There are currently 54 active COVID-19 cases among inmates and three among staff at the Regina Correctional Centre. In a press availability on Thursday, opposition NDP Justice Critic Nicole Sarauer raised concerns about the Saskatchewan Party’s handling of the pandemic.
“It’s extremely upsetting considering this isn’t the first major outbreak we’ve seen in our jails in the province, the fact that we clearly haven’t learned anything from the Saskatoon outbreak, is awful,” Sarauer said.
This outbreak comes after one was reported at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre in November.
Sarauer said that the fact that there is no set policy at this point in a pandemic is not wise.
“There should be clear policies and procedures in place for what happens if an inmate or staff member tests positive and those should be followed very closely,” she said.
According to the province, the number of cases at the jail are expected to increase with testing underway. All new admissions to provincial correctional facilities are tested and screened on admission and again after 10 days. Offenders are also tested if they are symptomatic and are identified as requiring testing due to contact tracing or being moved to a reduced custody setting.
She explained that a policy wasn’t in place for the Saskatoon outbreak and it still has not been solved.
Sarauer accused Minister of Corrections Christine Tell of not being concerned with identifying the source of the outbreaks.
“Now we’re seeing the results of a minister who doesn’t care about her file, there’s now another major outbreak at the Regina jail and it’s important because not only are inmates’ lives at risk but staffs’ lives are at risk and all of these folks need to utilize our healthcare system which is already overburdened,” she said.
Sarauer has already called for Tell to step down from her position because of the Saskatoon outbreak and a lack of desire to find solutions.
“Now here we are with another outbreak,” Sarauer explained.
The mass testing in Regina was only recently announced and Sarauer emphasised that the opposition has already called for similar measures after Saskatoon.
“The fact that it hasn’t been implemented and is just being implemented now shows a lack of leadership at the ministerial level. Minister Tell should have been hearing these calls and pushing the health authority if that’s where the block was to make this happen so we wouldn’t be seeing what we’re seeing now at the Regina jail.”