THUNDER BAY — The province has announced plans to increase the number of crisis intervention staff at adult correctional institutions in northern Ontario.
By the end of this year, the Thunder Bay Jail and Correctional Centre, Kenora Jail and Monteith Correctional Complex will each have their complement of Institutional Crisis Intervention Teams increased by three members.
However, the total number of correctional staff at the facilities will not be increased. The new ICIT members will be volunteers from existing staff who choose to receive additional training.
A government spokesperson says the Thunder Bay Jail/Correctional Centre currently have nine ICIT members serving the two facilities, as does the Kenora Jail.
The announcement comes about three months after the union representing corrections workers asked the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services for help to manage overcrowding at the Thunder Bay District Jail.
At the time, the 147-bed facility had an inmate population of almost 200.
"What happens with that is increased tensions and more assaults. A lot of the same things that led to the 2015 riot..." said union spokesperson Mike Lundy.
In an announcement Monday, Solicitor-General Sylvia Jones said the government is taking "real action to modernize our correctional facilities and to introduce cutting edge interventions that prioritize staff and public safety."
ICITs are responsible for controlling violent inmates as well as removing and escorting them within the institution or transferring them to another institution.
Each ICIT member is required to complete 10 days of basic training that includes theory concepts, practical skills and scenario-based training on a variety of topics including hostage recovery, cell extraction and use-of-force concepts.
In April, Minister Jones travelled to Thunder Bay to reconfirm the province's commitment to build a new 325-bed facility that will combine the aging jail and the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre.
A Request for Proposals from contractors is expected to be issued in the fall.