies or alcohol dependencies. In fact, there has been some perception of increase over the last while in terms of people with those problems.

Our sense is that up to 15% of the inmate population currently have need for some sort of psychological-psychiatric help. The report of the auditor does raise comment in terms of the treatment programs. We want to go into some of that discussion, but also to leave with the committee the sense that we recognize its significance as an issue in the population we're trying to manage.

One of the other elements that has been brought out in the report, and we would like to spend some time with the committee looking at it, is this question of the relative efficiency of our newer institutions compared to the older institutions. What I hope will be of particular interest to the committee is the age of the Ontario system compared to those in other provinces and some of the elements that relate to the operations in older facilities in particular. It's worth noting that more than half the institutions in Ontario were built before 1931, and in fact 14 of our institutions are more than 100 years old.

Having said that, we also need to recognize that many of these smaller and older institutions are in smaller communities right across the province, and we need to balance size and reconfiguration considerations against the service issues and the interests of local communities.

Before turning to the report itself and its findings, I would just like to make a comment on behalf of the staff in the ministry, that the organization does very much take seriously its mandate in terms of public service within this province. Speaking for the employees, administrators and a lot of the volunteers who work with us, there's a sense of that responsibility and the need to make sure that's exercised in a very responsible way as duties are carried out. As we go through the days, there may be an opportunity to get a sense of how difficult some of the work that actually needs to be done by the staff is, in terms of some of the circumstances they face. Hopefully, the professionalism of our employees generally is something we can recognize.

Turning to the report itself, the majority of the report really deals with issues related to cost-effectiveness. They have raised points about both the staffing and some of the programming issues. The report speaks to issues with respect to security, and there's also the section in terms of program evaluation and more general comments about programming. For us, there are three cadres or three umbrellas under which we would see the findings.

Dealing with security first, more as a reflection of the business of corrections than anything else, the report has made recommendations that the ministry should take steps to strengthen its procedures. Certainly we all recognize the importance of security in the correctional setting, both in terms of public interest and also -- and this is important -- for the safety of our own staff working in those institutions.

The recommendations went on to comment that "instances of non-compliance with security policies and procedures should be followed up at the corporate level." In responding to the report, and we can elaborate in more detail with the committee, the ministry certainly agrees with the need for continuing vigilance in the area of security, and we've noted changes that have been made to enhance the accountability for security within our operations. A decision has been made to change the time lines on the security compliance reviews from every two years to once a year, so consequently each of the institutions will be reviewed on an annual basis. We've also taken the step of putting in place a committee of senior managers to ensure the appropriate follow-up in response to the security recommendations. We can spend some time with the committee, if you wish, going through some of the aspects we check for in those compliance reviews and talk a bit more about the changed procedures we've put in place to ensure this all takes place.

However, the Provincial Auditor's report did note that critical incidents within Ontario institutions are on a par with other provincial jurisdictions. Worthy of note is that if we look at the security breaches that resulted in escapes from the institutions, it's less than half of 1%. One is not acceptable, and I certainly understand the concerns of the committee members, but in terms of the volumes of inmates we have through the institutions over a time period, that speaks to the seriousness with which the managers and people within the system do treat this issue.

Turning to the issue of the cost of operations, the auditor has looked at several areas to be addressed. Our sense is that the real focus in questions that have been raised here and things we'll want to be spending time with the committee on revolve around the issues of our staffing costs and what have been the underlying factors contributing to the increase in numbers of staff and cost of staff in the system over the period the auditor examined.


Just stepping back a moment, the auditor also noted, and I think this touches on the earlier comment I made with respect to the buildings, that with our newer facilities Ontario does manage and operate those facilities at a per diem level more efficient than the national average. What we're really dealing with is in some ways almost two systems: the newer institutions, which have been built in the recent past and are structured to assist in making sure we're as cost-effective as possible, and the older and smaller institutions, which, because of their age and configuration and a number of other factors, do draw more resources. I think we'll want to pursue just exactly how much those factors can contribute to staffing requirements.

In terms of other areas the auditor has raised, he's also commented on the question of the salaries and benefits rates here in Ontario. We can have some further discussion of that with the committee in terms of what that looks like.

In terms of the other elements contributing to costs, and I referenced this earlier, the nature of the program that may be taking place in a particular institution or part of an institution will have an impact on staffing. For instance, the situation and the way we staff units for young offenders compared to the way we might staff units for a general population of adult males would be different. Similarly, the staffing we might have in a treatment facility would be different from the staffing we would have in a general population of adult males.

We will be open to discussing all of those factors with the committee in terms of understanding how those factors interplay with one another in suggesting the number of staff we need.

Having said all of that, however, we need to note that the ministry was in the process of undertaking a staffing analysis. This had begun during the period the audit was being undertaken, and we are just now in the process of getting the final results from that staffing analysis, which will give us a much better picture of staffing in the individual institutions. We will want to spend some time with the committee in talking about how we might use that, plus some other work we will be undertaking, to make sure we are managing the institutions and dealing with the staffing question in the most cost-effective way possible.

One of the key points related to the issue of staffing costs, and certainly the ministry shares the concern the auditor has raised, is the issue of attendance and absenteeism within our organization. The report raised the point that we should be doing a more effective job of monitoring the use of sick leave and ensuring there is a more responsive monitoring capacity in place in the various institutions.

We would like to spend a little time talking about some of the variability in the absenteeism we have within the system, and then talk to the committee about the review and our plan to essentially take an approach which says: Where do we have some best practice programs in place within the institutional system and how can we move those into the other institutions? We'll want to talk to the committee about that.

Since the audit has taken place we've also begun some discussions -- they're preliminary at this point -- with OPSEU in terms of the general issue and are looking forward to some further discussion with them about what kind of approach or study could be done in a more collaborative way with them to look at some of the factors underlying issues that relate to this subject in the institutions. We look forward to working with them in trying to get at this issue.

I've talked already about the question of the buildings and won't spend time now going back over that, other than to say that as part of a review of our operations in general, we will be looking at the question of use of facilities. The recommendation that we look at business cases that include operational efficiencies as a component in looking at capital projects coming forward is something the ministry management is going to be doing.

The auditor raised a suggestion in terms of electronic equipment in security applications, and that's certainly an area we can talk further about with the committee. Again that is something that will be examined as part of this consideration of how we operate the institutions, as we deal with this subject within the existing institutions and what kind of investments would be needed to make changes there. Some of our buildings, obviously, lend themselves to these kinds of approaches more than others.

In terms of the programming, the auditor recommended that we "should strengthen [our] efforts to liaise with the judicial system to determine whether community programs could be better utilized." The ministry is supportive of that, and in our response we made reference to ongoing discussions we are having with our colleagues in the justice system and also those in the other parts of the system: social services and health etc.

In terms of the community programs, though, we probably will want to spend some time with the committee on the fact that we need to almost take one step back from how we use community programming when individuals are sentenced into institutions, against the backdrop of the sentencing pattern of judges here in Ontario. The auditor has noted that of those sentenced into institutions, there is a difference, on a percentage basis in Ontario, of those who are then into community programs through that part of the system when compared to other provinces. But we also need to recognize -- and this really gets back to the issue of who's in the community -- that the Ontario sentencing pattern varies from other provinces as well. In other words, we have a much higher proportion of offenders who are sentenced by the courts to probation as opposed to being sentenced to the institutions in the first instance. I hope it will be of interest to the committee to look at some of those statistics so we can have a dialogue around the community program in relationship to the institutional settings.

The report makes specific mention of the issue of offenders with mental disorders, and in my earlier comments I noted the proportion of offenders that we feel do have difficulties. We are working with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community and Social Services and we can provide an update on some of the work we are doing, particularly with the Ministry of Health around offenders with mental disorders. Those are topics we'll want to cover. There has been a renewed interest in discussion and a sense of priority for having those discussions take place between the Ministry of Health and ourselves that we see very positively in trying to deal with some of these issues.

The last area the report dealt with was the question of the objectives that have been set by the ministry, particularly this question of creating a supportive environment for change. The response provided by the ministry is to indicate that there had been, at the time of the ministry integration, a very substantive exercise in strategic planning undertaken in the former Ministry of Correctional Services. The integration of the two ministries has had an impact on the timing of that. The senior management group of the now integrated ministry is taking on the responsibility of coming at setting strategic directions for the organization as a whole. We're engaged in that exercise and, as part of that, looking at the question and directions with respect to corrections will be very much part of the work we do. That's a work in progress; it's not yet completed.


However, we have been doing some work in terms of our ability to have statistical information available through our systems and to make improvements there. We can be updating the committee in terms of that particular work as we go through the discussions.

That completes what is obviously just a very general overview as an introduction from the ministry's perspective. I hope I've been able to give some indication of what we perceive to be the areas the auditor's report calls for dialogue with the committee about, and I look forward to your comments or feedback on that.

I should mention a couple of specifics. The ministry has, through the committee's offices, made the offer to arrange for a tour of an institution in proximity to Toronto. We had suggested the Toronto Jail, but I would leave it to the committee, both in terms of whether they wish to take up that invitation or whether that is a site the committee would be interested in seeing. From our perspective, it offers an opportunity in terms of its proximity, but also one gets a sense of the busyness of the system and probably a sense of the diversity of inmates we deal with within the system as a whole. I just leave that with the committee as an offer. If you could let us know, hopefully today, it would facilitate making our arrangements if you wish to take us up on that.

Second, we have a short video we can use if the committee is interested. It is a video we use at job fairs looking at people who may be interested in corrections as a career, so that's the focus of the video. It's relatively short, about 15 minutes. The advantage is that it gives a sense of the range of the business of corrections in the institutions.

That aside, what we had been going to propose, given the time over the next three days, is that we might want to look at the security issue first, as it's a reasonably self-contained discussion and we could deal with that, and then move into the much more broad-ranging discussion of the cost issues when we move beyond today. Obviously, if we've finished with the one, we could start.

Preparatory to all of this, we'd like to provide a more detailed overview of our operations, if that would be of interest to the committee. I just put that out for your consideration. If it pleases the committee, we may want to start the afternoon with that overview and then we could take direction from the committee from there.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation, Ms Noble. You brought up several questions with reference to how we're going to proceed.

First, regarding your suggestion about a visit to a correctional institution, while I think the idea generally was quite well received by committee members when we discussed it in camera a bit earlier, there were a couple of concerns relayed in committee about timing, whether we would have time this week to do it or whether it might be more appropriate to schedule when the House comes back into session. Second, there was some discussion of the type of institution we would like to visit. We will try to get back to you later today. We are going to meet briefly in camera at the end of today's session, to see how much we have managed to get through today and whether we feel there would be time.

With reference to the 15-minute video, that is not a problem for us. We can use broadcast services to show it on the monitor and it would be televised to the public at the same time. The slide show would be somewhat more problematic. We have had technical problems in trying to do that while it's televised. If you could provide a hard copy to members, that might be a more appropriate way to proceed.

Mr Robert W. Runciman (Leeds-Grenville): Other members may not agree with me, but when we're talking about a video for potential employees, I would rather they make it available for anyone interested in viewing it. We're dealing with the auditor's report and time for questioning. Quite often -- and this is no reflection on our witnesses -- the ministries that appear before committees often have these kind suggestions which indeed have the effect of minimizing the opportunity to ask questions. I hope the committee would keep that in mind.

The Vice-Chair: If other members of the committee feel the same way, we could perhaps suggest that we show the video at 1:45 via television and members who are interested in seeing it could come early to committee today. Either that or we could show it at 2 o'clock. Any comments?

Mr Robert V. Callahan (Brampton South): I join Mr Runciman. It might be all very interesting to see this film, but we've normally conducted our business without the introduction of commercials, and I really don't see any point in it. I thank the deputy minister for the offer, but I agree with Mr Runciman. The purpose of this committee hearing is to get at the problems identified by the auditor, to dig into it and determine whether any solutions have been arrived at, or perhaps suggestions might be made by members of this committee about how the matter might be dealt with. I certainly don't see any function of it.

Mr Noel Duignan (Halton North): I tend to agree as well. We are dealing with very specific issues in the auditor's report, and this is basically a recruiting video. I feel it should be shown at quarter to 2 or whatever. It doesn't pertain to the auditor's report.

The Vice-Chair: Would members like it shown at 1:45 so that anybody interested can see it?

Mr Gordon Mills (Durham East): I would think that's appropriate: If you want to be here at 1:45 to see it, you can. That would resolve the issue and the concerns of Mr Runciman.

The Vice-Chair: I thank the deputy minister for her offer. We will show it at 1:45, and I apologize in advance to broadcast services staff who have to come back from lunch a little early. We appreciate their indulgence.

Mr Callahan: Have you checked with them whether they will be back early?

The Vice-Chair: You never ask the question, Mr Callahan, unless you're prepared to live with the answer. It's better not to ask it.

Mr Anthony Perruzza (Downsview): Can I just make a point? I had my hand up. Quite often we finish our day early; we're scheduled to sit till 6 o'clock but we finish at 4:30 or quarter to 5 or 5 o'clock. I have no problem in staying till 5:15 or 6 o'clock and seeing the video at 2 o'clock. I'd find it informative, and in all fairness to the broadcast staff and everyone else, I don't think that would be a big deal.


Mr Perruzza: Well, that's fine as well. I don't think it should be that big a deal or that big an issue. It's part of our work.

Mr Callahan: This member perhaps is not as familiar with this committee as he should be, because I don't ever recall it being till 6 o'clock. I wouldn't want someone out there to get the impression that we break early. We don't. We've sat here beyond what is the traditional time of either 4:30 or 5. It may be that the member is in and out and has not quite attuned himself to the timing of the committee as we sit here. Perhaps we should clarify that issue.

The Vice-Chair: Normally, committees do sit until 5 unless in certain circumstances; for instance, if we're travelling and there is an extensive agenda, we have extended it to 6. But normally it is 5 o'clock, mainly because members usually have an hour or two of work back in their office waiting for them.

Mr Mills: Can we test quarter to 2?


The Vice-Chair: The suggestion, which seems to now have consensus, is that we will show the film at 2 o'clock.

Mr Callahan: No, quarter to 2.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you. I thought there was a change in the sea wind there, and I was surprised. At 1:45 we will show the video. We've now discussed that for 10 minutes, so I think we're helping defeat the purpose. After the video at 1:45, we will then commence the official proceedings at 2 with the auditor's comments, and then we'll go into 20-minute rotations of the three caucuses.

Mr Mills: What's the order of rotation?

The Vice-Chair: I'm alternating it. Last week I started with the government, this week I'll start with the official opposition, and if I'm still in the chair next time, I'll start with the Conservatives. The public accounts committee will stand adjourned till 1:45.

The committee recessed from 1211 to 1404.

The Vice-Chair: Order.

Mr Mills: Madam Chair, I wonder if I might start off and ask a question that I think is pertinent in so far as process. This morning we heard the deputy minister make some suggestions about how we should proceed over the next three days, and maybe everyone silently is agreeing to that, but I didn't hear any affirmation that that was the process that was going to take place. I'm not asking on behalf of the deputy; I'm asking as a member of this committee: Are we going to do that, or how do other members see this unfolding?

Mr Callahan: Point of order.

Mr Runciman: Point of order.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Callahan, Mr Runciman.

Mr Callahan: A committee makes its own rules and runs the operation the way it wishes to run.

Mr Mills: Exactly.

Mr Callahan: I think the deputy minister indicated that she was suggesting this. I don't think there's any -- certainly not on my part, and I can't speak for Mr Runciman. I think we're here to do a job and we're going to do the job, and that isn't necessarily going to be following the very kind suggestions of the deputy minister.

