Minister Tackles Overcrowding Issue At EMDC

The Ministry of Safety and Correctional Services is moving ahead with a plan to build an addition to the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre, in an effort to address overcrowding at the facility.

Minister Yasir Naqvi toured the detention centre on Wednesday, and says the new building next to EMDC will be a regional intermittent centre to separately house inmates who serve their sentence during the weekend.

“What we know is that overcrowding takes place over the weekend when these intermittent inmates come in. That’s where a lot of the challenges take place. By seperating them, we significantly deal with the capacity issue,” says Naqvi. “When a lot of those intermittent offenders come in is when you get a lot of the contraband and illegal substances coming into the detention centre. By seperating the two populations, we will make the working conditions much safer for our correctional staff, and safer for inmates.”

Naqvi says the ministry has submitted a proposal to build the new 120-bed facility and it is hoped that the project will break ground in December. The minister says if everything goes to plan, the new facility will be up and running by this time next year.

A similar suggestion to the overcrowding issue at EMDC was made by Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek. He stated utilizing the former Regional Mental Health Facility near St. Thomas could handle intermittent inmates.

Naqvi says building a new facility next to EMDC will accomplish the same goal.

“At the crux of it, it’s exactly what we’re doing. We need to separate intermittent inmates from inmates (who) are there for longer sentences,” he says. “From a cost perspective, we feel that (the new facility) is the most cost effective way of doing it.”

Because the proposal for the new facility has only just been submitted, Naqvi says, at this time, he cannot disclose how much it will cost to build the new regional intermittent inmate centre.

– With files from Ashton Patis.