Archive for 2013

Ashley Smith coroner’s jury rules prison death a homicide

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

An Ontario coroner’s jury in Toronto has ruled the self-inflicted choking death of Ashley Smith in her segregated prison cell was a homicide.

​Smith, 19, originally from Moncton, N.B., was imprisoned at the Grand Valley Institution in Kitchener, Ont., when she died in 2007.

She had tied a piece of cloth around her neck while guards stood outside her cell door and watched. They had been ordered by senior staff not to enter her cell as long as she was breathing.

Presiding coroner Dr. John Carlisle read the jury’s findings Thursday afternoon, concluding,”May she rest in peace, and may God bless her memory.”

The five-woman jury made dozens of recommendations after hearing evidence from more than 80 witnesses in almost 11 months of testimony.

Among the recommendations was that there be no requirement for staff to seek authorization prior to intervening in crisis situations.

​The recommendations include:

· Smith’s death be used as a case study to demonstrate how health care and the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) failed her.

· Within 72 hours of admission to a federal institution, all female inmates be assessed by a psychologist to determine whether self-injurious behaviour exists.

· Female inmates receive support from female psychologists and support workers.

· The CSC ensure nursing services are available on site for inmates at all times.

· There be adequate staffing of qualified mental health staff at every women’s institution.

· The CSC expand the scope and terms of psychiatrists’ contracts to enable them to perform duties in a meaningful way.

· A federally operated treatment facility for high-needs, high-risk women be created.

· Decisions about clinical management of inmates be made by doctors, not CSC staff.

· Inmates must have access to an independent patient advocate system

· Indefinite solitary confinement for prisoners be abolished.

· Until indefinite solitary confinement is abolished with CSC, its use must be restricted to no more than 360 hours.

· Meetings between prisoners and support staff should not happen through food slots (something that happened frequently with Smith.)

· Prison staff be allowed to refuse orders without fear of reprisal.

· Prison staff at all levels be personally responsible for everyone’s right to life.

· Female inmates be accommodated in regions closest to family and supports.

Smith’s mother, Cora-Lee Smith, was not in Toronto for the reading of the verdict.

Kim Pate, executive director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Frye Societies – a group that works with female inmates – had hoped the jury would return a verdict of homicide.

“Many staff members have reported that she did advise them that she knew what she doing was dangerous, but she also knew it was their job to save her,” said Pate.

“So it is very clear that a combination of the order not to intervene that was sanctioned, seemingly right up to national headquarters of Correctional Services Canada, combined with the impact that had on staff, is really a major contributor to her death.”

Homicide is defined as the killing of a human being due to the act or omission of another.

Pate said homicide verdict would not mean any criminal or civil responsibility, but would only indicate Smith’s death was preventable.

In the last year of Smith’s life, the mentally troubled teenager was shuffled 17 times between nine institutions in five provinces.

Full article from CBC

Murder highlights importance of sex-worker safety

Friday, October 11th, 2013

As police search for the person responsible for the recent slaying of Ottawa sex-trade worker Amy Paul, the Somerset West Community Health Centre is promoting safety tips for women selling sex during this time of “heightened concern,” says an outreach worker from the centre.

Paul, a sex-trade worker based in Vanier, was reported missing on Sept. 9. Her body was found in a hay field south of Ottawa, near Kars and Osgoode, on Sept. 20.

“Due to the fact that the police are looking for a possible serial killer of sex workers in the Ottawa area, we thought it was timely to put out some safety tips,” says Allison LaVigne, the community outreach worker behind the centre’s efforts.

LaVigne worked with Sarah Gott, a social work student at Algonquin College, to design posters with safety advice for sex workers and put them up around Somerset West, located on Eccles Street. The posters encourage workers to be aware of their surroundings, avoid isolated areas, and work with partners.

The centre is also launching a self-defence program, which was originally designed by sex-trade workers and police in Vancouver. The workshops will teach sex-trade workers how to physically defend themselves and also about Canadian laws surrounding self-defence.

LaVigne says the workshops use a “train-the-trainer” model that teaches women how to defend themselves against violence and then encourages them to share those tactics with other sex-trade workers. “It’s a sex worker legacy for other sex workers,” she says.