Mr Runciman: Along the same lines, Madam Chair, I thought we were going to start questioning now, and I think you indicated to the members of the committee earlier that afterwards we were going to go in camera and discuss the sort of thing Mr Mills is talking about. We have the deputy and other people from the ministry before us for a specific purpose today and I don't think we should get into this sort of discussion while they're here. I'm sure they can be doing more valuable things when we're sitting in committee discussing what the committee is going to do.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you, Mr Runciman, for the input. As Chair, I did recommend earlier on before we adjourned that the committee would make a decision later today, depending on our afternoon session, if we felt we would need the full balance of the two days to discuss the matters or whether in fact we would like to see a couple of correctional institutions during this particular week. So we will try to get you an answer either at the end of the day, or if ministry staff has left by that stage when we finish meeting, then we would certainly let you know first thing in the morning, particularly if we do want to go ahead this week with a viewing of some of the centres.

I think, just before we go into questioning by members, the auditor did have a couple of comments.

Mr Peters: Just a very brief opening statement. I just would like to emphasize that in our audit we did find in the ministry that the mandate is taken very seriously, that there's a great sense of responsibility, that it is difficult work, and we would like to express our appreciation for the cooperation we received during this audit. We felt that senior management dealt with our audit observations in an objective and constructive manner and that the ministry was quite receptive to our recommendations that we made.

Overall, we are in the position we talked about in 1987, measuring and reporting on the ministry's effectiveness in meeting the program objective, and I think that was the emphasis again in our report this year. So I hope our report will serve for the members as a catalyst for action to deal with this very difficult situation.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you, Mr Peters. We'll begin questioning by members and we'll start with the official opposition. First Mr Callahan and then Mr Murphy.

Mr Callahan: Can you tell me when that video was made?

Ms Noble: I don't have the exact date. I'll check. It obviously was made some time ago. In fact I was going to make the comment at the outset that some of the facts have now changed organizationally. It doesn't reflect the integration of the ministries and it doesn't reflect the fact we've done some organizational change from five to four regions.

On the question of the date, I will ask whether one of my staff can perhaps give the exact date when it was made.

Mr Callahan: I'm just curious. Has it been made in the last year?

Ms Noble: No, it has not.

Mr Callahan: The last two years?

Mr Neil McKerrell: I believe it was 1992.

Mr Callahan: Do you know what the cost of that video was? Maybe you can get that information for us too.

Ms Noble: I certainly can provide that information to you. Perhaps if I can just elaborate and again confirm that the purpose of it -- and we've used it quite substantially -- is as we've dealt with the issues of recruitment.

Mr Callahan: Within the correctional system, do you have the equivalency of the police department, an internal affairs branch that would investigate complaints by guards as to working facilities, or do they complain to their direct supervisor?

Ms Noble: Within the correctional system there are actually a number of mechanisms that might be used. If the complaints are with respect to complaints of harassment, the ministry does have a special independent unit that has been established to deal with those kinds of complaints specifically. If there are concerns being brought forward by staff, for instance the potential for contraband in the institutions, that kind of an issue, we do have a group of investigators -- they are now part of the integrated ministry's audit and evaluation group -- who do investigate that kind of complaint. So yes, we do have internal investigatory capacity. Where it goes is dependent on the nature of the complaint.

Within each institution there is also a provision and a capacity for staff to bring forward issues to their managers, and each institution would have a capacity to investigate local incidents.


Mr Callahan: Where do they go beyond the manager if they don't find that the manager is especially sensitive to their complaint? Where do they go from there? Leaving aside the union; I know they have the right to grieve, but where do they go from there?

Ms Noble: I think the opportunity is open to all staff, if they can't get the issue addressed by their manager, to go to a regional office. Frequently they do that. Staff bring issues directly to the attention of the ADM's office. I can also speak to the fact that staff, where they feel that issues are not being addressed, bring them directly to my office's attention.

Mr Callahan: The reason I raise the issue is that the milieu within a correctional facility is much like the milieu in a police department. There is a degree of camaraderie. There is a degree of not speaking out about what's going on necessarily in the facility. It was for that reason, it's my belief anyway, that internal affairs units were set up to deal with complaints of employees in the police department, in order to ensure that there would be impartiality and objectiveness. I gather there is no such equivalency in the correctional service. That's probably a rhetorical question, because I know there isn't.

Ms Noble: There isn't an internal complaints office in the sense that a police service has it. I think what I'm trying to indicate is that for complaints of a particular nature in terms of harassment, there are very clear understandings and opportunities for staff to go directly to the independent unit in terms of raising those concerns. We do have a group that is outside the correctional services division that does investigations into other issues, and certainly staff are free to bring those issues forward to that group.

Mr Callahan: There was recently a rather detailed investigation done of the correctional system in terms of the question of racial discrimination, was there not?

Ms Noble: Yes. We've had work done internally within the last year.

Mr Callahan: Has that report been tabled yet or has it been made public?

Ms Noble: It has not as yet. We expect to be sharing that within the organization shortly.

Mr Callahan: When will it be tabled for the benefit of the legislative members?

Ms Noble: It's an internal management report, but certainly we expect that it will be available within the next couple of weeks and certainly would be available to people who were requesting it.

Mr Callahan: Well, I'm requesting it right now.

Ms Noble: We will take note and ensure that you get a copy.

Mr Callahan: You've indicated and the auditor has indicated as well that there are a large number of people in correctional facilities who are suffering from mental illness or disabilities that make them perhaps difficult or violent. How are they dealt with if they're in a correctional facility that does not have an established medical procedure for dealing with these people? How are they dealt with?

Ms Noble: I think each institution has procedures in order to deal with individual inmates' health needs and those needs in particular. I think to provide the kind of detail that you're asking, what I'd like to do is call upon Dr Humphries, who is one of the ministry people, and ask him to explain, to make sure that you get a detailed answer to your question. Dr Humphries, would you mind coming forward.

Mr Callahan: Perhaps you could address your attention as to whether or not drugs are used for these people.

The Vice-Chair: Dr Humphries, could you just introduce yourself for the purpose of Hansard.

Dr Paul Humphries: Yes, of course. Dr Paul Humphries, senior medical consultant and manager of clinical services for the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services of Ontario.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you for that very full description. Please continue.

Dr Humphries: Thank you, Mr Callahan. For the mentally disturbed people we use a multidisciplinary, multifaceted approach. The literature suggests that over the years work done back in 1939 suggested -- and this study was done in France -- that when you start to remove people from mental health facilities you tend to get more of them into correctional facilities. That in fact has been our observation, especially with the changes that occurred in the late 1970s.

We don't feel that those changes now attribute to the fact that we're getting more of these people. We think it's more the pressures in the community which is putting pressure on both Health and Correctional Services. But the fact remains that we are getting more of them and as such we've approach the problem, as I mentioned, with a multifaceted, multidisciplinary approach.

Across the province we have coverage for all of our institutions, psychiatric, medical, nursing, dentistry etc. We have psychiatric services available to every offender within all of our approximately 50 institutions. Across the province we have 285 full- and part-time nurses. We have 198 social service workers, half of whom all have masters' degrees. We have approximately 100 full- and part-time psychologists, as I say, plus our dentistry, plus our recreationists, our chaplains, the whole bit.

For our very, very sick people, yes, we use medications, as indicated, and let me explain that. You heard our deputy minister indicate earlier that at least 15% of our population has what we feel is a mental illness such that they would benefit from psychiatric and/or psychological services. But in addition to that, we have 6.7% of our population who are seriously mentally ill and in many cases should be hospitalized in a mental health facility, possibly run by the Ministry of Health.

But the realities are that over 15% indicates approximately 1,000 to 1,500 mentally ill people in any one day, and our 6.7% indicates around 500 people who are mentally ill to the point of being psychotic, schizophrenic, all of those kinds of things.

So that's where the multidisciplinary approach comes in. If we're dealing with a behavioural problem, we will use behavioural techniques to deal with it; if we're dealing with depressions, we'll use individual therapies, we'll use anti-depressant medications; if we're dealing with our serious psychotics and schizophrenics, we will use a heavy-duty -- chlorpromazine, Largactil, things of that nature.

Mr Callahan: Is that the latest drug for schizophrenics?

Dr Humphries: Chlorpromazine?

Mr Callahan: Yes.

Dr Humphries: It's a basic generic drug from which you can build many different kinds of treatments.

Mr Callahan: You've answered my question partially. If that's the case, and if we hear from the deputy that the average stay for I think male inmates was 57 days, what happens when they're released back out on the street?

Dr Humphries: We think, and like to think, that we have to have very concentrated programs because of the short stay and the time period that we have with them. We will provide medication for them upon discharge --

Mr Callahan: For how long?

Dr Humphries: For the period of time that it would take for them to be seen by an appropriate mental health practitioner in the community. As much as possible we would arrange appointments for them before leaving. Remember, in addition to the network that I've talked about across the province -- because obviously we can't move 1,200 people over to the Ministry of Health, nor can we move 500 people over; their beds are full as well -- we have developed our own internal treatment facilities and I'll just quickly run through those.

We have a 220-bed treatment facility called the Ontario Correctional Institute at Brampton; we have an 84-bed assessment and treatment unit at Guelph called the Guelph assessment and treatment unit; we have an 84-bed assessment and treatment unit at Rideau on the grounds of the Rideau Correctional and Treatment Centre; we have a 96-bed treatment facility in Sault Ste Marie which is paired with Correctional Service Canada, 48 inmates from them and 48 inmates from us, equally funded but totally run by Ontario; we have a 23-bed treatment facility at Vanier for the treatment and assistance of women; we have a 26-bed treatment facility for our maximum-security inmates at Millbrook Correctional Centre near Peterborough; and we have a 16-bed treatment facility for francophones at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.


Initially, when our inmates are on remand and short stays, we can initiate treatment through our psychiatric/psychological/social work services, including medication. Upon sentence, if indicated, we can then move them to one of these multidisciplinary, intensive treatment institutions and upon discharge from there, we can hopefully have the proper connections to move them over to the proper treatment facilities within a community.

Mr Callahan: But the bottom line, from what I get from what you're saying, is that on any one day you're releasing a significant number of people who are mentally ill back into the community without any type of ability to be able to deal with them or to monitor them or to assist them other than a prescription until they get to the next facility to check in, which they probably don't do.

Dr Humphries: There is an excellent working relationship between ourselves and the Ministry of Health and especially between our treatment facilities and those in the community. Oft-times the specialists, the psychiatrists with whom we deal, will also be in practice in the community, will be on staff at the various hospitals, including the psychiatric units and facilities within a community. So we hope that there is a continuity.

In addition to that, we've worked actively with the Ministry of Health to try to work on a stepping process, which is what I would personally like to see. I've worked on it for about four years and presently, the present reform that we've now set up, an interministerial committee, and it's actually provincial-federal, because it has three representatives from our ministry, two from the Attorney General, three from the Ministry of Health, one of whom is chairing it --

Mr Callahan: I'm going to have to jump in because my time is fleeting.

I would venture to say that a large number of people you have in those institutions are schizophrenic.

Dr Humphries: Of the 500?

Mr Callahan: Yes.

Dr Humphries: Yes.

Mr Callahan: The latest drug is -- I'm trying to think of it.

Dr Humphries: Are you thinking of clozapine?

Mr Callahan: Yes. It's the most recent one out and it's the most effective with schizophrenics. You provide that within the institution, don't you?

Dr Humphries: Absolutely. Yes.

Mr Callahan: What I'd like you to do is to check with the Ministry of Health, and I know this having spoken with the minister directly in the House, once these people are back out on the street, many of them, you will agree with me, remain on the street. They're street people.

Dr Humphries: Yes.

Mr Callahan: They don't have access to that drug through the formulary. So the net result, you probably see them again. Would that be a fair statement?

Dr Humphries: I think that's a fair statement, although our research studies show that recidivism from our treatment facilities is lower than our regular recidivism rates.

Mr Callahan: But you would agree with me then in the case of schizophrenics, if they don't have access to that most recent drug through the formulary because these people are street people who more than likely are on some form of welfare, they're going to wind up right back in your facility, having done something as a result of being out of control. Is that right?

Dr Humphries: Only partially right, Mr Callahan. That drug is a very fine drug, but we've been using very fine drugs for 30 years. It started with the chlorpromazine derivatives, with Mellaril and Largactil, Nozinan and all of those, and they're still available and they're still formulary drugs.

Mr Callahan: Certainly this one is one that's supported very strongly by the Friends of Schizophrenics, which is a group that deals with schizophrenics. I would suggest that through your interministerial groups that you have, you speak to the Ministry of Health and convince them of the fine and beneficial thing of providing that as part of the formulary. It will probably save you people at least $140 a day, which is what I understand it costs you on average to keep a person in jail, and it will certainly probably make our society a bit safer. You're nodding your head, so I gather you agree with me.

Dr Humphries: Yes. Personally, Mr Callahan, I'm on that committee. The next meeting is tentatively set up for February 3. I think that's a week from Thursday and I will personally take it upon myself to raise the issue.

Mr Callahan: Thank you very much. I appreciate that. How much time have I got?

The Vice-Chair: You have about four minutes, Mr Callahan.

Mr Callahan: Okay. I'd like to talk about the question of young people who come there. Are there people on staff in your major facilities who would be able to identify a person coming through the doors who might have a learning disability, an attention deficit disorder?

Dr Humphries: Yes, although I must be careful not to step out of my own realm. We do have educational and training programs and availabilities within our institution. So unless the individual presented with a double diagnosis or a mental health diagnosis, I would not want to suggest that our clinical people might necessarily pick it up. If they did come in with that problem, I would hope our people would pick it up. I would anticipate that they would.

Mr Callahan: We understood from the educational people last week that there are funds made available for learning-disabled people or, for that matter, exceptional people, who don't just include learning disabled -- but they're the invisible disability, I call it -- to provide special education teachers to them. Are you aware whether this program is actively being involved in any of your institutions?

Dr Humphries: From my personal point of view, sir, I know that we have teachers and I know we have divested with boards of education and so certainly we're tied in closely with the department of education --

Mr Callahan: With respect, my question was whether or not you have actual teachers who are certified or qualified to teach learning-disabled children or adults.

Ms Noble: Yes. To deal with the question you're raising, I think in fairness to Dr Humphries, what he's trying to express is that's not an area he's responsible for. I think the question you're raising really does deal with what assessment capacity is available in the YO facilities is perhaps best addressed by Mr John O'Brien, who is also with me here today. So, John, if you could again just introduce yourself for Hansard and then perhaps address Mr Callahan's question.

Mr John O'Brien: Yes. I'm John O'Brien. I'm regional director for eastern Ontario. I was superintendent of the Sprucedale Youth Centre, so I do know a little bit about this particular area.

The 14 pre-trial institutions which we have for young offenders and four secure custody all have teachers provided to them by local boards of education. Most of those teachers are chosen for their ability to work with learning disabilities and with people who are behind their peers in school.

The class ratios are very small, usually in the order of six or eight students per teacher, and all young offenders go through a very intensive testing program to determine at what level they are functioning, what special needs they have and how these special needs can be addressed, not only in the institution but once they return to the community.

Mr Callahan: Finally, I guess, and maybe in the next round I can ask some more questions, I gather that there has been no policy within the correctional system, probably most specifically with young offenders because it would be impossible to do it with the adult population, to have someone there who would act as, as they do in a hospital -- what do they call it where someone assesses the person visually -- has credentials to be able to determine whether this person has some form of learning disability in order to appropriately deal with that person and perhaps save yourself an awful lot of money down the line in future years for them winding up in trouble with the law.

Mr O'Brien: For young offenders, that assessment is in place and functioning. For adults, each of our institutions has both volunteers and, in some cases, actual teachers who can provide the same service, but the onus is on the offender to come forward and seek that.

Mr Callahan: Finally, you're saying in the young offenders, that all of them are assessed for purposes --

Mr O'Brien: Yes.

Mr Callahan: They receive a psychological assessment to determine whether or not they've got a learning disability?

Mr O'Brien: No. They are assessed by a qualified teacher who is specially trained in this area, not necessarily by a psychologist, although psychologists are available in these institutions as well.

