LONDON – Today, Michael Tibollo, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, announced Ontario’s new plan to enhance security and improve safety at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC). Tibollo was joined by Minister Jeff Yurek, MPP for Elgin—Middlesex—London, and Rick Nicholls, MPP for Chatham-Kent—Leamington.
“We have seen too many overdoses and deaths related to addictions and mental health issues in the London-Middlesex community and at EMDC” said Tibollo. “I visited London recently and heard first-hand the challenges frontline staff, police and community members are encountering. This is a community-wide issue, and it’s clear that the current system is not working and we need to take action. Ontario is committed to working together across government and with community partners in taking a holistic approach to address the root causes of crime, violence and drug addiction – while continuing to make public safety our top priority.”
“For the past seven years, I have been committed to ensuring EMDC has the necessary resources it needs to serve the community safely and effectively. I will continue to work with Minister Tibollo to support and protect our correctional officers, EMDC staff and the inmates,” said Minister Yurek.
In response to the recent inmate overdoses at EMDC, security processes have been enhanced to stop contraband from entering the institution. One measure is a dedicated canine unit operating at the facility, starting October 1, 2018. Other enhanced security processes include:
- Additional correctional staff to enhance security, particularly at admission
- Increasing the number of random cell searches
- Enhanced body scanner training for staff
- Piloting a dedicated hospital escort team for inmate healthcare needs
- New drug detection kits to quickly identify whether a substance is contraband.
The province also plans on hiring more healthcare staff to support inmate care, enhancing staff training to recognize the signs of a potential overdose and piloting an ion scanner that can identify trace elements of drugs on items. In addition, a local committee, made up of frontline staff and managers, has been established to provide insight about the issues currently being encountered at EDMC and in the London-Middlesex community.
These security measures build on actions already underway at EMDC including increased doctors’ hours, and the hiring of an addictions counselor and two new social workers.
“We will ensure our frontline staff at EMDC have the resources needed to keep themselves and our communities safe as well as provide appropriate custody and care for those in our correctional system,” said Tibollo. “Crime, violence, drug addiction are complex issues that cannot be solved overnight or by the government alone, and I look forward to working with the people of London to implement positive change.”
- In August, 2018 there were 12 drug-related inmate overdoses at EMDC.
- EMDC is one of Ontario’s 25 adult correctional institutions. The average number of adults in custody across the province in 2017-18 was 7,474 per day.
- Approximately 68 per cent of the province’s adult inmate population is made up of people on remand, who are being held while awaiting trial.