QUEENS PARK – This week the Ontario Legislature returned for the fall session and with its’ return MPP Yurek questioned the Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services on his recent announcement at the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre.
After years of denying that overcapacity was an issue at the jail, on October 8, 2014, the ministry announced a new building for intermittent inmates to alleviate the overcrowding. There were no plans or budget numbers released with the announcement. However, the Minister indicated the project would be completed within the year.
MPP Yurek asked the Minister to share the cost for the project, indicate how the project will be funded, and at what time the RFP will be tendered. Unfortunately, the Minister avoided answering any of the questions. MPP Yurek again suggested that the ministry look at utilizing current government assets such as the Regional Mental Health buildings in St. Thomas; creating a partnership with the Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care or re-opening the Bluewater Youth Centre in Goderich that was recently closed by the Liberal Government. Once again, the Minister refused to comment on the question and did not indicate if the ministry had completed a cost analysis on the new build compared to using existing government assets.
MPP Yurek has been advocating and pressuring the government to address the concerns at EMDC for 3 years while the government continued to ignore the situation. MPP Yurek stated in his question to the Minister “Your ministry’s track record is terrible when it comes to fixing the issues at EMDC. The ministry has closed rural jails which amplified the overcrowding conditions at EMDC, failed to implement your 12 point plan and failed in providing Correctional Officers with the proper equipment to do their jobs safely.”
“I am concerned that the Ministry will once again fail to solve the overcrowding and violence occurring at EMDC and that the Minister’s recent announcement may be another empty promise made by the Liberal Government to ease the tensions at EMDC. With no apparent budget, cost analysis or RFP in place I am skeptical this project will ever come to fruition”
“I have provided the Minister with other options that his ministry has yet to acknowledge. I believe it is imperative that the ministry choose and follow through on the most cost-effective solution to the problems at EMDC.”
Yurek noted that he will continue to hold the government accountable on their promises to address the overcrowding, violence and labour issues at EMDC.
Whitney McWilliam | P: 226-448-6741 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org