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Immediate action needed to increase access to mental health services for inmates

Updated: Nov 27, 2018

The NDP Caucus is calling for the implementation of urgent changes to mental health services in our correctional facilities, including increased access to counselling services.

Yesterday in Question Period, Leader and Justice Critic Gerry Rogers brought forth the issue following the recent deaths of two women who died while in the Clarenville Correctional Centre for Women. Rogers says following the second death in seven weeks in this institution, action is needed immediately.

“I ask the Minister, what is he doing right now to ensure all inmates are safe and properly treated while incarcerated, particularly around mental health services? Has anything changed at the institution because of these deaths?” Rogers said.

Rogers further asked the Minister if he will immediately authorize mental health assessments by psychiatrists and mental health workers of Eastern Health for all inmates who need them and provide the treatment they need.

Today in Question Period, Rogers said the Minister of Justice and Public Safety has announced an independent review of the three deaths in provincial correctional centres since August.

“I ask the Premier, will he also immediately release the terms of reference and powers of the investigator so the families and the public can know what her work will involve, what her time frame is, what resources she will have, who will she report to, and if the report will be tabled in the House?” Rogers asked.

Rogers pressed that the All-Party Committee on Mental Health and Addictions recommended that mental health services in correctional facilities be provided by the health and community services system.

“The action plan committed to doing this by 2021 – four years after the recommendations and three years from now. 2021 is too late. These services need to be provided now.”

“I ask the Premier, given the crisis of mental health issues in our correctional facilities, will he commit to transferring mental health services in correctional facilities to the health authorities immediately?” Rogers said.

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