Going back to Paul Humphries' original point, there is a multidisciplinary approach to the case management of young offenders as well. Certainly we see a high percentage of learning disabilities in this group. We have strong emphasis on educational programs and that's especially true in our longer-stay, secure-custody facilities.

Mr Callahan: Okay. Thank you.


Mr Runciman: I have a couple of questions for Dr Humphries as well as sort of a follow-up to what he was indicating earlier.

You mentioned you're involved in an interministerial committee. Is that the one that's referred to in the auditor's report, the ministry response to the auditor's concerns that the ministry's working with the Ministry of Health etc in developing a comprehensive strategy? Is that the same group we're talking about here?

Dr Humphries: Yes, Mr Runciman, it is.

Mr Runciman: When did that start?

Dr Humphries: It was proposed as a draft in the middle of the summer. It was sent from the Deputy Minister of Health to our deputy late in the fall. People were identified as to who will represent. As I say, there'll be representation from our ministry, from Corrections, the Attorney General and --

Mr Runciman: I appreciate brief responses to my questions because we have limited time.

So it started in the summer. When do you expect it to finish?

Dr Humphries: I suspect we will do well if we've completed it within a year, but that's only my own personal view. You see, we'll be starting at the very beginning of the system with diversion and then we'll move into court assessments, and that's a very widespread and comprehensive area.

Mr Runciman: What happens with the report when you finally finish it? What other hurdles does it have to go through?

Dr Humphries: It will then be reported to each of our respective deputy ministers, and I'm sure they will look at it, by our senior administration, and beyond that is beyond my knowledge.

Mr Runciman: Okay. We won't hold our breath then, I guess.

Dr Humphries: May I comment on that, though, Mr Runciman?

Mr Runciman: A 30-second comment.

Dr Humphries: We've worked on this long enough that, as we work on it, we intend to implement some of the pieces.

Mr Runciman: Just leak it to the opposition members. That might help.

You talked about, I think on any given day, something like 500 to 1,200 of your population are folks with mental disorders, and you also made the comment that health beds are full. I find difficulty with that comment because I have a psychiatric hospital in my own area which is down to, I think, 280 beds being occupied. Not too many years ago it had 1,200 and, before that, 1,700 beds. So there's a real effort to move people out of these institutions and put them out into the communities. I think the beds are there; it's just a policy, if you will, within the government, not to have them occupied.

Dr Humphries: Yes. As a matter of fact, I met with the administrator of your hospital and a number of his senior staff 10 months ago because we were having difficulty moving people in and it was creating a few of the problems, which you're probably aware of, in the community.

We have been able to work out a situation where they are being very helpful to us. But again, even though they've downsized beds, they're still essentially pretty full, I think you would agree.

Mr Runciman: You've talked about these people, and I assume this applies when we're talking to the general population, some with mental disorders. Their average stay within your care is what, three months or less?

Dr Humphries: Yes, 72 days -- well, I guess 78 now, for males, and 50-some for females.

Mr Runciman: You talked about providing psychiatric services, I presume on a consultative basis for the most part, psychological and so on. But really, how much care can you give in that period of time? All you can do is really treat them with drugs or what have you. You really can't give them the psychiatric care that they clearly require.

Dr Humphries: In our jails and detention centres it is essentially the beginning of a Band-Aid process.

Mr Runciman: Band-Aid is a good word.

Dr Humphries: But in the treatment centres that I referred to, yes, that's very intensive; I would say almost as intensive as in the psychiatric hospitals.

Mr Runciman: Have you done any analysis in terms of the recidivism rates in respect of these kinds of individuals? I'm talking about the likelihood of reoffending. How often do they reoffend? I'd think it would be pretty high.

Dr Humphries: In our treatment centres we know that it's lower than the regular recidivism rate. In the jails and detention centres I think that would be impossible to determine because some of them are in and out in three or four days.

Mr Runciman: Thanks very much. I want to direct a few questions to the deputy.

I know the government is in a cost-cutting mood now and I think that all ministries have been asked to try and trim their budgets where possible. Were you given a definitive goal in terms of cutting costs, cut x per cent out of your budget? Was there a goal that you are working to achieve?

Ms Noble: Each ministry was asked to identify alternatives and options for coming forward with cost-cutting measures, and this ministry was as well. In terms of the current cost-cutting, what we have are specific measures that the ministry has committed itself to undertaking in terms of cutting costs as opposed to what I assume you're referring to as a percentage target.

Looking at some of the things that we have done as part of what has been referred to as the multi-year expenditure reduction plan exercise, we have taken steps. I mentioned earlier, at the beginning of this afternoon, that we have in fact reconfigured the correctional services division from five regions to four as a cost-cutting measure. We've also made changes in the way in which we've structured the parole offices.

Mr Runciman: But you don't have a bottom-line objective in terms of the percentage reduction.

Ms Noble: We have commitments in terms of specific things we've committed to doing.

Mr Runciman: Yes. I wonder how that fits in. I guess I'm just curious. This has already been decided, but I'm going back to the decision where it was announced by the minister that they were going to provide allowances for people waiting for trial.

Ms Noble: Remand, yes.

Mr Runciman: Remand cases. There was an outcry essentially, I guess, from people working within the system initially, and then the media and then public, and the minister withdrew it, I gather, with some reluctance, publicly anyway, that he felt it was a good idea but it was inappropriate at the time apparently.

I'm just wondering, given the current state of the economy, the difficulties the government is facing, what's the mindset of the bureaucracy, let alone the political folks, in respect to these kinds of initiatives when you're looking at cutting services? What was the rationale behind that kind of a decision?

Ms Noble: In terms of the allowance for the remand inmates.

Mr Runciman: Yes, "Let's come up with another $300,000-plus to do something that isn't there," and obviously it wasn't that badly needed if it can be cut before it started.

Ms Noble: I think what we were essentially dealing with is a concern that had been brought forward to the Ombudsman's office in terms of the question of equity between the allowance that was being provided to sentenced inmates as distinct from those who were in the institutions on remand. There had in fact been a long series of discussions between the ministry and the Ombudsman's office as to how we might most effectively address the question. We had come up with a proposal that we felt could meet that. It did have a cost attached to it; certainly, as the fiscal situation became increasingly more serious, then the decision was taken to not address that issue at this point in time due to cost issues. So it was really coming forward as an equity issue from the Ombudsman's office.

Mr Runciman: Again I just wonder about these kinds of decisions. It seems to be the old bureaucratic political mindset, making proposals like this in the midst of cutbacks. I was told too that you're looking at new uniforms for officers, which are going to cost significant dollars. Is that still proceeding?

Ms Noble: I think the question of the uniforms for the correctional officers has been a source of some major concern for some period of time. There has been work done by staff in looking at that question, but I would certainly say to the committee that there's been no decision that we would be committing resources at this point in time to doing a renewal of uniforms just for the sake of doing them. We've had a discussion with OPSEU because of the nature of the concerns of our staff but we've not made a decision and I would certainly agree with the committee that this is not the time when that's the kind of investment that we're in a position to make.

Mr Runciman: What was the cost estimate on that?

Ms Noble: In fact, the work is such that it has not reached my attention yet. I was simply aware that there was some study being done.

Mr Runciman: I was advised hundreds of thousands of dollars, whether that's accurate or not, on new-style uniforms.

Ms Noble: I think a reflection of the priority it's receiving is that not any of it has come anywhere near my desk.

Mr Runciman: There was some suggestion -- this deals with young offenders; Mr O'Brien may want to comment on it and I know this has been incorporated in the United States and I think in some other jurisdictions as well, and this is sort of a strict-discipline youth offender facility. I wonder if you're taking a look at anything like that. I know Alberta's looking at it and perhaps a couple of other jurisdictions. Is there any consideration being given to that sort of concept in Ontario?

Mr O'Brien: Not that I'm aware of at this time.


Mr Runciman: I guess it was in the auditor's report talking about the implications once the Young Offenders Act was changed in 1985 when we had to provide separate housing for these individuals. If the Young Offenders Act is revised and people 16 years of age and older fall within the adult court, although I think that's unlikely, but if it did happen, what are the cost implications for the government, in terms of the positive cost implications, I assume? From your ministry, it would simply be within Comsoc. You'd lose that total cost, I assume. There may be some other implications on the other side of your system.

Ms Noble: I'm not sure that one can necessarily just do a straight extrapolation, though obviously if in fact the age limits were to be changed and we were to go back to integrating all the 16- and 17-year-olds into the general population within the institutions, that would certainly have an impact in terms of lowering costs, because we do provide a different level of support to the young offenders in accordance with the requirements of the federal legislation. But in answer to your question, have we actually done any work around that in terms of examining the cost impact, no, we haven't.

Mr Runciman: It should be fairly significant, I would think.

As part of the auditor's report, we talked about the correctional officers in Ontario being the highest-paid in Canada, and you made some comment in respect of that in your initial comments. You talked about the per diems being lower than any other jurisdiction and so on. But I wonder, without talking about staffing levels, what's the government's justification for having the highest-paid correctional officers in Canada versus even the federal members apparently who have, I would think, a much more challenging job in terms of some of the individuals they have to look after? What's the justification for having the highest-paid folks?

Ms Noble: Without wanting to get into a comparison of the difficulty of the job in the federal system versus ours, I think it is worthy to note that many of the most difficult members going through to the federal system in fact spend time with us, and therefore some of our staff are in fact dealing with these very same people.

Mr Runciman: Some.

Ms Noble: Some. I'm not saying all, but I'm simply saying some.

In terms of the actual cost comparisons between the two levels -- they're there and they're in the auditor's report -- I think if one actually compares on a strict hours-per-hours basis within the contract, the difference may not be quite so great as the auditor's report indicates. But I recognize that's not the point you're trying to raise.

Mr Runciman: We had that discussion earlier and the auditor assured us that in fact Ontario is still the highest paid.

Ms Noble: I'm not disputing that, and I wasn't going to try to dispute that.

In terms of the question of what is the rationale for it, I think all I can address is to first of all make the point up front that the issue of the establishment of salaries for the correctional officers is not something that is done through the ministry. It is done by Management Board, as the employer for all government staff.

The other comment I would make in terms of salaries is that the pattern of salaries for this particular group, if one looks over the decade that was the subject of the auditor's report, in many instances the settlements are in line with inflation. There have been a couple of instances in that pattern where settlements were higher than inflation substantially. In a couple of instances we had arbitrated settlements, where the issues did go to arbitration and very substantial settlements were handed down by arbitrators. I think to try to look at where we sit today is really to be looking at the cumulative effects of a number of decisions.

Mr Runciman: In essence, are you saying you don't see it as a problem that you have the highest-paid people in Canada?

Ms Noble: I think from our perspective what we would see is that the complexity of the Ontario correction system and what we're dealing with in the Ontario correction system is certainly not a situation where one would argue that the job is dramatically simpler and therefore should be paid dramatically differently. I think arbitrators, if we go back to that, obviously set salaries --

Mr Runciman: I asked you a specific question as the deputy. I gather you are comfortable with it.

Ms Noble: What I'm trying to say is that I think there have been periods where Ontario's been higher than Canada and periods when Canada has been higher than Ontario. Given that salaries to some extent deal with marketplace issues and cost-of-living issues --

Mr Runciman: Okay. You're comfortable with it.

Ms Noble: -- it's not an extraordinary problem.

Mr Runciman: I'll move on to the next question. I've asked you three times and you've said, I guess in a roundabout way, you're comfortable with it.

You, I assume, like other ministries, have internal audits that are done on an annual basis; you have internal auditors?

Ms Noble: Yes, we do.

Mr Runciman: I'm curious: Why don't these kinds of things that the Provincial Auditor has found show up on your internal audits, these kinds of concerns that he's raised, his office has raised? In light of the press reports and the bad publicity your ministry's received in respect to some of these concerns, did you go back over the internal audits and see why these things didn't come to your attention or one of your predecessors' attention?

What I'm saying really is, how effective are these internal audits? The Provincial Auditor has to travel around, he can come back and see you every four or five years. I just question the effectiveness of these things.

Ms Noble: I think in terms of trying to look at an internal audit, when you're looking at a system like corrections, a lot of the internal audit may focus in on specific elements of the system, it may focus in on particular areas of the system and make recommendations to which the ministry responds and then makes changes.

Would we have the internal audit group look at a question such as the salary increases of our staff? That's probably not a subject that an internal audit group would look at, specifically from the point of view that, as I said, the employer for purposes of that is not the ministry; it is in fact --

Mr Runciman: So you're saying none of the topic areas the auditor touched on would be normally looked at by an internal --

Ms Noble: No, that's not what I'm saying. I was using that specific example --

Mr Runciman: I know you're dealing with that one, that's a good one for you to deal with, but let's deal with the ones that would be looked at by an internal auditor.

Ms Noble: In terms of the topics that the auditor raised, many of the issues that we do look at through internal audit, dealing with security, if that comes forward we deal with it. In terms of cost issues in individual institutions and their operations, those are raised and we deal with them.

Mr Runciman: The point is, you're comfortable with the internal audits too. Let's move on to another question. I wonder, from my perspective, if there's a problem in terms of turnover within the ministry. How long have you been the deputy minister?

Ms Noble: I've been the Deputy Minister of Correctional Services since September 1992.

Mr Runciman: On the elected level, there have been at least three ministers in three years. I'm not sure how many deputies, but perhaps the same. To go back to the predecessor government, I think there were at least three ministers, perhaps even more, and I'm not sure about the change over in deputies. Is that a problem? I guess I'm putting you in a tough spot to answer that, but I've often wondered if we shouldn't -- even if it's a shuffle, with cabinet shuffles, deputy shuffles, these things seem to occur too often, in my view. It takes time for people to get to understand their portfolio or to get to understand the responsibilities of deputy and really have a real handle on the operations they're responsible for. I just wonder if you have a view on that or if you feel you can express it. I'm not sure, maybe I'm putting you in a tough spot here.

Ms Noble: I think in some ways you're asking a question that I'm probably not really in a position to answer, given that questions of the assignment of deputy ministers and the assignment of ministers both are decisions that do rest with the government of the day.

Mr Runciman: Right.

Ms Noble: So perhaps I can just leave that one.

Mr Runciman: Okay. That's all for now. Thanks.

The Vice-Chair: We'll go to the government caucus. We have first Mr Mills and then Mr Duignan.

Mr Mills: Thank you, Madam Deputy, for being here this afternoon. I just want to set some records straight, in that in the auditor's report one of the main concerns was staffing costs and in the report it said that Ontario has the highest staff per inmate of all Canadian jurisdictions.

So my first question, to set that straight, is that it's my understanding that the major increases in staffing -- although our government gets blamed for everything, for static cling and even the weather -- did not occur under the present government but occurred in fact between 1985 and 1988.

Further to that, I'd like your comments: Obviously there were some increases in staffing recently. I just want to get your thoughts on the Askov decision and the impact that had on the increase in staffing. If I could hear that.


Ms Noble: Perhaps I could make a couple of comments and then ask Mr McKerrell to comment in more detail. I think certainly if one looks at the increase in staff that has taken place over the period that the auditor examined, the two main contributing factors where there were substantial increases were the YOA implementation that was effective in 1985, and I think we can and should elaborate a little bit about exactly how that impacted and resulted in the need for the increase in staff that was reflected in the ministry totals.

I think, again, with the Askov decision, what we were looking at in corrections was essentially an increase that was our share of an increase in operations that took place throughout the justice system, increases necessary in the court system where there was an augmentation in the number of judges that gave rise to, obviously, increased needs in our part of the operations as the flow-through of offenders through the system was speeded up. Perhaps I can ask, Neil, if you could comment in more detail about both of those items.

Mr McKerrell: There are a number of factors that directly impact on the workload which are essentially beyond our control. As has been mentioned, the decisions that may be taken by other levels of government that impact on the correctional system are beyond our control. As has been mentioned, the addition of police officers for enforcement activities in the community, the addition of judges: They all have a direct impact on correctional institutions. We're simply not in a position to put up a sign on the door saying: "Full. No more room." We have to take whoever comes our way.