As the main distributor of Ottawa’s Safe Inhalation Program, which provides safe materials such as clean glass stems and protective mouthpieces for people in Ottawa who use drugs, LaVigne says that the Somerset West centre has a unique role in sharing safety information.

“Because we have our Needle Exchange Safer Inhalation van that goes out six days a week, we’re out doing front-of-the-line outreach with the on-the-street population,” says LaVigne. “We serve a population of survival sex workers that other organizations don’t.”

The Ottawa Police have recently shared similar tips for sex workers.

“We want the sex workers to be safe, so what we recommend is that they take on the buddy system,” says Insp. Chris Rheaume.

“You’re dealing with a type of business that is very risky to start with,” he says. “Do we condone (sex work)? Obviously not. I wouldn’t recommend that anybody get into that business. But it’s one of these things that we can work together in a partnership to try and make it safer for them.”

Not everybody believes that sharing these tips is effective.

Christine Bruckert, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa, says that sex workers are already aware of the need for these kinds of precautions.

“It’s rather annoying, the police or the community centres telling sex workers (to follow this advice) when these are things that sex workers have been doing for years,” says Bruckert.

Additionally, she says, many of these tactics are “undermined by the law” and “aggressive” policing.

On June 13, the Supreme Court heard the case of Bedford v. Canada, which challenged Canadian prostitution laws. A decision is expected later this fall.

“Really, nothing has changed in the way that women are policed. And it won’t until that decision is reached,“ says Bryonie Baxter, the executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa.

Baxter adds that policing is “driving sex work into the margins of the city, away from areas where women have supports in place, where they’re more visible.”

Along with the organization POWER, Bruckert says she is asking the police to stop enforcing laws that prevent sex workers from behaving safely — “especially in light of the fact that they’ve identified a predator.”

LaVigne says that although the Somerset West Community Health Centre’s programs may lead to immediate harm reduction, there are deeper issues that need to be addressed.

These include criminalization, stigma, poverty, addiction, and a legacy of colonialism that has left aboriginal women disproportionately affected by this violence.

“Are these simple tips and self-defence workshops enough?” says LaVigne. “Absolutely not. Society needs to address the impact it has on survival sex work.”

Full article from Centretown News

Ottawa woman’s human rights settlement sparks sweeping changes for Ontario jails

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

OTTAWA — The province of Ontario will make sweeping changes to the way its jails treat mentally ill women and administer solitary confinement after settling a human rights complaint with a bipolar and terminally ill Ottawa woman.

Christina Jahn filed a complaint against the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, alleging the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre discriminated against her by locking her up in segregation for more than 200 days instead of treating her mental illness.

On Tuesday, the ministry reached a settlement with Jahn, promising to change the way they operate by screening all inmates for mental illness, devising treatment plans and training staff to better deal with the mentally ill.

The ministry also agreed it will no longer use segregation for people with mental illness unless they can demonstrate they’ve considered and rejected all other alternatives. Inmates with a major mental illness who are placed in segregation will be examined by a psychiatrist every five days, according to the settlement.

As part of the settlement, the ministry agreed to conduct a study within the next 18 months to measure the need for a secure treatment centre for mentally ill female offenders, something critics have complained is long overdue. The province currently has a 100-bed secure treatment facility for men, but nothing for women.

The findings and recommendations of that report will be provided to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, according to the agreement. The ministry has committed to acting on the recommendations within another 18 months, or publicly explain why they won’t.

The 43-year-old Jahn, who is dying of advanced breast and bone cancer, also received a cash settlement, although the exact amount is confidential. She had been seeking a record $250,000 in damages in an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal hearing that was supposed to have started Monday. The two sides reached a settlement before the proceedings began.

“The compelling facts of this case have really caused the ministry to wake up and agree to serious systemic change for inmates with mental illness,” said Jahn’s lawyer, Paul Champ. “To the credit of the ministry, I’ve never seen a government department agree to such positive and far-reaching changes.”

Jahn said her fight wasn’t about the money.

“It was a matter of discrimination, the way I was being treated,” said Jahn.

“I think it’s a good start in order to get some change going on in the way people are treated. I hope that others after me won’t have to go through this and that people who have experienced this will come forward with their stories,” she said.

