The Whitehorse Correctional Centre pictured in 2015. The Yukon’s deputy assistant minister of justice Al Lucier says that a recent settlement agreement of four human rights complaints against the government by former Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates helps to show how services at the centre can be improved. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

WCC human rights complaints settlement opens way for improvements, ADM says

In an interview, Al Lucier said settlement wasn’t a finding of fault

The Yukon government’s recent settlement of four human rights complaints against the Whitehorse Correctional Centre (WCC) isn’t so much a finding of fault than something that helps pave the way for improvements, says the territory’s deputy assistant minister of justice.

On July 24, the Yukon Human Rights Commission publicly released a copy of a settlement it had reached with the territorial government and four complainants, all former inmates of the WCC, in May of this year.

The settlement agreement includes promises of reform from the Yukon government on systemic issues including access to mental health services, the use of segregation and separate confinement and improving services for First Nations inmates.

In an interview July 25, deputy assistant minister of justice Al Lucier, whose portfolio includes corrections, said he sees the settlement and its terms as “an opportunity for improvement.”

“The processes and policies that are in place (at the WCC) were always open to improvement, and I think that’s what this settlement finds, is that it finds a way to make those improvements,” he said.

One of the most significant terms of the settlement agreement is that the WCC will establish a forensic mental health unit within the facility. Lucier said that the unit, which will be led by a PhD clinical psychologist backed by a team of other staff members, will be treating inmates directly and will also be advising WCC management on best practices, something he described as a “pretty big step.”

“Currently, the majority of our services in respect of providing mental health services begin with the medical staff that are on-hand at the correctional facility…. The new model will see a move towards a more integrated mental health group led by certified psychologists that will work directly will the management team to inform them on certain decisions, and be able to then apply the mental health services that are required of (individual inmates) inside of the custodial corrections,” Lucier said.

The people that will make up the forensic mental health unit will not be corrections employees but employees of the Department of Health and Social Services.

Lucier said he doesn’t believe that unit will have a psychologist or psychiatrist on-call at all times.

Currently, the WCC has a psychiatrist, working on contract, who regularly visits the WCC to provide services to inmates. Lucier said it’s too early to say whether the unit will completely replace contract professionals, or if it will supplement them.

“I think initially, it will be a blend…. We want to normalize these services into what is more the mainstream of health provision services, which would be done through health and social services,” he said, adding that it will be up to that department on whether it will continue to use contracts or move towards having an “in-house” clinician model.

Lucier added that the unit is not meant to be a forensic mental health facility, and that the review board will still be sending people who require that level of care to Outside facilities.

Lucier also said that he doesn’t see the agreement’s terms to have all WCC employees receive human rights training, or for some employees to receive training on Gladue principles, as a condemnation. The training employees did receive, he said, as well as the acts that employees are governed by, are already “keeping within the constitution and within human rights.”

“We weren’t training contrary to human rights,” he said. “This (settlement) goes to say that there are opportunities to enhance that and we embrace that. It’s not a finding that we are at absolute fault of not having anything.”

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Girls just wanna have fun — and also rock

Whitehorse Girls Rock Camp hosts Saturday showcase

Yukon government releases Whitehorse Correctional Centre inspection report

The report contains 40 recommendations on how facilities and services at the WCC should be improved

Many Rivers staff vote to strike

18 counsellors and support staff have been without a contract for over a year

Crown, defence ask for 10 years’ parole ineligibility for Watson Lake murderer

Travis Dennis pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in May for killing Andy Giraudel in 2016

18 bears killed in the Yukon between April and July this year

Environment Yukon has not been providing updates on bear deaths this year due to workload involved

Paddlers ride down the Yukon River in the annual Chili and Beans Race

‘We’re always trying to find ways to keep people active’

Gymkhana tests Yukon horses and riders

‘I don’t ever want somebody to leave feeling like they didn’t accomplish some kind of goal’

Whitehorse volunteers turn to GoFundMe to raise cash for thrift store

The Whitehorse Community Thrift Store is hoping to raise $70,000 in ‘seed money’

The air up there: why you should buy a plane

Hell is other people. If you own a plane you can fly away from them

What to ask when you take your car to the shop

A visit to your garage, tire shop, dealership or repair shop can… Continue reading

Whitehorse resident Steve Roddick announces bid for council

Housing, consultation top list of priorities

Cozens, Team Canada off to strong start at Hlinka Gretzky Cup

Canada rolls through Switzerland and Slovakia to set up showdown with Sweden

Selkirk First Nation says chinook salmon numbers similar to last year’s

Sonar on the Pelly River had counted just more than 7,900 chinook as of Aug. 5

Most Read