In fact, the Askov decision which was referred to resulted in a considerable number of people coming to the system, as did earlier additions of police officers for drug enforcement. The greatest part of that impact was in southern Ontario, where we already had heavy population pressures anyway. So as a result of that, some beds had to be added across southern Ontario, and as a result of adding beds, staff were added.

In addition, we've talked about the increasing number of offenders who are more difficult to handle: people with mental disabilities, people who are developmentally challenged. There's also an increase in the number of people with serious offences, all of which has an impact on the way in which the institutions must operate.

The advent of the YOA itself increased the workload of the ministry very significantly and accounted for an increase of almost 1,000 staff: 900-odd people.

One of the most significant factors in workload and staff-to-inmate ratio is the age of the buildings. You'll recall the deputy, in her opening remarks, made reference to the fact that we almost operate two systems: a system with modern buildings which are very efficient and where the ratios are very good; and then you look at the old institutions that we have. We have in fact 50 places which are all across the province. The age factors of these old buildings -- the oldest is 1825, so you can imagine that the requirements for operating a building that was opened in 1825 are quite different from today.

Mr Callahan: We understand that here. We're going through it with the windows being replaced and all the rest of it.

Mr McKerrell: Yes, exactly. In fact, if it would be of assistance to the members of the committee, we have some material that illustrates the very significant impact of these old buildings on the operation of the institutional services of my division. If that would be of assistance to you, we can provide some graphic demonstration of that.

The Vice-Chair: I think members would be very interested in seeing that material if you could have it distributed this afternoon, if you have it here.

Mr McKerrell: We can do it right now if you like.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you.

Mr Mills: Madam Chair, I still have the floor, I believe, right?

Mr McKerrell: I'm sorry.

Mr Mills: I'd just want to make a point here clear. In the auditor's report, he complains about the costs of per diem rates in other jurisdictions as being much lower than what it costs to run our institutions, but it's my understanding that if you compare the newer establishments vis-à-vis British Columbia or Alberta and what have you, in fact, it's quite the contrary: Ours cost, per diem, less than the average. Is that not right?

Mr McKerrell: Yes, that's right.

Mr Mills: I just want to put some perspective into these arguments, you see.

Mr McKerrell: That's absolutely correct. Our newest institutions are the most cost-effective in the country, bar none.

Mr Mills: Okay. I'm going to talk about the video, which I thought was very instructive and gave a broad overview of what is expected of a correctional officer. I heard some comments there, about what do you do about training? I know, but probably the committee doesn't know: What sort of mandatory training have you got in place for the correctional staff at the present day, like refresher courses? What do you do?

Mr McKerrell: Let me ask John O'Brien to speak to the issue of training. He sits as a member of a committee which is currently reviewing our training program for the correctional services division, not only the institutions but the community as well.

Mr O'Brien: That committee has been working for about nine months and is also looking at the recruitment of line staff as well.

Basic correctional officer training consists of five weeks, both in the institution and at our training college, Bell Cairn in Hamilton. That's followed up every five years by a one-week refresher training program for correctional officers. Within the institution there is ongoing training in areas such as first aid, CPR, the use of security equipment and so on, so that training is virtually continuous for our correctional officers.

Mr Mills: Thank you for that. Is there any sort of special training that you offer -- you know, we show on the video suicides, things like that.

Mr O'Brien: Yes, suicide is covered in both the introductory program for staff and on an ongoing basis. Over and above these programs, there are --


Mr Mills: Be quiet and don't interrupt.

Mr O'Brien: Specially designed courses on anger management, how to control inmate behaviour without the use of physical force, for example, and so on.

Mr Mills: Thank you. I may have another question if time permits, but I'll give the floor to my colleague Mr Duignan.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Duignan.


The Vice-Chair: I'm sorry. I wasn't correcting you; I was just giving the floor to Mr Duignan.

Mr Duignan: I think I'll get my name changed.

Mr Callahan: I have trouble with it because he's not in my caucus, but you should be able to say it.

Mr Duignan: I have, of course, a major correctional facility in my riding, Maplehurst. I'm indeed very familiar with some of the many problems that are associated with a correctional institute.

However, I want to focus a little bit on the corporate objectives of the Ministry of Correctional Services. They are to assure the protection and security of society and to motivate offenders towards positive personal change.

Last week we had the Ministry of Education in here and we took a look at special education and a couple of other areas in the ministry. The ministry sets aside a certain amount of money to the institutes for people to advance their education: high school education or whatever the case is. I was wondering if you have the figures available. How much money does go forward from the Ministry of Education to your ministry for education upgrade in the institutions? Do you have a breakdown of that amount of money per institution and do you have an idea of the number of people participating in further education from those institutes?

Mr McKerrell: I don't believe we have that information available today, but we can attempt to get it for you over the course of the next couple of days.

Mr Duignan: That would be very appreciated if you could.

Again, a concern was expressed last week: Since we have basically a zero tolerance of violence in our schools at this point in time -- I notice there was a grade 13 student sentenced yesterday because of that and another one is due next week; there have been three like that very recently -- I was wondering what type of mechanism the Ministry of Correctional Services is putting into place. These are students, these are kids, maybe anywhere from 16 to 18 or 19, who have obviously not completed a high school education etc. What arrangements have been put into place by the ministry of corrections to make sure that these students will at least continue to receive some education and possibly finish their high school diploma?


Ms Noble: Perhaps I could just make an introductory comment. As a ministry, we're working with the Ministry of Education and Training as it proceeds with the implementation of its initiative. One of the things would be to deal with the question that there may be students who may be removed from the school system in accordance with the policy of the board around any act they've undertaken, and that therefore they are no longer eligible to be back in the school system. It is not necessarily so that they would then be charged. Some may be; some may not be. In other words, the removal from school does not necessarily mean they would be charged --

Mr Duignan: I'm aware of that, but the question was about those people who are charged. I understand one has been sentenced yesterday, one a week or two before and I think another one during a week or so. What are you putting into place to make sure those students still get a continuing education?

Ms Noble: What we're looking at there is that the provisions we do have in place for education for young offenders would be the kind of program that would be continuing. It would be there to support them as young offenders within the institution. The fact that the situation of those particular individuals, knowing that there was a disruption to an educational program -- many of our other young offenders may also, as a result of being charged for whatever offence, be disrupting an educational program, so we do have teaching facilities in the institutions to try and continue those programs.

Mr Duignan: Would that be a recommendation on the intake, that they would have to continue their education, or if they didn't want to do it, that they simply wouldn't follow through on it?

Ms Noble: The question of "have to" I would leave to John to answer. Certainly, the system is there and available and there are classes available for the young people in those YO facilities.

Mr O'Brien: Initially, we would check with the community school they were in to obtain records of their achievements and so on. It's virtually impossible to force someone to go to school against their will. However, we do try to encourage them and I think we have a very high success rate in actually getting them in, because we have very low student-teacher ratios. In some cases, exceptional cases, an individual teacher will work with an individual pupil and in cooperation with other professional staff, they work through whatever personal problems the young person is bringing to the classroom.

Mr McKerrell: If I can just add a little bit beyond that, what's been described is if the individual is a young offender, 16 to 18 years of age, but if you have a young adult, over the age of 18 -- you made reference to Maplehurst Correctional Centre in your own riding. It has a very extensive educational program. In fact, it's the premier educational facility for the regular type of correctional inmates in Ontario. People are encouraged through the classification process to avail themselves of educational opportunities, either by correspondence assisted by teachers or right in the classroom setting at Maplehurst.

Mr Duignan: I notice that in the audit of 1987, at that time you had no measure in place to indicate the repetitive nature of the prisoners going back into the system. I notice that in 1992 the audit found that this system was still not being used for this purpose. I was wondering why the delay for six years, why nothing was done for six years. Are we still going to wait for another six years for this to be achieved?

Mr McKerrell: I was going to ask if the question related to recidivism. The recidivism is only one measure, I guess, of the progress of the organization. We don't look at corrections as an end in itself, especially given that we have people for a very short period of time. What we try to do is present an opportunities model to people so that they can take advantage of chances to improve themselves while they're with us, and hopefully get them started so that they will continue in the community. This applies in a whole range of things, including the education we just talked about.

The problems, of course, with the inmate population are multifold. The deputy mentioned in her remarks at the outset that many of them have below-average levels of education, are underemployed and so forth, so we have a range of programs where we try to encourage people to improve their life skills, their educational skills and so forth for the limited time we have them.

Mr Duignan: In a survey, 67% of the superintendents responding to that survey concerning the ability of the ministry to effect positive personal change said that either their institutions were not effective or just simply did not know. Would it be a fair comment to simply say that we're not really motivating offenders towards positive personal change at all?

Mr McKerrell: I think it's a gradual process. There are two issues there.

Mr Duignan: How can you be gradual when the average stay is three months, six months?

Mr McKerrell: It's gradual in that you may get progress by increments as opposed to an outright cessation of lawbreaking activity.

Mr Duignan: So you have to work on them each time they come back; is that the case?

Mr McKerrell: Potentially. If they don't come back, do we know that it was our intervention that was successful in preventing them from coming back? We have no authority, no mandate to pursue them in the community once the warrant has expired. We have no means and no legal authority to follow up and see what happens when a person leaves. If they don't come back to us, we can certainly claim the credit for improving; whether it's valid or not would be another matter.

Mr Duignan: Of course, they could be in another jurisdiction.

Mr McKerrell: That's possible.

Mr Duignan: For example, do you share that information between other jurisdictions?

Mr McKerrell: There's an element of sharing information between jurisdictions. It just depends what it is. The police information network, the computer network keeps track of where people have been in terms of their criminal record. If someone is brought into custody here in Ontario, once we get their incarceration report from the RCMP we then know where they have been. If we want to follow up, then we can make contact with that jurisdiction. We ask inmates upon admission about their criminal history. It's a self-reporting mechanism, but they will often tell us quite candidly that they've been in X, Y or Z place and we can make contact to follow up, as the case may be.

Mr Duignan: I would want to pursue another line of questioning but I don't think I've got time.

The Vice-Chair: There are only about two minutes left. Mr Mills did mention he had another question.

Mr Mills: Thank you, Madam Chair. I don't want, at this stage of the committee, to get in with some in-depth thoughts and discussions that I have on a number of issues, but given the fact that this committee is being televised on the parliamentary channel, and given the fact that I know there's considerable interest in this, when we talk about the cost per diem of the modern jails vis-à-vis the ones like Barrie Jail, which I know personally as a very old institution --

Mr Callahan: Is this a testimonial or what?

Mr Mills: I'm not saying it's as old as me. I know it, as our friend there knows. As they're looking into this, it begs the question, if we can save so much money there, what the dickens are we keeping all these old ones open for? I don't want to get into that debate, but it seems to me that would be an obvious reaction for the public: If we can save so much money, why aren't we doing it in that way? I know that it's not as simple as that.

Mr McKerrell: We can certainly respond to that if there's time.

Mr Mills: A couple of minutes.


Mr Kurt Jensen: My name is Kurt Jensen. I'm the manager, analysis and support, Correctional Services division. There's been information passed out to you which compares Ontario to other jurisdictions, and the locations where Ontario facilities are located, their age, their capacities and a bunch of floor plans. That was a whole discussion around the efficiencies of institutions and staffing ratios. I don't know if you want me to go into that discussion now or just answer this specific question.

Mr Mills: I think maybe we could keep it brief, because I know this is going to be a major discussion in the next two days.

Mr Jensen: There are a number of reasons we wouldn't just go out and close small jails, the first of which is related to the fact that they provide a remand service to those local jurisdictions. If you closed the jail in Fort Frances, that means the police would have to spend the time driving to a regional detention centre, maybe in Kenora or someplace else, and you'd end up taking resources out of what the police have available to use to police their communities.

Certainly, you'd have an economic impact on those communities that are small communities and where an institution is a major employer within that community. You'd have to consider what the impact on the staff who work in the institution is going to be. You'd have to consider the impact on those people who regularly visit inmates: lawyers, relatives, friends, volunteer people and all kinds of other people who come to visit. They would be subject to travelling greater distances. Finally, you'd have to consider the capital costs of building new regional detention centres at between $60,000 and $100,000 per bed.

The Vice-Chair: We'll go to the Liberal caucus. We'll start with Mr Murphy and then Mr Offer.

Mr Tim Murphy (St George-St David): My perspective on this is really to talk about effective monitoring techniques by the ministry. That's obviously what the auditor was focusing on in the report. I'd like to start on the sick day usage issue that he raised. He cited a survey response at one institution where there was an average of 30 sick days leave per employee. That is essentially a month and a half, which is incredible, ranging down to the best, 4.5 days, which is a much more reasonable amount.

The concern I have is really how the ministry monitors this and ensures that institutions have a reasonable attendance record. Obviously, there seems to be a fair degree of sick leave taken on weekend days and there is a high cost associated with this because the security provisions require that these people be replaced and that someone serve in their stead.

I'm wondering, first off, if the ministry has an analysis by institution of the number of sick days taken over the last three years.

Mr Tom Watson: My name is Tom Watson. I am the superintendent of the Ontario Correctional Institute.

Mr Murphy: How are you?

Mr Watson: Not too bad, sir.

Mr Murphy: Good.

Mr Watson: I've been designated to respond to your questions with regard to this particular area. The whole aspect of attendance is a complicating factor. I've been in the correctional services for over 26 years, I've been a superintendent for 20 years, and it's always been a problematic issue to deal with.

I think the first thing we have to understand is the benefit package that is available to each employee. Currently, in the Ontario government and in our particular ministry --

Mr Murphy: No.

Mr Watson: You don't want to know that?

Mr Murphy: I don't want to interrupt but actually I was looking for a specific answer, which is whether you just have that information, the number of sick days by institution for the last three years.

Mr Watson: We do have the number of sick days by institution over the last three years, for each one.

Mr Murphy: Do you have that here? Can you provide it now to the committee?

Ms Noble: We don't have the information on that basis with us here. What we do have available, though we'd have to get it, with us are statistics on the last three quarters of last year and the year prior, which we had brought with us particular to the comments of the auditor. We don't have copies for all the committee members at the moment, but we could make that available.

Mr Murphy: Sure. That will be fine. I don't need it right now, but if you can provide it to me tomorrow, that's fine.

The Vice-Chair: If you have the information with you, we can ask the clerk to have copies made and distributed.

Ms Noble: Yes. Why don't we continue and I'll just --

Mr Murphy: I'll leave it to you.

To be fair, there's obviously going to be a variety of reasons why you have variations in attendance records at different institutions. Obviously, the age of the institution may itself be a factor, because you're going to have great differences in conditions at the institutions, which will reflect on everything from health to stress levels etc.

But as I said in my opening, my concern is monitoring from the ministry perspective, ensuring that some standards are there and that those are upheld by the institution. Is there an analysis by the ministry of why there's a variation in those attendance records and what the reasons are behind high levels at some institutions? It may be that there are entirely valid reasons behind those high levels. There may have been a riot, whatever it is, but I'm wondering if you have an analysis.

Mr Watson: We have figures, and it would be a matter of what we call an attendance review program at each institution. The difficulty is that there are different sets of programs in each of the 50 institutions. There's never been a generic model applied across all the institutions to deal with it. In the sense of monitoring, yes, the figures are calculated. They are sent up to the main office from each institution, so the figures are known. A lot of it is left to the devices of the individual superintendents to deal with that particular issue, depending on the variables of what's happening with his employee group.

Mr Murphy: My concern, though, and the deputy talked about it earlier, is the best-practice model. We spent a lot of time last week in public accounts talking to the deputy of Education about best practices across the system and about the need to share that information. The auditor pointed to one institution, the one that had the lowest level of sick days taken and the highest attendance record at 4.5 days, and pointed to the fact that there was an excellent monitoring system of attendance and that they followed through the step-by-step disciplinary approach to follow it up. I'm wondering whether the ministry's done a best-practice analysis, has applied the lessons from that to other institutions and requested those other institutions to follow up on the lessons learned from that one.