Jahn alleged that the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre discriminated against her on the grounds of mental illness and gender when they denied her cancer medication, left the lights on in her cell night and day, forced her to sleep on the floor without a mattress and shut off her cell’s water for days at a time.

She spent at least 23 hours a day in a windowless cell during separate stays at the Innes Road detention centre in 2011 and 2012.

During one of her stays, Jahn missed a scheduled surgery and chemotherapy. She needed an emergency mastectomy after being released from the jail because her cancer had become so advanced.

“It was the worst treatment I had ever had,” said Jahn, who insisted that the public interest remedies promised by the ministry be made public. “It seemed like a decision was made and I wasn’t getting out of there under any circumstances.”

Raj Dhir, a lawyer for the Ontario Human Rights Commission, said the settlement not only addresses Jahn’s experience, but the policies and procedures that led to her being placed in segregation in the first place.

“It recognizes that the lack of accessible treatment and programs, and the use of segregation, can have severe consequences for inmates with mental disabilities,” said Dhir.

“The ministry has committed to making a number of changes to better address the mental health needs of incarcerated individuals. These changes are consistent with recommendations by experts, oversight bodies and Canadian and international health and human rights organizations,” he said.

Bryonie Baxter, executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society, said the changes are long overdue.

“I think it’s a good step toward better treatment to people with mental illness in Ontario prisons,” said Baxter, who praised Jahn for being “incredibly brave” in challenging the ministry and forcing change.

“We’ve been asking for this both from the ministry and the ombudsman’s office for years. What happened to Christina could have been prevented had they moved on what was clearly a need far more quickly,” said Baxter.

Jail documents revealed Jahn, serving sentences for resisting arrest, shoplifting and causing a disturbance, was being held in segregation for no other reason than her mental illness.

It was apparent the guards thought little of Jahn, whose lawyer acknowledged she was a challenging inmate because of her mental illness. In one memo, a jail guard described her as being the “thoroughly disgusting, rude and obnoxious inmate that all staff have experienced in the past” when explaining why the water to her cell was being shut off.

Jahn alleged her treatment led to “harm to dignity, humiliation, mental anguish and reckless discrimination.”

Champ earlier alleged the jail treated Jahn in an “utterly cruel and degrading manner” and the treatment she received was the “worst to ever come before a human rights tribunal.”

As a result of the settlement, the ministry will also become more transparent. They will revise the handbook that is provided to inmates to include prisoner rights and ministry policies, and will post the document online.

Neither has ever before been done, and Jahn complained that the ministry refused to provide her with such information while she was detained.

Full Article from the Ottawa Citizen

The 8th annual October 4th Sisters In Spirit Vigils

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

On October 4 2013, The Elizabeth Fry Scoiety of Ottawa held a vigil in solidarity with The Native Women’s Association of Canada.

Ottawa jail cell birth leads to dismissal, suspensions

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Woman who gave birth to son in Ottawa-Carleton cell said jailers ignored her cries

Julie Bilotta gave birth to her first baby, a boy, while she was a prisoner at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre. (MySpace)

Employees at an Ottawa jail where a woman gave birth inside her cell last year have been disciplined following a provincial investigation.

The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services confirmed Tuesday that following a special investigation, the ministry has suspended, reprimanded or fired “both correctional and health care staff” at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre, but declined to disclose the report of its findings.

“The disciplinary actions taken include official reprimand, multi-day suspension, and dismissal,” said spokesman Brent Ross in a statement.

“These are confidential human resources matters between the employer and the employees, and it would not be appropriate to discuss the specific details or to publicly identify those who have been disciplined,” said Ross.

Didn’t believe she was in labour

Julie Bilotta of Cornwall, Ont., gave birth to her son, Gionni, on the evening of Sept. 29, 2012, without medical assistance and while she was in a segregated jail cell at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.

Bilotta has alleged guards and nurses ignored her cries of pain for several hours before she gave birth and said she was “traumatized” by the experience and the “degrading” treatment she received.

Bryonie Baxter of the Elizabeth Fry Society, a group that works with women and girls in the justice system, said this shows human rights need to be respected in jail.

“It wasn’t only Julie’s human rights that were violated in this case, it was also baby Gionni’s,” she said.

