The Auditor General’s report released today, revealed that not only is the McNeil government mismanaging healthcare and education, the province’s jails have also fallen victim to Liberal incompetence.
Today’s report highlighted that the Liberal government has poorly managed Nova Scotia’s corrections facilities and unnecessarily endangered staff and offenders.
The Auditor General, Michael Pickup, says the province does not manage risks to safety and security of roughly 500 offenders and nearly 600 staff in Nova Scotia’s four adult correctional facilities. Pickup also noted that the hiring process for the facilities often failed to perform criminal background checks on those being hired at the jails.
McNeil’s government has proven it has issues properly managing important files. Tim Houston says the McNeil Liberals should be very concerned that they have neglected another department.
“The Liberals have failed Nova Scotians on health, education, and now in the justice system,” says Houston. “How is it that you need a criminal background check to work at the mall, but not to work in a jail? This government is unnecessarily putting people in harm’s way.”
Pickup identified many shortcomings in key areas.
Some key conclusions from the chapter on Correctional Facilities are:
Many policies that promote safety and security are not consistently followed.
No comprehensive risk assessment framework.
No performance management framework.
Over 600 assault incidents identified. From the Department of Justice’s data included in the AG’s report, it can be concluded that there is, on average, one major or violent incident per day at the province’s jails.
Staff have not completed required mental health and suicide intervention courses.
Staff have been hired without proper screening such as criminal checks.
“Because the government has shirked its responsibilities when it comes to jails, all the ingredients are in place for a major incident to happen. Safety and security for staff should be top of mind for the government,” says Houston. “We can’t have a nonchalant approach to running these facilities. Where has Minister Furey been on this file?”
The report offers key recommendations on how to address these problems. Houston calls on Minister Furey to immediately implement them.
The Office of the Auditor General also reviewed Grant programs and Maintenance Enforcement Program. The report noted that Grant programs need better, clear return on investment plans, while the Maintenance Enforcement chapter identified over $60 million remains unpaid from court ordered spousal and child support payments.