Mr Watson: Yes. We have developed a committee, of which I am a member, that has analysed all the --

Mr Murphy: But a committee doesn't ask quite specific questions, and the fact of a committee -- I don't mean to put you on the spot. I know you've established the committee. It may be that you're in the process of doing what I just asked, and that's fine, but to this date that hasn't happened.

Ms Noble: If I could just respond, I think what we indicated to the auditor in our response on this issue was that we were in the process, and we are still in the process. At this point in time, we have not yet reached conclusions about the model or models we would like to see. We have, however, identified the need to do so. Therefore, we are in an in-progress stage with respect to this particular project, and we can go back to that in a little more detail. What we are aiming for is to have this work completed in the spring in such a way that we can then start with the new year, dealing with the individual institutions to move forward to implement the best practices coming forward out of the review.

As I'd indicated this morning, what has emerged in the more recent past is a discussion that has taken place with the bargaining agents, who have themselves some issues and concerns about factors in the institutions that may be giving rise to concerns around attendance. I'm not in a position to be more definitive on this particular element because it is in the formative discussion stages, but we are having some discussions to try and look at those factors on a joint basis with them. We very much would look forward to that, because obviously, if we can be working with them in addressing some of those underlying factors, that will be very helpful to us in terms of trying to manage the issue.

Mr Murphy: So you're in the middle of the monitoring process of practices in the institutions. Do you have a date when that monitoring process will be completed?

Ms Noble: I could speak to the project team here. Spring is what we're aiming for.


Mr Murphy: Back to you, superintendent.

Mr Watson: We've met several times. We've reviewed each institution's model setup, taken the best from the process, put it forward, and it's going to go to what we call divisional management committee, led by our chair, to present the model. That group has to make a decision whether the committee's work is in the right direction or not. We're assuming it would be done, as the deputy has alluded to, in early spring. Once it's approved, we then would implement it.

Mr Murphy: Thank you for that. A voter's going to turn around, someone in my riding is going to say, "Okay, I read about the Provincial Auditor saying there was a sick leave problem and I want you to fix it on my behalf." What can I go and tell my constituent? When is it going to be fixed?

Mr McKerrell: Our objective is to have that by the end of the fiscal year, which is March 31. If we can have it ready before then, that will be fine.

Mr Murphy: That's the model. That's the review that's going to be done.

Mr McKerrell: No, that's the model selected --

Mr Murphy: And the model decided upon? Okay.

Mr McKerrell: -- and ready to be implemented for April 1. That's my objective.

Mr Murphy: Implementation is going to mean you're going to pick a model and you're going to send that out to the institutions and say, "Follow this model"?

Mr McKerrell: Precisely.

Mr Murphy: You're going to tell them to follow the model?

Mr McKerrell: Oh, yes.

Mr Murphy: How are we doing for time?

The Vice-Chair: Your caucus has about 11 minutes left.

Mr Murphy: I'll have a few more and then I'll pass it on.

I want to follow up on Mr Duignan's comment on the objectives of the ministry, the "motivating offenders towards positive personal change," as it's phrased. The Provincial Auditor talked about whether recidivism was an effective measure in the system, and you started to talk about some of those problems, about the short stays in the institution, the difficulty in monitoring the transfer to other jurisdictions and even outside the province, and up, I suppose, in the province, as well into the federal system because of committing more serious offences.

If most people say, "What are jails supposed to do?" the classic answer is it rehabilitates the inmate and deters others, and if we can't tell them ultimately whether it does that, that's a basic question we're not answering very well. Your job is difficult because of the old line that sometimes when you're up to your behind in alligators, it's difficult to remember you're there to drain the swamp. I think that might apply sometimes in this context.

Mr Callahan: I've never heard that line before.

Mr Murphy: There are variations on it.

You say the average stay for males was 76, I believe, and for females 57, and this is a total. If you took the number of days inmates were in the institutions and averaged it out to an inmate-year calculation, do you have the total number of inmates in an institution on an inmate-year calculation?

Mr McKerrell: The total number of inmates?

Mr Murphy: On an inmate-year calculation. Do you understand what I'm asking?

Mr McKerrell: We have the total number of admissions and then we have a whole lot of totals that we cover: admissions as opposed to individuals, the days stayed and so on and so forth, depending on what it is you are actually --

Mr Murphy: I guess what I'm trying to say is, in the federal system they can say, "We have 10,000 inmates," which can pretty well mean they have more or less a constant number of 10,000 a year, whereas you have -- I don't know how many. What is it, 20,000 that flow through?

Mr McKerrell: We would have in excess of 50,000 people who actually flow through our doors in the course of a year.

Mr Murphy: But if that turned into one person staying there for a year, how many people staying there for a year is that?

Ms Noble: I'm not sure that we --

Mr Murphy: You may not even collect that number.

Ms Noble: We don't have the number, obviously, at the tip of our tongues. One of the differences, and I just sort of make note of it, is that the federal system is essentially dealing with sentenced inmates.

Mr Murphy: Oh, you have the remands and --

Ms Noble: In other words, when people darken their doors, they're there for a stay --

Mr Murphy: Exactly.

Ms Noble: -- whereas as I was saying earlier this morning, up to a third of ours on any given day are in fact remand. In order for us to come back to the number you are asking about, we'd have to look at the average number of sentenced inmates during a year and then take that as a factor in relationship to the length of sentence. We can certainly do that and come back to you with the number.

Mr Murphy: I don't want to put you through hours of work. If that's an easy number to get --

Ms Noble: If we can't do it, I'll let you know, but we can certainly take a try. But we do need to take out of the numbers we have those who are there on remand.

Mr Murphy: You said at some point, and I may have noted it incorrectly, but I thought you said that Ontario has a higher percentage than other provinces sentencing to probation as opposed to incarceration. Is that correct?

Ms Noble: In the auditor's report, comparisons were drawn with Alberta, and it was specifically in comparison with Alberta. We certainly have those numbers. For instance, in Quebec the same thing would hold. They have a lower percentage than we do in probation from a sentencing perspective. If you're interested in having that information across all jurisdictions, we can get that for you. The source of the information is the federal Centre for Justice Statistics.

Mr Murphy: It was within the last month or two that there have been news reports about sentencing characteristics across the country, I believe. Is that the report to which you're referring? Does it come from that?

Ms Noble: It was given to me as an extract. Whether it's exactly out of that report or not, it's certainly covering that same time period.

Mr Murphy: If you have that report, I wouldn't mind if you could provide a copy to the committee.

Ms Noble: You're looking for a copy of the federal sentencing report?

Mr Murphy: Yes.

Ms Noble: I'll certainly check.

Mr Murphy: As it relates to the kinds of statistics you were mentioning. If it's another document, I'd like that document.

Ms Noble: I will check two things: One is to get you the information I was referring to that I have, and secondly, I will check with our people to see if we have a copy of the report that we can make available.

Mr Murphy: I have many questions to follow up and I have other members who want to speak. I want to ask one specific question. The Syl Apps facility: Are 16- to 17-year-olds put in the same cottage as 12- to 15-year-olds? Mr Jackson made that allegation yesterday and I was very surprised that this was the case.

Ms Noble: It would be an extremely exceptional case, I think --

Mr Murphy: I could not see it.

Ms Noble: -- if anything like that happened, because Syl Apps is operated by the Ministry of Community and Social Services for the under-16s and it's not some place we would be referring clients from our system.

Mr Murphy: That was my reaction too. I thought that was entirely unlikely.

Mr Callahan: You won the bet.

Mr Murphy: I won the bet, as Mr Callahan says.

I'm going to have to turn it over, but I will have more in the next rotation.

Ms Noble: Either that or you'll be back to us with more detailed information.

Mr Murphy: Yes.

The Vice-Chair: The last five minutes for Mr Offer.

Mr Steven Offer (Mississauga North): I don't think I will be using all of the five minutes.

I want to deal with the issue of the sick leave. We have, through legislative research, a recap from the Provincial Auditor which speaks about a survey that has indicated an average of 30 days sick leave per employee. It reads that in eight institutions, the number of sick days ranged from 4.5 to over 20 days per correctional officer. My first question is, based on that, do you agree with that assertion?

Ms Noble: In terms of the specific facts that the auditor's report contained?

Mr Offer: Yes.

Ms Noble: We're not disputing the facts. There is one institution that did in fact have sick days at the 30 days. We also have the example of the institution at the lower end. There is information that I think is going to be distributed. The material speaks specifically to 1992-93 averages over the 12 months for that year, which would be April 1, 1992, to March 31, 1993. The second set of numbers deals with 1993 -- sorry, I'm misleading the committee. But the averages are lower.


Mr Offer: My next question is on the information which has just been provided, and it speaks in two accounting years. It breaks each group down to bargaining and to management, and it particularizes each facility. At the bottom of the page it talks about "Institutions Average Total." What I will read as 1992-93 has the bargaining unit at 11.68 and management at 9.09. Do I take that to be days?

Ms Noble: Yes.

Mr Offer: The question I have is, what is the bargaining unit arrangement on the issue of sick leave?

Mr Watson: Specifically, what do you mean by arrangements?

Mr Offer: What is in the working contract?

Mr Watson: They are allowed six days with full pay each calendar year plus an additional 124 days beyond the six days in a calendar year. If they were having a long-term illness, they would then go into what we call a long-term income protection plan which is funded by an insurance company which they have to make application for and which could go on for ever.

Mr Offer: There are in the chart which you have provided examples of sick leave: an average of 23.29, 30.56, 20.46, 18.46 days. Have you looked into the cause of such sick leave requests?

Mr Watson: Yes. The issue would reflect, depending on how many people in that particular institution -- of course, the figures can get skewed if you're dealing with a small number of staff versus a larger institution with a larger staff. A lot of it has to do with people -- all you'd have to do is have five or six people in one institution with a long-term illness, take their full 130 days, then lead into the long-term income protection process. You take those figures and put them into the average and that's what expands those numbers in those particular institutions.

Mr Offer: The other examples are 17.91 days, 10.02 days, ll days, 13 days. Are those, in your opinion, skewed figures?

Mr Watson: They're not skewed in those particular ones. Some institutions are higher than others and a lot of it is that a lot of factors come into play.

Mr Offer: The question I have is along the same lines of Mr Murphy's question. A lot of people would take a look at sick leave and wonder how it is that on average, even keeping in mind long-term situations, there would be such a high average. They understand the need to take a look at these things, to implement new systems and things of this nature, but I think the general public would expect some answer to, how come such a high figure?

Mr Watson: There are a lot of factors that come into play, shift work being one.

Mr Offer: How does shift work come into this?

Mr Watson: That's particularly why we've gone into some compressed-work issues with the OPSEU members, to try to give them more weekends off. Shift work has a proven impact on the factor of people not sleeping right at nights. They come off and it's difficult to go through the process. The population we are dealing with are not always healthy people. They contact a lot of issues from them. Those are some of the similarities that come up to the rationalization for the uses of it. The other thing is that it's a difficult issue to question an employee on. The employee does not welcome it when I as a manager question the person, "Why were you off 10 days?" even through the attendance review process that we have, because they feel that they were sick, that they were entitled to be off, that they have this as a benefit, so why would I as a manager question them?

Mr Offer: I guess then --

The Vice-Chair: Mr Offer, I apologize for interrupting but your five minutes are gone and then a few extra, so I think we'll move to Mr Runciman and the Conservative caucus.


Mr Runciman: Another long-winded politician. Mr Mills raised this issue and I was just reading a press report on the auditor's report with respect to the per diem costs. I'd like to know what the difference is. I guess this would be to the deputy. We've heard several references now to the per diem costs being the lowest in Canada. I think you made reference to that, or someone did. I know Mr Mills did.

The story talks about per inmate costs. Ontario's spending is nearly double what's spent in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, the provinces with the lowest cost per inmate. I'm just wondering, what's the distinction here with per diem costs versus per inmate costs? I know you've been using this to justify your costs in the per diem element, but which is more relevant for our consideration, per diem or per inmate?

Ms Noble: Certainly from our perspective, the manner in which we normally talk about the costs would be on the per diem basis in the sense of what we're looking -- it's very difficult to take some costs and break those down and attribute them to individual inmates, so consequently what is the normal practice is to look at the cost of the operation of the institution for a period of time and look at the number of inmate days that take place during that period of time, and then use that as a basis of examining comparative costs. From a practice point of view, that is one we would be looking at, in terms of how we deal with it.

Mr Runciman: Madam Chair, I don't know if this is procedurally correct, but I would like to hear the auditor's response to that because I know, certainly in the news stories, they were talking about per inmate costs and the auditor has raised it in terms of bringing it to the public's attention. I am wondering if he accepts what the deputy is saying, that perhaps a more relevant or more appropriate analysis is looking at it from the perspective of per diem, versus per inmate. Is it appropriate to ask that question?

The Vice-Chair: First of all, procedurally, Mr Runciman, there's no problem at any time for a member asking the auditor to respond.

Mr Peters: I certainly agree with the deputy that the per diem costs would be more relevant, largely because the denominator can be more easily determined. We have strange averages. If you get per diem, 68.3 days, how do you measure the half day and how do you charge it? So the denominator, the per diem -- I'm not sure -- I think you're referring to a Globe and Mail article on December 8.

Mr Runciman: Yes, that's right.

Mr Peters: Actually, it's rather surprising. I almost had a feeling when I looked at that article that they may have made a printing error. They say "average daily cost per inmate."

Mr Runciman: Yes.

Mr Peters: It's actually the same thing; it's the per diem per inmate, so it's the per diem. I think the deputy and we are saying the same thing and the newspaper article is talking about the same thing. We are saying that to run that institute, that by the total number of clients handled, it's per diem.

Mr Runciman: In your report, you have a graph showing average daily costs per inmate by province, 1991-92, showing the Ontario costs at $140. If you don't think that's a relevant yardstick for us to use, or the public to use, why did you bother having a graph chart in your report? Why did you draw it to the attention? Why didn't you solely deal with per diems?

Mr Peters: Oh, sorry. We may just be on a semantic. To me, daily costs means per diem.

Mr Runciman: Okay, then we have a difference of opinion here, because we're hearing from the ministerial staff that they have the best per diem costs in the country and your chart says -- we're talking about apples and apples here -- they have the highest.

Mr Peters: Yes, they do. Perhaps you wouldn't mind taking a look at the chart on page 159.

Mr Runciman: I just have the research provided by the researcher.

Mr Peters: Oh, sorry, I'm referring directly to my report.

Mr Runciman: I don't have a copy of it.

Interjection: It's on page 7.

Mr Peters: It's attached to your document.

Mr Runciman: That's the one I have, page 7, yes.

Mr Peters: It says on the left-hand side "per diem."

Ms Noble: In terms of the statement that the ministry is making, just as an attempt to clarify, the diagram or the chart that appears in the audit report takes into account the full range of facilities we have here in Ontario. The $140 per diem in fact reflects the per diem across both the newer and efficient institutions and the older and much more costly institutions. It is an average across the whole system. The point the ministry's been attempting to make is that for our newer institutions --

Mr Runciman: Okay, I misunderstood you.

Ms Noble: -- that the per diem for the new institutions is a very cost-effective one, comparatively speaking. The older institutions are what brings up the provincial average.


Mr Peters: Correct. That's the very point. Mr Mills raised that question originally. We acknowledge that in our report, incidentally.

Mr Runciman: Is that a fair comment, though, if we're using these statistics on a comparative basis, that if we looked at the other provinces in terms of what the deputy is saying about newer facilities and so on -- you haven't looked at that, I guess.