“His life was put at risk by a breech birth with no assistance.”

Lawyer wants copy of report

She was first jailed Sept. 24 when she was already about eight months pregnant.

Bilotta’s lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, said he has not received any official word from the ministry about the actions.

“Obviously these are harsh measures against individuals who at least in the eyes of the correctional services acted improperly,” said Greenspon, who added he wanted to see the report to see the basis upon which the firings and discipline were carried out.

Greenspon said once he has seen the report, he would issue a statement of claim at court for a civil lawsuit

Ottawa jail complaints 3rd highest in Ontario

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Ottawa jail complaints 3rd highest in Ontario

389 complaints in 2012-13, up from 227 just two years ago, according to 2012-13 ombudsman report

CBC News

Posted: Jul 16, 2013 2:39 PM ET

Last Updated: Jul 16, 2013 4:15 PM ET

The Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre ranked third among Ontario correctional facilities in complaints, according to the Ontario ombudsman’s 2012-13 report. (CBC)


Related Stories

Ontario G20 fence law still on books despite promises

The Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre has 389 complaints against it filed with Ontario’s ombudsman, according to the 2012-13 annual report released Tuesday, making it the third-most complained against correctional facility in the province.

Ombudsman Andre Marin released his annual report Tuesday morning. It focused on the G20 fence law, which the Ontario government promised to eliminate almost three years ago.

Complaints against the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre by annual report

2012-13: 3rd place, 389 complaints

2011-12: 3rd place, 300 complaints

2010-11: 4th place, 227 complaints

2009-10: 3rd place, 234 complaints

Marin also detailed the number of complaints for detention centres in Ontario, which looked similar to past years.

The Central North Correction Centre in Penetanguishene, Ont., was far ahead with 665 complaints and the Central East Correction Centre in Lindsay, Ont., came in second with 582.

The Innes Road jail has hovered around third place in complaints for a few years, with a consistent increase over the past two years.

In the 2011-12 report, there were 300 complaints filed, placing the jail third. In 2010-11, the report stated there were 227 complaints, placing the jail fourth.

The number of complaints has increased across the province for all jails, but the OCDC had one of the most noteworthy stories in 2012 when a woman gave birth inside her jail cell.

Complaints to Ontario ombudsman per 2012-13 annual report

Correctional facility



Central North Correctional Centre



Central East Correctional Centre



Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre



Toronto West Detention Centre



Maplehurst Correctional Complex



Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre



Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre



Vanier Centre for Women



Niagara Detention Centre



Toronto Jail



Rona Fundraiser

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Rona is pleased to introduce a new opportunity to support the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa. The fundraiser is simple. Every supporter of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa will receive a Rona discount card, which entitles the card holder to receive a 5% discount at two Rona Home and Garden locations. This discount card may be used as many times as you choose. Also, a matching donation of 5% will be made to the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa for every purchase that you make (tax included).

The two participating Rona Stores are:

Rona Home & Garden – 1880 Innes Road 613-741-6331

Rona Home & Garden – 585 West Hunt Club Road 613-226-5636

This discount card may not be combined with any other offer or promotion such as sale items, Rona gift cards, Run to Rona event, financing and/or Air Miles promotions. This is applicable for in-stock merchandise only and not for special order. Rona will donate 5% of every purchase made with the discount/donation card even if the item you purchase is not discountable.

Don’t forget to shop at Rona Home and Garden from time to time to receive your discount and to support the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa!

Please click on the following link for your Rona Discount Card: ronadiscountcard

Rona est heureux de lancer une nouvelle initative visant à soutenir la Société Elizabeth Fry d’Ottawa. La stratégie de collecte de fonds est simple. Tous les supporteurs recevront une carte de remise de Rona leurs accordant une réduction de 5% sur les produits de deux magasins Rona Home & Garden. La carte de remise peut être utilisée aussi souvent que le détenteur le désire. De plus, un don équivalent de 5% sera fait à la Société Elizabeth Fry d’Ottawa pour chaque achat que vous ferez (taxes incluses).

