Fentanyl overdoses in jail endanger corrections staff: union

Staff at CECC in Lindsay, Ont., say they need more protection from illegal fentanyl making its way into the institution. Dan Nyznik / CHEX News

Correctional officers at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont., say they’re concerned about an increase in the amount of fentanyl getting inside the facility. In the past week, there have been two cases that sent five people to hospital.

READ MORE: Fentanyl crisis growing in Alberta prisons, exposing guards: ‘It’s very scary’

An inmate was found Sept. 1, 2017, with vital signs absent, said OPSEU local president and correctional officer, Chris Butsch. On Sept. 6, 2017, correctional officers found a powdery substance believed to be fentanyl, he added. The substance contaminated an inmate and four staff, and while all recovered well, Butsch says too little is being done to protect officers and medical staff.

Chris Butsch, union president. Dan Nyznik / CHEX News

“The response is always slow with the government. It seems to trickle down very slowly from the top,” Butsch said. “I want them to come and sit down at the table and have a conversation with us on how we can work together and deal with this crisis because staff are dropping at these institutions and going out to hospitals.”

READ MORE: New study suggests cannabis could help in opioid crisis

Story continues below advertisement

Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott is also pressuring the Liberal government to step up its safety measures in Ontario jails.

Laurie Scott, MPP. Dan Nyznik / CHEX News

“The government has been talking about addressing this crisis, yet they haven’t,” she said. “We’ve said, ‘Stop spending money on government advertising,’ and divert even 10 per cent of your $57-million advertising budget over to the opioid crisis.”

Fentanyl is an addictive opioid drug used to relieve severe pain. It’s also become a drug of choice for addicts. Scott says the government could divert some of its budget for training and better protective equipment inside correctional institutions.

READ MORE: Fentanyl contributed to hundreds of deaths in Canada so far this year

The Ministry of Correctional Services did not respond to requests for an interview on Thursday.