Mr Peters: Yes, we have looked at that. We've specifically pointed out also that within Ontario, the newer institutions in Ontario are actually run at a cost below the per diem. I think the paper turned our chart sideways. We are running at $96 per diem. In other words, Ontario is actually running, in its newer institutions, below the national average, and it's running extremely high above the national average for the old institutions, some of which are 124 years old. I think one was built in 1820.

Mr Runciman: Thanks for that. Another element of this: Again, I'm drawing this from a Globe and Mail story, which may be a mistake, but they're talking about how one of the justifications from the ministry was that the health and safety issues meant that five additional employees were needed at each institution. What specifically are we talking about in terms of health and safety issues? Was this Bill 208 or was there some legislative requirement that mandated the hiring of five additional employees at each institution?

Mr McKerrell: The occupational health and safety factors are related to increasing concerns that correctional staff had for their safety back in the late 1980s. As a result of the occupational health and safety legislation itself, there were some issues there, but the occupational health and safety reference that we make is primarily to the safety considerations of staff which were raised in 1989.

Mr Runciman: These were internal considerations, though? You weren't required by any act passed by government to have additional people on for health and safety reasons?

Mr McKerrell: We had a strike to help encourage us.

Mr Runciman: So as part of the settlement, you agreed to hire additional people.

Mr McKerrell: As part of the settlement, it was recognized that there were some problems that had to be addressed, and part of that resulted in some additional staff being added.

Mr Runciman: Was that the result of an arbitrator's award or was that a negotiated settlement through the strike process?

Mr McKerrell: It was negotiated.

Mr Runciman: Okay. We talk about health and safety, and this sort of leads into a question with respect to the concern about HIV in the provincial institutions. I know that concern has been raised, and we talked about mandatory testing. What's going on with respect to that, isolation of these individuals and that sort of thing?

Mr McKerrell: If you'll allow me to bring Dr Humphries forward, he'll speak to that.

Dr Humphries: Mr Runciman, our steps in this area have actually been a process started in April 1985, when we admitted our first potential HIV candidate to the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.

Mr Runciman: How did you identify him as a potential candidate?

Dr Humphries: He came in with that knowledge ahead of time and we had him checked out with an internist in Ottawa, sir. Needless to say, it created a fair bit of concern among our staff. It led to us developing a policy with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union later that year, an information booklet which was sent out to all our staff, both at administration and bargaining.

That continued through until about March or April 1989, because facts were changing so rapidly at that time that it was almost impossible to send out anything that would remain up to date for more than two weeks. At that time, we came out with our new communicable disease policy, which involved all communicable diseases, with emphasis on AIDS and hepatitis B.

Mr Runciman: This has been in effect since 1985?

Dr Humphries: Since 1989. The policy in essence says that if an individual is really significantly ill and needs admission to a hospital setting, they will be admitted. If they're significantly ill but don't require admission to a hospital setting, they will be placed in or close to the medical unit of the institution. If they don't require either of those situations, but they have a special need, such as an active drug user or an active homosexual, then they will be placed in a special needs unit. If they have none of those, they will be placed in the general population.

We taught all our staff on general infection control measures and good hygienic practices -- we use the buzzwords "universal precautions" -- and provided them with all the necessary equipment and trained them.

Mr Runciman: So for example, there's no testing done when someone enters an institution to determine whether they are a carrier or have AIDS. When someone's in the general population and has some sort of a seizure, for example, your staff really have no knowledge, so you're saying they have to approach this person as if they were a potential carrier.

Dr Humphries: Absolutely.

Mr Runciman: If there's mouth-to-mouth resuscitation required, there are certain steps they have to take and so on.

Dr Humphries: Yes, and they carry special little mouthpieces that they can use for that purpose and there are special masks that are in each of the modules with disposable mouthpieces and one-way valves.

Mr Runciman: What about restraining someone, when they get into a difficult situation and blood could be mixed? I guess what I'm getting to here is your own view, Doctor, about the whole question of testing inmates.

Dr Humphries: I think it would be absolutely marvellous if we could test the way we do for tuberculosis. We can't because of legal requirements right now, but secondly and probably more importantly --

Mr Runciman: Are these charter requirements you're talking about, a violation of their rights?

Dr Humphries: Yes, absolutely, a violation of their rights.

Mr Runciman: How do you know that? Has this ever been tested by the courts?

Dr Humphries: Not that I know of.

Mr Runciman: So it's a question of being --

Dr Humphries: Careful on our part.

Mr Runciman: But I suppose the employees would say you're not being careful enough with their safety.

Dr Humphries: Yes, but more importantly, I think we could seriously consider going in that direction if we thought it would do the trick, but we think it might make the place less safe because of the window period. As you probably are aware, the positive tests won't show up for approximately six weeks to six months, so if an individual came in and was positive but did not show up positive, then our people might get quite careless. We have to assume that everyone has it.

Mr Runciman: I don't accept that as an adequate argument to not test. There's also a responsibility if you're putting these people back out on to the street and you have really no knowledge of whether they're carriers or not, and I guess there's also the question of transmission within the institution. I know you've done some things, I gather supplying them with condoms and so on. I just wonder how much of a problem that is. I think the public at large, when you read that inmates in a correctional facility are being provided with condoms, I guess most of us are pretty naïve. You wonder about the kinds of activities that occur there and I suppose there are some limitations on what you can or cannot do in terms of controlling the activities of occupants, but is that a real problem within provincial institutions?

Dr Humphries: I don't believe so. I would not for a minute deny that kinds of sexual activity probably take place, but I think, and I have no question about this from a medical point of view --


Dr Humphries: From a medical point of view, I have to support the idea of having condoms and dental dams available, because here we are, a medical community preaching the safety of latex condoms and everyone should use it, da-da, da-da, da-da, so why would we not make it available internally?

Mr Runciman: I applaud that, but I think that at the same time, if you have that concern, you should be advocating the other concern you have, but perhaps on a stronger basis, in terms of mandatory testing. I'm in support of that.

Dr Humphries: But you see, if our average stay is less than 80, which for the most part we've established --

Mr Runciman: Still, there's a public concern here too. The stay may be less, but those results are going to come in. Then you'll know and at least that person can be alerted, and others can be alerted in respect to that individual.

Dr Humphries: Not necessarily because our average stay is less than 80 but the test may not show positive to beyond six months.

Mr Runciman: Oh, I see.

Dr Humphries: Do you follow me?

Mr Runciman: Sure.

Dr Humphries: So we're probably going to miss the majority. Our people are going to say it's only the ones that we know of are infected but we might be missing --

Mr Runciman: Better than nothing though, isn't it?

Dr Humphries: Yes.

Mr Runciman: How much time left?

The Vice-Chair: You have four more minutes.

Mr Runciman: I'll give it to Mr Jordan.


Mr Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): I would like to refer to the older jails or centres. You seem to be putting a lot of your cause of high costs on these smaller units. Have you identified just what sector of that smaller unit is so inefficient that it could raise the cost of operation to the extent you indicated to us?

Mr McKerrell: Yes. That's very straightforward to demonstrate and I'll ask Kurt Jensen to outline it for you.

Mr Jensen: In the information I handed out just a few minutes ago, in addition to the type of facilities that we have and where they're located and their age and capacity, there are also some charts in there that show floor plans of three institutions.

One of them is the Fort Frances Jail which has a capacity for 20 inmates but usually runs, on average, about 10 just because of its geographic location.

The second is a living unit at the Metropolitan Toronto West Detention Centre which has 40 inmates in it, and that unit is actually part of a floor of the Toronto west detention centre. So there are actually three of these units on each floor in the Toronto west detention centre.

The third drawing is two floors from the Barrie Jail, which also has a capacity of 120 inmates, the same as the Metro west detention centre.

To supervise 10 inmates at the Fort Frances Jail you need two staff to provide for their daily living needs, to give them toilet paper, to take requests, to pass food in to them, to do cleanup, all the normal kinds of activities that they would deal with or interact with inmates on on a day-to-day basis.

Those same two staff are able to supervise and carry out those duties for 40 inmates at the Toronto west detention centre, and six staff can do that for 120 inmates, because of the way the Toronto west detention centre is laid out. It's a much newer building. It was built in 1977, and the Barrie Jail, if you look at the floor plans of the Barrie Jail -- that's the one that's like this; there are two of them there.

You can see from the configuration there that the cell areas are spread out over two floors and they're very small cellular units. What that means is that to look after the 120 inmates for those same needs at the Barrie Jail takes seven staff during days and afternoons. The real difference, or an even more pronounced difference, comes in on the midnight shift when two staff supervise 120 inmates at Metro west and two staff still supervise 10 inmates at Fort Frances and four staff are required to supervise the 120 inmates at the Barrie Jail.

Since 25 of our 50 institutions fall within that small-jail category, that really has an impact on that staff-to-inmate ratio, probably two and a half times that of our newer facilities.

Mr Jordan: I noticed on your list that there are 12 older units out of the 50 or so that you listed. I'm gathering from what you say on these drawings that even though the outside structure and the architecture are in good condition, it wouldn't be feasible to redesign the interior.

Mr Jensen: No. Most of them are built out of three-foot limestone walls. As a matter of fact, I started my career at the Milton jail. It was spread out over three separate areas and the whole thing had a capacity of 36 inmates and we had three staff assigned to do the kinds of duties that two staff would do for 40 inmates at Metro west. There really is architecturally no way to make them much better from supervisory points of view.

The real impact is that if you have people locked in their cells, you have to have somebody there in case of emergency, for health and safety both for staff and for inmates. If your units are spread out and they're separated by sound and lines of sight, then you need a certain number of staff to be able to provide that level of safety. In the old places, it's very difficult to do that without having more staff than in the newer places.

Mr Jordan: I notice also that relative to the smaller unit the number of days sick leave is quite a bit less than in the larger units, and I notice the management sick leave is higher than the union staff in the smaller units. Is that related to stress or personnel, I wonder, or is anyone --

Mr Jensen: Part of it has to do just with the number of people you have to draw from. The management staff in a small jail is comprised of six people. The management staff at the Metro West detention centre might be comprised of 40 people. If one of those five people is off for an extended period of sickness, then that would certainly skew the average sick days in that institution.

At the Toronto west detention centre, there are almost 300 staff, so even if five or six of them are off for an extended period of time, the others kind of even out the average, whereas in a small jail, you have an average of 18 correctional officers in most small jails, plus you have six supervisory staff. You don't have to have very many people who are sick for a very long time before you start to skew the average attendance figures.

Mr McKerrell: Also, the managers in those smaller institutions tend to be older because of the stability of employment and so forth, so genuine health factors come in.

Mr Jordan: So the real loss of efficiency is the relationship of staff, then, to the inmates that you require, in numbers, I mean.

Mr Jensen: Yes.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Jordan, I'm sorry, we've gone a couple of minutes over for your caucus, so I'd like to move on to the government caucus.

Mr Mills: I want to get back, since we've touched on it and I didn't think we would at this stage, to the sick days. I just want to clear up the impression in the auditor's report, that the average of 30 days everybody's sick is really an anomaly and that the actual sick day average for institutions was 14_ days for bargaining units and almost 10_ days for management staff in 1992.

Having said that, what I want to get straight is that I get the idea from the auditor's report and from what we've heard from other committee members and what we read in the newspapers that all of a sudden, attendance is a problem at the institutions, the jails, in Ontario, and I don't believe that. I think this has being a problem for years and years in other governments and I'd just like to hear that verified. Am I correct?

Mr McKerrell: Yes. Attendance is a significant factor in all correctional jurisdictions for correctional officers and correctional supervisors. The work is difficult and there's no point in pretending otherwise. It's stressful, and sometimes people get hurt on the job. All those factors have to be taken into account. In correctional jurisdictions, I think you would find there would be a higher level of sick credits used than you would find in a less stressful, less taxing job environment.

The business of the attendance is something that has been a problem for years. It is not a new phenomenon, and we have over the years developed a range of attendance management programs. Every one of our places to one degree or another has an attendance management program.

The problem that we have is getting an attendance management model that will be applicable through all our institutions. Attendance management is a very labour-intensive kind of process and it takes a great deal of time on a consistent basis looking at people's attendance, looking for patterns, looking for issues, following up with individuals. Tom Watson mentioned that some people are opposed, in their view, to prying into why they're ill. If they fail to cooperate, then we can't compel them to divulge health information; it's private.

But we do try to monitor these absences, and we're trying to come up with a model that we can consistently apply across every one of the 50 institutions so that where we know we have a good model working and it's been tested at the Grievance Settlement Board and so forth and it stood the test of time, if you like, or the test by fire, whatever, we can get similar features involved at all our sites, recognizing that we don't necessarily have all the management resources to deploy to deal with the problem. As I say, it's very labour-intensive. So we're trying to come up with a best practices model, as the deputy indicated.


The Vice-Chair: Mr Mills, before we continue with your line of questioning, the auditor has asked to make a comment.

Mr Peters: You indicated that we had said in the report that the average number of sick days was 30 days. Indeed, we did not say that.

Mr Mills: I stand corrected.

Mr Peters: What we did say is that one institution mentioned that its sick-day average for 1992 is 30 days. That is one. We provided a range of the eight institutions we visited. The lowest was four and a half, and the highest was 20. We later on report how there is an overtime relationship. I just wanted to put the record straight.

Mr Mills: In terms of the rate of sickness, I recognize the stress due to shift work alone, and compressed work weeks are very stressful; further to that, the very fact of correctional staff working in close contact with people who generally are not very healthy.

I don't know if you want to comment on this. I was a public servant under all three governments, and I can tell you that a factor was the changing around of the benefits, and I'm interested in seeing what the other ministries are. When we had a system where you could get credit for being there all the time paid as a bonus at Christmas, I don't think absenteeism in many ministries was a problem. But when you said arbitrarily, "You get six days and if you don't take them you've lost them," then you ran into a problem. People see that as part of the collective bargaining agreement and they take them one way or the other.

When we get to more than six days, the system provides only 75% of the day's pay, so I think it's fair to say that means that people are sick. I presume if you're going to go over six days you've really got a problem, because you have to supplement that time with your own time, holiday time or anything. I just want to make that point.

I know the ministry is working on a new attendance monitoring program. It includes, I believe, an explicit statement regarding an acceptable number of sick days. What is that number? Have you got to that yet?

Mr McKerrell: I suppose the quick answer is that an acceptable number of sick days would be zero. We look for everybody to come to work, and if they're genuinely ill the benefits that were negotiated are there for them. In terms of us getting concerned, we would get concerned if we see a pattern starting early in the year and then project out from that. But my objective is to have perfect attendance from all my staff but for legitimate illness.

Mr Duignan: Along the same line regarding sick days, the older institutions tend to be the smaller jails with 50, 40, 35. I've been looking at the figures here, and it's interesting to compare. That's where the tendency is to the higher sick days. Is there a reason for that? Had you looked at that? Take Haileybury Jail, for example. The average management sick days in 1992 was 27.57; that jumped to 45.55 for 1993. Did you look at the reasons behind that?

Mr McKerrell: The Haileybury Jail was the subject of a number of workplace discrimination and harassment complaints, and the independent investigation unit conducted a number of inquiries there. It had a very traumatic effect on all the staff in the institution: bargaining unit, management and so on and so forth. A number of people went off on extended sick leave with the stress of the situation.

Mr Duignan: The bargaining unit actually went down. It's the management that went up.

Mr McKerrell: I didn't say it was otherwise, but it was a factor. It was management people who were being investigated.

Mr Duignan: Have the necessary procedures gone in to correct that situation?

Ms Noble: In fairness, we suggest that the situation reflected in these statistics is a quite out-of-the-ordinary circumstance for that institution, and we have been taking the steps necessary in order to deal with the issues there.

Mr Duignan: If you compare two other institutions, Metro Toronto West Detention Centre and Mimico, they're roughly the same but there are wild differences in sick days between the two. What would be the reason? Both have roughly the same number of inmates and both were built recently, in the last 20 to 40 years.