Les deux magasins Rona participants sont les suivants:

Rona Home & Garden – 1880, chemin Innes – 613-741-6331

Rona Home & Garden – 585, chemin Hunt Club Ouest – 613-226-5636

Click  for the Rona Discount Card:

Le carte de remise ne peut être jumelée à aucune autre offre ou promotion telle qu’un solde, une carte-cadeau Rona, un événement ‘Run to Rona’, une entente de financement ou une promotion du programme Air Miles. Cette offre s’applique uniquement à la marchandise en stock et non aux commandes spéciales ou à la marchandise installée. Rona fera un don de 5% du prix de tout achat effectué au moyen de la carte de remise/don, même si l’article acheté n’est pas admissable à une remise.

Assurez-vous de visiter votre magasin Rona de temps à autre afin de recevoir les remise auxquelles vous avez droit et pour soutenir la Société Elizabeth Fry d’Ottawa!

President Cat Baron and CEFSO/CAEFS Representative and Board Member Diana Majury receive 2013 Ontario Government Volunteer Service Awards on June 6, 2013.

Friday, June 7th, 2013
President Cat Baron and CEFSO/CAEFS Representative and Board Member Diana Majury receive 2013 Ontario Government Volunteer Service Awards on June 6, 2013.  Cat has been volunteering with the agency as a Board member since November 2007 and Diana has been volunteering with the agency as a Board member since 2005.

President Cat Baron and CEFSO/CAEFS Representative and Board Member Diana Majury receive 2013 Ontario Government Volunteer Service Awards on June 6, 2013. Cat has been volunteering with the agency as a Board member since November 2007 and Diana has been volunteering with the agency as a Board member since 2005.

The scary reality of being pregnant in prison

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Prison inmate Julie Bilotta made headlines when she nearly died giving birth in jail. We uncover the shocking reality of what it means to be pregnant behind bars in Canada.


· Lisa Gregoire,

Originally published on January 23, 2013

Photo: Claudiad/iStockphoto

Julie Bilotta, the Cornwall-born inmate who gave birth to her first son, Gionni, on the floor of a jail cell at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre September 29 because guards and nurses didn’t believe she was in labour, is still awaiting the outcome of three separate investigations into her shocking birth story.

Bilotta and baby Gionni have been living at J. F. Norwood House, a transition residence run by the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa, since she was released from custody in October. Her bail conditions impose a strict curfew and staff supervision when she leaves the facility. Other JFNH residents, many of them separated or estranged from their own children, have been delighted to help care for the baby boy.

Bilotta, who was eight months pregnant and in remand custody awaiting trial on fraud- and drug-related charges, underwent a blood transfusion as a result of excessive blood loss during the high-risk, breech birth. Her release from custody was likely due to the barrage of media coverage. But most women’s complaints from behind bars go unheeded and unnoticed. (In an eerily similar account of neglect, 35-year-old Kinew James died January 20 of an apparent heart attack at a Corrections Canada psychiatric prison in Saskatoon. Fellow inmates say guards ignored a distress alarm and her repeated calls for help. Corrections Canada is now reviewing the circumstances of James’ death.)

Elizabeth Fry Societies across Canada provide assistance to women involved in the Canadian criminal justice system and advocate for the rights of women in prison. Bryonie Baxter, the executive director of the Ottawa society, was instrumental in raising Bilotta’s concerns — and what she calls the systemic abuses that women endure behind bars, especially regarding healthcare. “They punished her for being in labour. It’s barbaric,” said Baxter. “And regardless of what you think about the rights of the mother, we have to think of how the rights of the child have been violated.” The Ontario Minister of Correctional Services, the provincial ombuds office and the Ontario College of Nurses are all investigating why Bilotta’s cries for help resulted in guards shuttling her into segregation instead of an ambulance.

Here are a few things you may not know about pregnancy and prison in Canada:

· There are no special facilities for incarcerated mothers. If you give birth in a federal or provincial prison, custody of the baby goes to a willing and able kin or to the Children’s Aid Society. Visitation thereafter is through glass.

· According to Corrections Canada, two thirds of incarcerated women have children under five years of age. Corrections Canada, under the Institutional Mother-Child Program, can allow women convicts to have their babies live with them behind bars on a full or part-time basis, but because of prison overcrowding, or the preference of individual wardens, it rarely happens, Baxter says.

