60 inmates at Ontario jail test positive for COVID-19

The Canadian Press
Liam Casey

A jail in Brampton, Ont., will be temporarily shut down after authorities said 60 inmates and eight staff tested positive for COVID-19.
The Ministry of the Solicitor General said all inmates from the Ontario Correctional Institute would be moved to the Toronto South Detention Centre.
A spokeswoman for the ministry said the Brampton jail would close on Tuesday to undergo a deep cleaning.
“Inmates are receiving medical care as required,” said Kristy Denette.
Denette said the 109 inmates transferred from the Brampton jail would not mix with those currently at Toronto South.
The Brampton jail is a specialized treatment centre and is the province’s only medium-security facility, according to a 2017 independent review of Ontario correctional facilities.
The Toronto jail has “a modern health-care unit with medical isolation units and appropriate resources, to effectively manage and support inmates with COVID-19,” Denette said.
The union that represents prison guards in the provincial jail system said all correctional staff from the Ontario Correctional Institute will self-isolate for 14 days.
“It’s probably the best decision because the institution is all dormitory,” said Chris Jackel with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.
“It’s like one big room together with 30 beds and each bed is four or five feet apart. It’s barracks style.”
He said the eight correctional staff who tested positive for COVID-19 are doing well and none have been hospitalized.
The guards and the ministry have been battling over the use of personal protection equipment in jails over the past month during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They remain apart in negotiations on the standardized use of face masks in jails, with masks only being given out in certain circumstances.
Jackel said guards were finally allowed to wear masks at the Brampton jail once the Region of Peel’s public health unit declared a COVID-19 outbreak in the jail last week. The declaration came after three correctional officers tested positive for the disease.
Peel spokesman Jeff LeMoine said all inmates have been pre-emptively tested for COVID-19.