Mr McKerrell: Which year are you looking at?

Mr Duignan: Look at both years in Metro Toronto West. The management in 1992 has gone down and so has Mimico's gone down. But look at the difference, 5.30 average to 40.09, and average 4.06 versus 22.63 sick days. Why the wild difference in averages?

Mr McKerrell: We were going to have the superintendent of Metro West here to explain his attendance review program, which is part of the model we're looking at, but he was involved in a car accident so he wasn't able to tell you. In fact, the program in effect at Metro West -- it has been for a number of years -- is very effective. There are one or two others that are similarly effective and have similar features, and those are the ones we're looking at to see if they can be adapted for all of our places. Mimico clearly would be a good candidate.

Mr Peters: May I raise a technical to help out? The 1993 numbers are just for nine months so you have to annualize them. On an annualized basis, for example, the 22.63 in Mimico would become 30.17. The ministry may wish to correct that, but that is just an impression we have, what we think. On an annualized basis, the averages would be 15.57 for 1993 and 12.12. In other words, it would show an increase over 1992, but I'm not sure if I'm correct.

Ms Noble: I would be careful about just projecting them in a straight-line way for 12 months, because obviously the patterns of leave -- particularly in some of the higher numbers where you may have a serious illness of one individual. If it wasn't clear, the fact that the 1993 figures are nine-month figures is definitely to be taken into account. They're not directly comparable numbers. It was simply an attempt on our part to show what it had been going back over a period of time.

Mr Duignan: So the problem could be worse. We don't know. How long has the model in Metro West been in operation?

Mr McKerrell: Several years. I can't be specific, but I can find out for you, if you like.

Mr Duignan: If it has worked in Metro West over a number of years, why hasn't the ministry taken a look at this before now and why isn't it implemented in other institutions?

Mr McKerrell: As I indicated, there are features of these programs in the larger institutions that are not as easily applied in the smaller places. We have asked our team of individuals looking at it to take the best features from these effective programs and look at similar programs from the private sector and other levels of government and try to get a model that will work and withstand the disciplinary tests and be applicable in all of our centres.

Last week, one of the people was off talking to the people at the municipality of Ottawa because they have quite a successful program. We're looking at all these different things to get the best practice we can.


Mr Duignan: Why wasn't it done before now in those institutions that are comparable? Metro West and Mimico are similar in terms of numbers of population, with only 20 years' difference in construction of the buildings. Why wait? How much longer, another two years before something like that is instituted there?

Mr McKerrell: There's also a difference in the age patterns of the staff between Mimico and Metro West. Metro West has a younger staff and there's an older staff at Mimico, so that's a factor. I can't give you a breakdown, but I know that's the case, and it would have implications for the attendance pattern.

Mr Duignan: I'll come back to that later, to give my colleague time.

Mr Mills: If you look at this chart you just say, "Goodness gracious, look at this." I want to get this clear. In Mimico, you've got management 40.09. It would only take someone with a serious illness, a long-term disability, to jack those figures up like that, so these figures are not really unreasonable given the job, given the chance of catching diseases, given the fact that people do get older and some get sick. It wouldn't be beyond the realm of my imagination to look down to those figures, something like 30 days, and say that obviously someone has been very ill. Would that be a fair assessment, rather than to assume that everybody is beating the system?

Mr McKerrell: Absolutely. Tom Watson, I think it was, alluded to this earlier. In larger and smaller places, the figures can be skewed by a few longer-term illnesses. If someone has a heart attack they can be off for three or four months, or with a broken limb they can be off for a couple of months, depending on the seriousness. The management group is smaller and the figures get skewed accordingly.

Mr Mills: As correctional guards are somewhat akin, in the stress value of shift work etc, to provincial police, has there been any assessment done to see if these figures are compatible with our police forces?

Mr McKerrell: I haven't seen them myself, but I'm given to understand that there is a similarity. How close it is, I can't tell you.

Mr Mills: It would seem to me that in analysing this, contrary to the belief you see in the media that this is outrageous, it really is not at all, in those terms. A comparison would be vis-à-vis the police in terms of the type of job, shifts etc.

Mr McKerrell: I'm anxious to get the attendance pattern down, and that's no line. When I was a superintendent, the average attendance in my institution, which was the Don jail, the Toronto Jail, was down around 10. That was quite a while ago, but at that point in time 10 was a reasonable average across the system. As I said, my preference is perfect attendance. We have a number of places where the attendance figures are really quite low, yet it can be just as stressful a job there. You have to look at what other factors are coming into play.

The whole business of attendance review and attendance monitoring is very complex. I wish it were as simple as "Add water and stir" but it isn't. We are absolutely determined to get the level of attendance down because it is extremely expensive. We feel that with this attendance monitoring process we're going to put in place and are going to enforce, soon -- as I said, April 1 -- we are going to see some improvement.

The Vice-Chair: Before we go on to the final round of questioning for the afternoon, the auditor has a few questions of the ministry.

Mr Peters: To help clarify, probably your ministry is the same as our department, that if persons have more than three days' leave they have to bring a medical certificate. Would that be the rule here too?

Mr McKerrell: Yes.

Mr Peters: And with these certificates, is some sort of analysis carried out as to what exactly the pattern is? That would be one question. The second is complementary in a way. We found that the institutions which had low absenteeism were those that seemed to take disciplinary action of some sort. I wondered if you might want to comment for the benefit of the committee on the benefit of disciplinary action.

Mr McKerrell: Taking the last point first, one may tend to think of disciplinary action as dismissal, but there are levels of discipline well short of dismissal. Sometimes those methods are effective and sometimes they're not. Sometimes even dismissal is not particularly effective. As a superintendent, I myself dismissed someone for poor attendance; the individual was constantly off. I couldn't get the individual to come to work so I could fire the person, so I fired the person over the telephone. The Grievance Settlement Board reinstated the individual and said I shouldn't have fired the person over the telephone. There are all kinds of horror stories about people who have tried to take disciplinary action and been unsuccessful, but we believe where there is a concerted effort, the message gets through to the abuser eventually, and it's the abusers we're concerned about. People who are legitimately ill are entitled to take the benefit that's been negotiated for them.

On the other point, the collective agreement outlines when medical certificates are required. It's three days for the bargaining unit and five days for management, if I remember correctly. It's a while since I've dealt with this front line myself. Oh, I'm being told it's five days. If you suspect abuse, you can ask for it at any time, but you have to be able to justify your suspicions. You can't just say, "I think so-and-so is pulling the wool over our eyes." You have to be able to document the reasons you think so-and-so is swinging the lead. So yes, we do follow the collective agreement in asking for medical certificates.

We also ask for medical examinations where we consider there may be an issue. Again there are certain procedures that have to be followed. The guidelines have been laid down as a result of arbitration decisions, so it's all really quite structured, and it's very time-consuming. It takes a long time to establish a pattern, as you know. It can take two or three years, and it has to be done consistently. You have to be able to demonstrate that the process is applied fairly to all people in the workplace and that you're not picking on individual A, B, or whatever. Eventually you reach the point where you can take some disciplinary action.

With medical examinations, the employee has to agree to allow the results of the medical examination to be conveyed to you by the physician. If the person doesn't do that, you don't get any information. When we send someone for a mandatory medical, we send a letter to the physician outlining the nature of the person's job. In other words, if it's a correctional officer, we'll say, "Would you please examine so-and-so and provide us with an opinion as to whether or not he or she can do the following functions," and we list the functions, 15 or 20 of them, that are all directly applicable to a correctional officer's job. What we look for back is the physician saying, "I've examined this person against the list of your criteria and yes, this person is fit to do this work." The first thing on the list, as far as I'm concerned, and it's one of the features we intend to build in, is regular and consistent attendance at work according to the schedule. We ask the physician to evaluate the person on that criterion.


If we get all that information, we're in a better position to understand whether we're dealing with a malingerer or someone who is genuinely ill, and you deal with it accordingly. Disciplinary action, as I said, can be handed out.

If we don't like the medical certificate -- somebody may just go to a doctor and say, "Hey, Doc, I was sick yesterday," and the doctor may write out a note saying, "So-and-so says they were sick" -- we wouldn't necessarily accept that. Our managers are entitled, we're advised, to question that and ask the employee to get a more definitive statement from the physician.

So there's a lot of stuff to this. As I said, it would be nice if we could just add water and stir and have a solution, but it's far more complex.

Mr Peters: Just one comment while Mr Runciman is back in the room. I wanted to talk again about the per diem. What the deputy and I are using, what we are all using, is Statscan information; that's the basis on which they are providing the information, the common source across the system. To put that on the record, that's our most common source and that's how they are measuring.

The Vice-Chair: Before we go on to the final round of questioning, I wonder if the ministry could clarify a technical point for me about the floor plans you provided to the committee. I'm looking at the ones for the Barrie Jail; some of the cells seem to be extremely small. Are the floor plans actually to scale? Some of the cells appear to be no wider than the width of a door, so they'd be maybe three feet maximum and six or seven feet long, if this is to scale.

Mr McKerrell: That is the size of the cells in these old jails. They are the width of a single bed. In order for the individual to be in the cell during the day, the bed has to fold up against the wall. They are about three feet wide and seven or eight feet long. That's the size of the cells built in the 1800s, and that's why we find these old institutions unacceptable.

The Vice-Chair: Hardly the lap of luxury that sometimes the media portray.

Mr McKerrell: Let me hasten to assure the members I have yet to see a correctional institution that really is the Hilton that is often described in the media.

Mr Duignan: What Cam Jackson said yesterday: Lobster and filet steaks.

Mr McKerrell: Yes, there's a lot of baloney that floats around in the media about that. None of Ontario's correctional institutions are palaces, I can assure you.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you for that clarification. We'll go into the final round of questioning, about 10 minutes per caucus.

Mr Callahan: Is it 10 or 20?

The Vice-Chair: We want to adjourn a few minutes before 5 to go in camera to decide the agenda for the rest of the week.

Mr Callahan: I'd like to go back to your comments about the high incidence of management and bargaining unit absences. You've indicated that in the Haileybury situation, with management being almost 46 days and 24 days for union people, this was as a result of an investigation into harassment. Can I draw from that that the numerous other instances where there are high proportions or great increases in management absence, for instance Mimico -- well, that may turn out to be just about the same as it was in the other. But in some of the others where there have also been investigations of sexual harassment, that has created these increases in absence?

Mr McKerrell: No, that conclusion can't be drawn. A wide range of factors would account for these variations across the 50 places. We know Haileybury was affected by that incident, and that's why we provided information.

Mr Callahan: Maybe to save time you could tell me which other ones on there were also investigations that caused the problem of increased sick time.

Ms Noble: The situation at the particular facility in Haileybury was a combination of the number of complaints leading to investigation against the backdrop of a very small staff, which led to our comments. I would not suggest that any of the other institutions would have had a significant impact due to investigation of complaints. That does not mean there have not been complaints under investigation in the other institutions, but the situation is that Haileybury was so small and therefore the impact it had in that particular institution was great.

Mr Callahan: I presume that having told us about Haileybury, you can undertake to give us a list of the other institutions on this sheet that were also under investigation. Can I get that undertaking?

Ms Noble: I think we can give you an indication of the institutions where there have been complaints raised in the system over the last year. We can do that. We have some considerations with respect to confidentiality etc that I would want to take some advice on in terms of going beyond that, in terms of numbers etc.

Mr Callahan: We're not asking you for names; simply those institutions in which there were sufficient complaints that it warranted an investigation. I think we're entitled to that as the public accounts committee.

Ms Noble: I'm saying I am prepared to provide to the committee a list of the institutions where there have been complaints, and we are obliged to investigate all complaints that fall under the policy.

Mr Callahan: So we can assume, when you supply us with those where there were complaints, that there were in fact investigations?

Ms Noble: That's correct.

Mr Callahan: According to the auditor's report, when a person is sick you have to go to a pool of people who have qualifications, ex-correctional officers or whoever, to come in, kind of like the teacher situation where you bring in a supply teacher. Is that right?

Mr McKerrell: Yes.

Mr Callahan: Something like $12 million, as I understand from the auditor's report, has been spent on this activity, and that's obviously not disputed. My good colleague from the government party indicated that at one time there was a process in place whereby people were able to keep their sick leave and accumulate it.

Mr Mills: Your government did that.

Mr Callahan: That's probably a good idea, actually --

Mr Mills: I mean they changed it on me.

Mr Callahan: I see. Has there been any consideration of going back to that? I know of several industries that use that operation. They find it's better to credit these people with those days, either in terms of shortening their retirement period or a credit at the end of their employment, than to have to hire people, often at overtime, and lose $12 million.

Mr McKerrell: I can make a couple of comments. One is that we as a ministry can't create changes unilaterally to benefit packages that would apply equally to all ministries in the government. As the deputy mentioned, this issue of attendance is something we're exploring with OPSEU on a larger stage and it may be -- "may be," I say -- possible that different approaches can be discussed and considered and then result in negotiation.

However, I would hasten to point out that in the days when people were able to cash in some of their attendance credits at Christmastime, there was no long-term income protection plan. The whole benefit package was restructured in I think the early 1980s or late 1970s; it goes back quite a while. They used to get 15 days a year, if I remember correctly, of which a certain number of unused days could be cashed in around Christmastime. All that was done away with and replaced with this current plan where people are on full pay for six days and then on 75% pay for 124 days, for a total of six months worth: 130 days of protection. If they have a serious illness and they're not able to return to work within that period, they go on long-term income protection. It was a whole new plan that was brought in to replace the old one. Any change to that to bring back some sort of incentive program would have to be negotiated across the government.


We are having our own attendance review management committee look at what kinds of incentives we can do in-house, but we're looking at pretty small stuff, quite frankly: letters of commendation for perfect attendance and things of that nature. There is a government policy that says you're not supposed to reward people for coming to work, so there's a limit to how far you can go in terms of attendance incentives.

Mr Callahan: I guess people out there in the private sector would look at this and be absolutely astounded that you can have six days guaranteed and that you can go for another 124 days at 75% of your salary. I presume if I did that, I would bring in a letter at the end of it saying I'd been sick.

Mr McKerrell: Oh, yes.

Mr Callahan: But you'd have no way of knowing how sick I was or how long I'd been sick. Obviously, the criticism of the auditor is that the programs that were in place were unacceptable, clearly not capable of monitoring this whole program. It almost became an opportunity to try to out-sick-time the next institution, from the looks of the figures I have here.

I want to go to another item. Perhaps I can ask Dr Humphries about this. There's a lady in Orillia who's been watching this. She wants to know what criteria a 14-year-old has to meet for treatment when he has Tourette's syndrome -- I'm not sure what that is -- and other associated disorders such as aggression, obsessive-compulsive disorder etc. Is there treatment for that type of illness?

Dr Humphries: For a 14-year-old?

Mr Callahan: Yes. He's going to be released in February and they're concerned that all he's gained is -- I gather these people must have some degree of manipulation from that disorder, because he's learned new tricks, she says.

Dr Humphries: He would not be within our system, Mr Callahan.

Mr Callahan: He'd be Community and Social Services, would he?

Dr Humphries: That's correct. I shouldn't try to comment on their behalf about what resources they have available.

Mr Callahan: Okay. I'll take that up with them.

To go back to the question of staffing, it appears to be almost one to one: one correctional officer to one prisoner. Am I correct?

Ms Noble: Averaged across the system, those are the numbers, yes.

Mr Callahan: Has this arisen, and I think you've already indicated it has, partly as a result of the fact that in our efforts to be civilized and sympathetic in closing institutions, we've dumped all the people who have medical disorders into the correctional system when they get into trouble? We've got people with AIDS in the jails, which has to be dealt with. We've got drug disorders, people who are cross-addicted to drugs and alcohol or whatever. Is that the reason we have such a high ratio, one to one?

