Serial killer ex-nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer was apparently transferred from prison to a psychiatric hospital because of concerns about her mental health.
That’s something one official says only happens in “severe” cases when correctional staff can no longer cope.
As Global News reported first on Wednesday, Wettlaufer is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years for murdering eight seniors at the nursing home where she worked for years. She was sentenced in June 2017 but in March 2018, was moved from prison to the Institut Philippe-Pinel de Montreal, which operates a psychiatric unit for women serving federal sentences.
The website for the Institut says that “all patients” there can take part in music, art, theatre, sports and horticultural personal development programs.
It also says that the education centre in the facility offers internet access, which prisoners in ordinary prisons do not get.
WATCH BELOW: Serial killer ex-nurse Wettlaufer moved to psychiatric hospital
Shortly before question period began on Thursday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told reporters that Wettlaufer was transferred because of her “mental health” but did not provide further details.
“The issues there are related to mental health issues,” Goodale said.
“Obviously without getting into the details of any particular case, that is a decision that is taken on the basis of two critical things. Number one, what is necessary to keep the public safe? And that is the overriding consideration, public safety, and number two, to deal with any particular individual’s individual circumstances.”
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A government official said correctional staff only send inmates to the Institut when there are “severe psychiatric issues that exceed what personnel can deal with in an ordinary institution” and that the secure unit where federal prisoners are housed does not have computer access.
The individual said in those cases, it is better not only for public safety but also for the safety of correctional staff to move inmates with “challenging” psychiatric issues to another facility.
The official did not say what led to that determination in this case.
WATCH BELOW: Families of Elizabeth Wettlaufer’s victims speak publicly
Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt slammed the transfer on Thursday, saying the families of victims deserve better.
News of Wettlaufer’s transfer comes as the Liberals face a second week of hammering over the transfers and treatment of prisoners in the correctional system.
It began with Conservatives demanding answers about why Chris Garnier, a convicted murderer who never served in the Canadian military, was having the cost of treatment for the PTSD he claimed he got from murdering an off-duty cop paid for by Veterans Affairs Canada.
Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan said critics were asking him to reveal personal health information about Garnier’s father, who is a veteran, by talking about the decision to cover the treatment for his son.
While the Liberals announced such coverage would not be allowed going forward, the government did not apply that decision retroactively to revoke Garnier’s benefits.
Days later, news broke that Terri-Lynne McClintic, convicted of first-degree murder in the 2009 killing of eight-year-old Tori Stafford, had been moved from a federal prison to an aboriginal healing lodge in Saskatchewan after serving less than half of the time before her parole eligibility kicks in.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Conservatives demanding the government step in to revoke the transfer and change the rules are “ambulance-chasing politicians” and refused to take part in a vote on a Conservative motion condemning the transfer on Wednesday afternoon.
While a review of that transfer and the rules allowing it are underway, there has been no change in the decision so far.
— With files from Global News’ Abigail Bimman.