Niagara Detention Centre staff wants better protections against COVID-19

Niagara Detention Centre

Corrections officers at the Niagara Detention Centre in Thorold are asking for better protections against COVID-19. 

Marko Mrmak is a corrections officer and also the union local president for OPSEU Local 252 and he says while the jail doesn't currently have any positive cases of COVID-19 they'd like to be proactive in keeping it that way. 

He says right now guards are allowed to bring in their own masks but are expected to carry out their duties without wearing them. 

Mrmak says if staff feel a situation presents itself that requires a mask, they must ask their management team and they'll decide whether they can wear one or not. 

MrMak says social distancing is impossible in their field and inmates have expressed concerns about staff members leaving and coming back and bringing the virus in with them. 

To hear MrMak's full interview with 610CKTB's Matt Holmes, click here.

The Ministry of the Solicitor General has listed a number of operational changes at corrections facilities due to the pandemic. 

When it comes to masks, the website says corrections staff will be given surgical masks when they are within two metres of inmates who are symptomatic or have not yet been screened.

CKTB news reached out to the Ministry yesterday and received the below response. 

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Niagara Detention Centre.

The health and safety of our staff and those in our custody is the top priority.  We recognize and thank our dedicated staff, who are working hard to keep our correctional facilities and our communities safe. 

We have made operational changes at our adult provincial correctional institutions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including restricting personal visitors, substantially reducing inmate in-person court appearances and proactively reducing the inmate population.

Each institution has an individualized pandemic plan utilized in consultation with local public health partners. Niagara Detention Centre actively screens staff and inmates, and has also implemented temperature checks. Temperature checks are being rolled out at all institutions across the province.

Staff are also required to perform a self-assessment prior to entering the institution and are advised to monitor their own health and report to management any changes to their health status. ​

Staff at our correctional facilities, including Niagara Detention Centre, have access to personal protection equipment as required.

We continue to monitor this situation and work closely with public health partners as this situation evolves.

The government continues to evaluate all options to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within our correctional system. Our priority remains the health and safety of our staff and all those in our custody.

Kristy Denette

Spokesperson - Ministry of Solicitor General