Ms Noble: The ratio of staff in our institutions is due to a combination of factors. One factor is the needs of the individual inmate, those clients who come into the system with the kinds of special needs you've raised. When those services are in place, there are higher staffing ratios. For instance, in those facilities where there are treatment programs, there are higher staffing ratios than where there are not.

I think it would be unfair to say that's the only reason in terms of staffing ratios. We've spent some time commenting and I think we'll be discussing further the requirements of the young offenders vis-à-vis the general adult population. We've talked to some degree about the issue of the numbers of staff needed to supervise inmates depending on the configuration of the building in particular. While the issues that have been raised in terms of the needs of the inmates is certainly a factor, it is not the only factor that contributes to the staffing needs in Ontario.

Mr Callahan: I think somebody said 900 of those employees are related to the YOA situation. I have to conclude that the balance is a direct result of the type of offenders that these people, men and women guards, are required to police.

I'll end with a rhetorical question. It seems to me that it's a mug's game to do what we did: release these people out on to the street, particularly people with mental illnesses or people who perhaps, as Mr Runciman said, have AIDS and are going to be out there looking for treatment, many of them not able to find hospices; to spend all this money on correctional facilities where that really isn't the place to correct the problem. That money would be better spent and more wisely spent in creating other facilities to deal with these things which are really medical problems, not correctional problems.

I hope, in your interministerial discussions, you take that up as a consideration. I've had judges who have literally jumped out at counsel for having a person before them who is a schizophrenic or whatever, saying: "This is not a correctional matter. This is a matter for the mental health situation." The sooner we wake up to that fact and start dealing with it -- this young boy, if he gets turned back out on the streets, what's happened? Have we advanced his position one whit, or have we ensured that he will be back knocking on the door, back in jail probably, to serve a life sentence on the instalment plan? I hope you will take that up with your interministerial people.

Mr Runciman: Just a comment with respect to what Mr Callahan was raising about the staff-to-inmate ratio the auditor talked about, again relying on the Globe and Mail article, not having the auditor's report in front of me. The auditor raised instances of three inmates who escaped while supervised by non-correctional staff; one was supervised by a cook. In response, the minister is quoted as saying that it's not unusual for cooks to do this sort of thing. I'd like to hear the deputy's response to that. If you have an extremely high staff-to-inmate ratio, how frequently do you have to use cooks to provide this kind of service?

Ms Noble: I don't think it was a situation where the cook would have been supervising due to a lack of correctional officers. The situation we have in the institutions is that for some inmates there is the opportunity to work in the kitchen as a work opportunity within the institution. The inmates chosen for that duty are screened in terms of being in that kind of setting. When they are in the kitchen, the cooks would be in the position of supervising them. I should note that should that take place, in fact in any circumstances, the staff who would be put in that position are trained at the institution in terms of the understanding. I think it's fair to say we weren't into that supervision situation as a result of a shortage of correctional officers; it's the way in which we supervise the inmate groups who work in the kitchens.

Mr Runciman: They are usually, you suggest, a more trusted individual supposedly, and that's why they have that responsibility.


Ms Noble: That's right. They are screened. Mr McKerrell has just indicated to me that one of the reasons there's an interest in doing this is that there is some compensation for the inmates for the work they do in the kitchens.

Mr Runciman: I want to get back to what I raised with Dr Humphries, dealing with something my colleague Mr Jordan was inquiring of me. I think it's something I should pursue a little further. There are two elements to it, the problems of sex within the institutions. He said he didn't think it was widespread. How long has the policy of providing free condoms and mouth guards been in practice, and how much of a takeup have you had?

Dr Humphries: Since early in October when the announcement was made, we set up an interministerial committee to study any reviews, issues, how often they're asked for and used. We're still collecting that, which will be reported to the health and safety committee six months after its introduction.

What we know from North American studies is that if you take 10% of the yearly population, that's approximately how many condoms will be handed out during the year. It doesn't mean 10 people will ask for one or one will ask for one 10 nights in a row. The statistics seem to support that; based on that, we budgeted accordingly and figured out that throughout our system it would be close to $2,000 a year. If it was condoms only it would be $1,700, but the dental dams are more expensive.

Mr Runciman: Using the American experience of the 10% is not necessarily an accurate yardstick or reflection of how much activity is taking place within an institution.

Dr Humphries: I would agree with that. It's not just an American study, though. Correctional Services of Canada, which has been in the situation longer than we have, agrees with that statistic as well, but they have conjugal visits and things like that.

Mr Runciman: When the average stay within one of your institutions is -- I forget the figure you used -- a rather modest period of time, you'd wonder why this would be such a problem. Or maybe it isn't such a problem. How do you gauge this? How do you know that the activity's occurring? Why do you introduce this kind of initiative? What prompted it?

Dr Humphries: Really a health care basis. Nothing more, nothing less.

Mr Runciman: When you say "a health care basis," what do you mean? Is that just a suspicion or hard evidence that it's a problem? Just what happened?

Dr Humphries: There are routines where our correctional officers survey the institution regularly, 24 hours a day and particularly at night, and we really do not have a lot of incidents or charges laid as a result of this behaviour. There are charges laid, there are incidents reported, but they're not highly prevalent and things that would give us a great deal of concern. But as I indicated earlier, if we're preaching to the general population that these things must be available and must be used, then we had the philosophical problem on our behalf of what happens behind the walls.

Mr Runciman: As you say, there aren't a lot of charges. The argument can be made, and I wonder if there isn't a blind eye turned, a tacit acceptance, especially when you're issuing protective devices, that: "This is occurring. We're not going to notice it. We're not going to lay charges." If you accept the reality that it's going to happen in any event and you do provide these protective devices, I think it should go hand in hand with an active attempt to lay charges whenever such an occurrence is captured by an officer. As you say, the charges are not very prevalent, but I suspect that with a lot of it, they simply look the other way or say, "Hey, break it up," whatever, and that's the end of it.

Dr Humphries: We did observe an interesting phenomenon which occurred as a result of the condom issue and as a result of a book we were using called Get the Facts, produced by the John Howard Society. A certain group or percentage -- I don't know what the percentage is -- of our inmate population was upset and turned off that we would be suggesting homosexual activities within the institution.

Mr Runciman: Tying this into the other question of drug use, within institutions there's been some suggestion, perhaps in the United States and I think federally here as well, of providing free hypodermics. Has that been discussed within the ministry?

Dr Humphries: Yes, many times. It goes hand in hand with the bleach. The bleach is a little bit easier decision. The syringes are a very difficult one, I think for safety reasons first: They could be used as a weapon. If you had a syringe with a needle on it -- and remember, our correctional officers are not armed -- and held it against a correctional officer's carotid, it would be like a loaded handgun. All you'd have to do is jab it in. If you had it loaded with tainted blood, you could almost walk out of the institution. I would be surprised if they ever came in, quite frankly.

Mr Runciman: Bleach is another concern to officers, having bleach thrown in their eyes, that sort of thing. How much of a problem is illicit drug use in the institutions?

Dr Humphries: We can't tell for sure. If we knew, we'd take it away as contraband. We've developed ways of finding it and taking it away and they develop new ways of bringing it in.

Mr Runciman: Are the people on temporary absences and coming in on weekends to serve their sentence a main source of illicit drugs, do you suspect?

Dr Humphries: I don't know about "main"; it would have to be seen as a source.

Mr Runciman: I was reading of a situation in Nova Scotia where the people who are on temporary absences are being intimidated and threatened by other inmates: "When you come back in next weekend, we want you to bring a bag of" whatever. Do you have any system of search and seizure of people coming in to serve a weekend sentence or on an intermittent basis? Is there anything in place within the ministry to deal with it?

Dr Humphries: We do, but I should turn that over.

Mr McKerrell: Where we suspect someone coming in on a Friday night or whenever for their intermittent sentence is under the influence of a drug, we isolate the individual from the rest of the population, and they may indeed spend their whole weekend in isolation away from the rest of the population.

The intermittent situation is something of a concern to my colleagues in all jurisdictions across the country, Nova Scotia included. We've actually discussed a number of times putting forward a proposal to do away with intermittent sentences. Whether it would ever be received, I don't know, but it's sufficient of a problem to us that we've kicked the idea around.

One consideration if you do away with the intermittent sentence where the person's only coming in for two or three days a week is, does that mean the judge would then sentence them to a full term, which would aggravate the pressure problems? We haven't come up with a solution to that one yet.

Mr Runciman: I guess they're using their free condoms to bring these into the facility.

Mr McKerrell: May I just say that the issue of the condoms, as Dr Humphries says, is purely a health issue. In no way is there condonation of sex.

Mr Runciman: Endorse or encourage.

Mr McKerrell: That's right. In fact, we discourage. Our house rules are being redone to indicate that sexual activity is not condoned.

Mr Runciman: Can you lay a charge? Is there a legal recourse?

Mr McKerrell: There isn't a specific charge under the Ministry of Correctional Services Act that says, "If you have sex, you're charged with a misconduct." There's a general category of infraction we could use to cover it. There is no evidence of a lot of sexual activity. There is certainly an amount, but we don't have evidence to indicate that there's a lot of it.


Mr Larry O'Connor (Durham-York): I talked to a constituent who is a corrections officer and would fall under the unclassified category as a part-time worker, knowing that we were going to get together and some of the concerns the auditor pointed to around absenteeism and what not. One of the difficulties my constituent has is having to sign a form every so often saying they're going to be a temporary employee, a part-time employee. Then of course, in keeping with the spirit of some legislation, they're given a notice saying they could be subject to termination, so they've got these clouds hanging over them being an unclassified person.

I don't think that helps absenteeism, but the difficulty they have is that it intimidates them: They're going to have that hanging over them. They are kept on call, or, when possible, they schedule something for them. In the case of my constituent, he's got phone bills that aren't taken into account, when my constituent is phoning in and requesting when the hours might be. These individuals in many cases, because they would like to be full-time and hope this can work into something more full-time, will continue to be as available as possible to the correctional facility in the hope that one day they will get a full-time job. Meanwhile, they live their life around that part-time element, which places a financial burden on them and their families: They have to be available because they don't want to have a black mark that they refused a shift. I would think that would add to some of the problems they have.

I was wondering if there was a way to schedule that would ensure that staff be given some indication of when they might have to work. I don't know whether the ministry is aware that there are problems there. There is a need for qualified people in this unclassified area so you can staff the facilities appropriately, but these people who are staffing would have related problems. Has that been part of your staffing review that is taking place? Is some of that being looked into?

Mr McKerrell: There are couple of aspects to that. First, yes, we are aware of the difficulty unclassified people face when they're on what we call irregularly scheduled; in other words, they may be called at any time. For unclassified, who are essentially full-time staff filling in behind full-time vacancies, that's not an issue, but the ones who are irregularly scheduled, you're right, live by the phone. In fact, some people have even taken on pagers so they're readily available.

One of the factors that's taken into account when people are interviewed as casuals is, "How available are you?" The majority of casuals have some other type of employment and will often tell the correctional institution when they are available. Some people are even able to predict their schedule from their other employment months in advance and provide that to the local institution, which makes it easy for everybody.

In the urban centres like Toronto and so forth, it's particularly difficult for a person to survive on part-time employment, obviously, with the cost of living.

The staffing analysis that has just been completed is one of three pieces of work that have to be done. The actual staffing analysis piece that has been done is to identify whether we have some casuals, unclassified staff, who should be converted to full-time so as to better meet the needs of the institution. Of course, if that were done, we would be reducing the expenditures in the unclassified budget and offsetting it. In fact, the analyses that have been done by Kurt Jensen and a couple of people working with him have shown us where we could actually save some money doing some of these conversions.

It's a three-part process. The staffing analysis is one bit. It says, given all the operational parameters you currently have, all the factors of the collective agreement and what have you, do you have the number of staff you need? The next piece is the post analysis to make sure that every post we have is in fact required. In our cost cutting, we want to make very sure that all of the posts are required. There's a phenomenon we refer to in the business as post creep: You deploy a person, and before you know it, it's become a post. We want to make sure all the posts are in fact required.

The third aspect is the efficiency of the schedules. All the schedules we have in place in all our 50 institutions are negotiated locally with the bargaining unit and management. Frankly, I think some are more efficient than others. We're looking into trying to get some software that will evaluate the efficiency of schedules so we can run all our schedules through that and see whether there can be some variations to make them more efficient. If any of you deal with shift schedules, you're probably well aware that the most efficient schedule in the world nobody would ever want to work because they would never get weekends off and so on and so forth, so you would never get agreement with your bargaining unit, but there's a happy medium.

We want to make sure that all our schedules are efficient and all our posts are required and that we have the right balance between classified and unclassified staff. That should go some way towards addressing your constituent's concerns.

Mr Mills: I have a number of questions, but in keeping with the time of the day, I'm going to ask one that hopefully will get a brief answer. We hear and read that judicial system constantly has people serving sentences on weekends. That seems to be the way of the world these days. It seems to me that this would put tremendous pressure on corrections in terms of staffing. Perhaps in a few minutes you could elaborate on those concerns of what happens.

Mr McKerrell: Each of the jails and detention centres in the province is subject to having intermittent offenders arrive at some point during the week -- most of them on the weekend, but not necessarily; it depends on what the judge prescribes. It does create a burden, a demand, and the most notable example of that is at Mimico Correctional Centre, where we have some 300 people reporting on a weekend.

A range of measures are taken into account to address these intermittent situations all across the province. We have a number of contracts in place in some institutions in the province to provide training and public works and so on and so forth, under supervision in the community as opposed to simply keeping the people locked up.

Mr Callahan: Can I have a supplementary?

The Vice-Chair: Mr Callahan, you do try the patience of the Chair, but I'm sure it's a very valid supplementary and very brief.

Mr Callahan: You speak of concerns about the intermittent on weekends, but I would think you'd have the same difficulties if you have temporary absences, because they're going out to work in the morning and coming back at night; instead of having it concentrated at one point you've got it throughout the week.

One of the criticisms of temporary absence versus intermittent on weekends is that sometimes by the time the temporary absence pass is granted, the guy's lost his job. In this day and age of job significance, that creates a problem. Or, in the alternative, the superintendent decides they're not going to let this person out even though the judge has said, "Let them out."

Mr McKerrell: On the issue of employment and temporary absence, most of our people on temporary absence attending employment are in community resource centres as opposed to going back and forth from the institution to the job. There's some of that, but we use the community resource centres primarily for that.

With respect to processing people quickly on temporary absence, if the judge orders a person for immediate temporary absence -- and the judiciary is well aware of these procedures -- we make the commitment to have the individual out within 24 hours unless, when the brief check is done on CPIC and so forth, there is some good reason to keep the person back.

Essentially, if a judge orders an immediate temporary absence so the person can go to work, all we do is make a check with the employer to make sure the job is there, because people before the court don't always tell the truth. We make sure the job is there and then we make sure the person has no charges that would give us any concern, and then the person can go.

When it's not an immediate temporary absence, we still try to expedite the matter as much as we can, but we do the full check, which, depending on how quickly the person gets the supportive information in, could take a week or two weeks.

Of course, if it's an issue that the person's about to lose his or her job -- from my own experience as a classification counsellor donkey's years ago, they make that clear to you pretty quickly -- we can take some steps. I've called employers myself to indicate that we would like to do everything we can to help get the person out if everything meets, and can we cooperate with the employer and can they help us and so on and so forth, and it usually works out.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you, Mr McKerrell.

After we adjourn this evening, I'd like to ask members if they would stay for a few minutes so we can discuss the agenda for the balance of the week. I'll undertake to the ministry that we will phone you as soon as possible, possibly within the next half-hour, to let you know whether indeed the committee would like to go to a correctional facility or two later this week so we can give you as much advance notice as possible.

Mr Perruzza: I'd be delighted to stay.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Perruzza, of course, will be staying at least till 6, possibly till 7.


The Vice-Chair: You can tell it's the end of the day.

The standing committee on public accounts remains adjourned until tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock.

The committee continued in closed session at 1703.