Former EMDC inmates' lawsuit continues to grow
As a strike or lockout looms for unionized corrections staff at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre, there is also a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of former inmates.
Members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) could strike as early as January 10 or the Province could decide to lock them out.
The conditions inside the jail, which are key to the union's demands, are also the focus of the class-action lawsuit.
More than 400 inmates have joined a $325-million lawsuit against the province so far. Kevin Egan, a lawyer for the McKenzie Lake law firm believes that more than 9,000 inmates could add their names.
"The phone calls have been coming for several years, really since 2011. The flood gates opened when inmates began to realize that maybe they had an opportunity to voice their concerns,” he says.
Those concerns range from the overcrowding and lack of ability to get proper medical care, to systemic routine of violence.
"I think, to a great extent, both sides - the inmates and the guards - have accepted that violence is part of the daily routine at EMDC because nobody is there to put a stop to it."
Egan’s words are echoed by OPSEU.
“The way things are getting, not too many people are safe," says OPSEU Local 108 president Dominic Bragaglia.
Bragaglia says the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services has spent millions preparing for the strike, which is expected to be long.
"They've hired security firms. They've made structural changes to various institutions to accommodate managers staying there for long term."
Bragaglia isn’t sure just how long it will last.
“I don't know if managers can sustain this. They've got a lot of them coming in; got people hired who were retired...They can't do the job the way we do. So is it going to last long? I don't know. It depends on how many rules they are willing to break on the inside for it."
CTV News contacted the ministry about preparation plans for a possible strike and how the inmates will be affected, but did not receive a response by deadline.