· Women prisoners are entitled to the same level of healthcare as free women but Baxter has a long list of complaints from women whose health was compromised by inadequate access to care. Baxter described one 2010 case of a pregnant woman at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre who thought she was having a miscarriage because of profuse bleeding. They put the woman in the back of a Corrections van instead of calling an ambulance and stopped at a Tim Horton’s on the way to hospital.

· Julie Bilotta was nearing her due date and not yet guilty of a crime when she was placed in remand custody to await trial. People are placed in remand prior to trial for three reasons: because they are a flight risk, a danger to the public or, in order to maintain confidence in the administration of justice. There are presently more adults in jail awaiting trial in this country than those found guilty and serving a sentence

Editor’s note: Author Lisa Gregoire is an Ottawa writer and board member of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa.

Kinew James – Dead inmate in Saskatoon spoke of Ashley Smith

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Kim Mackrael

OTTAWA – Globe and Mail

An inmate who died last weekend at the Saskatoon Regional Psychiatric Centre told a judge in 2011 that she had “a lot more strength” than Ashley Smith and was expecting to get herself out of the prison system.

Kinew James, 35, was found unresponsive in her cell early Sunday morning and was later declared dead of an apparent heart attack, according to her mother. Other inmates at the prison have told the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies that Ms. James had called for medical assistance multiple times over the course of an hour or more before help arrived.

Her death has prompted comparisons to Ms. Smith, the 19-year-old Moncton woman who strangled herself to death in 2007 at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ont., while prison staff watched but did not intervene. An inquest into Ms. Smith’s death is ongoing.

Ms. James spent several years at Grand Valley Institution, where she was frequently placed in segregation cells, before she was transferred to the Saskatoon facility.

She had a history of mental health problems and had deliberately harmed herself in the past, according to Kim Pate, executive director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies.

In a May, 2011, court appearance in Kitchener, Ont., Ms. James rejected a judge’s attempt to draw a comparison to Ms. Smith, according to the Waterloo Region Record.

“I’m not Ashley Smith,” she said, according to the newspaper.

“I have a lot more strength than she did…I got my Grade 12,” she added. “I want out of jail. I know I will get out.”

Ms. James entered the corrections system when she was 18, her mother said.

Her sentence at the time was six years, but she accumulated a string of other charges that increased it to more than 15 years. Her charges included manslaughter, assault, uttering threats, arson, mischief and obstruction of justice.

Her mother, Grace Campbell, said she spoke with Ms. James by phone the night before she died, and the two talked about what she would do after her release from prison, which she expected would happen late this summer.

Her daughter frequently talked about her plans for the future, Ms. Campbell said from her home in Winnipeg. “And I told her, that, you know, I can’t wait. Like I’ve been saying this to her every year … I would tell her, please don’t do anything [to extend the prison sentence] again.”

She said her daughter was soft-spoken and a good listener. “She was a good cook, she was a good craftsperson, she was good all around.”

Bryonie Baxter, the executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa, said she visited Ms. James at the Grand Valley Institution.

She said she believes Ms. James was at the prison for women for about four years before she was transferred to the Saskatoon psychiatric centre.

Ms. Baxter said she doesn’t know what will come of the allegations that help was slow to arrive for Ms. James. But she added that they fit into a pattern of health-care related concerns in prisons.

Last fall, Julie Bilotta gave birth prematurely in her segregation cell at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre, a provincial prison. Her mother has told reporters that Ms. Bilotta’s cries for help were ignored for hours, a claim the province has said it is investigating.

“The idea that health care concerns are not responded to quickly enough, or that women’s health care concerns are minimized, I would say is fairly endemic in Canadian prisons – both provincial and federal,” Ms. Baxter said.

Canada’s correctional investigator and the Correctional Service of Canada are both looking into the circumstances of Ms. Kinew’s death.

Asked about medical staffing at the Saskatoon Regional Psychiatric Centre, a spokeswoman for the Correctional Service of Canada said the department provides inmates with essential health care and “reasonable access to non-essential mental health care.

“The Regional Psychiatric Centre is an accredited medical institution and is staffed with medical personnel on a 24/7 basis,” Christa McGregor wrote in an e-mail.

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