A report from the provincial Ombudsman is calling attention to what it describes as substandard living conditions at Saskatoon Correctional Centre.
According to the annual report released Thursday, investigators focused on secured living areas of the main building including dormitories, the gymnasium and specialized living units such as medical, secure and holding.
Overall, the report noted cleanliness, maintenance and repair of areas at the facility were lacking, particularly in the specialized living units.
Investigators reportedly saw inmates using mattresses on the floor in the medical, holding, secure and remand units, as well as in the dormitories. The report noted corrections told the Ombudsman the sleeping arrangements were temporary.
The Ombudsman report stated that, for the most part, inmates in dormitories and living units had access to toilets and showers that were somewhat private and isolated from common living areas.
However, in cases where inmates double-bunked in cells – including those in specialized units – toilets had no privacy.
The report stated in some cells, there is minimal space between where inmates sleep or eat and where they use the toilet.
Inmates in the specialized living units also told investigators they spend the bulk of their day in cramped living conditions.
The Ombudsman made four recommendations for improvement in the report to the Ministry of Justice, Corrections and Policing:
- Establish and implement reasonable, detailed standards for the physical living conditions at each of its adult secure correctional centres, including cleanliness, maintenance and repair standards.
- Establish and implement a system of regular inspections to ensure each of its adult secure correctional centres is complying with its standards for physical living conditions.
- In collaboration with the Ministry of Central Services, review and update the Operating Agreement to ensure it clearly and in sufficient detail articulates each party’s responsibility to operate, manage, maintain, repair and clean each adult secure provincial correctional centre to the ministry’s standards for physical living conditions at the centre.
- Should ensure the ministry’s standards for physical living conditions are widely communicated and fully understood by all staff directly responsible for completing work (maintenance, repair, cleaning, etc.) to the standards or for supervising inmates who are responsible for completing the work.
The report said corrections accepted the recommendations put forward by the Ombudsman and will work to improve living conditions.
Increase in inmate complaints
The Ombudsman report found complaints about corrections have increased by 55 per cent in the last two years.
The Saskatoon Correctional Centre had 320 complaints in 2016, up from 256 the year before.
Regina Correctional Centre received 341 complaints from inmates in 2016, down from 351 in 2015. The Prince Albert facility had 156 in 2016, up from 110 in 2015.
More than 25 per cent of the complaints in 2016 regarded medical concerns.
Others included security ratings and unit placements, charges and discipline, cell conditions, transfers, staff conduct, funeral passes, telephones, property and access to programming.