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More on MTC's ousting
Midland Free Press April 28, 2006

Superjail is going public

PENETANGUISHENE Canada’s first privately operated adult prison is being turned over to the province.

Central North Correctional Centre, which opened in 2001 and has been run by Management and Training Corporation since, will be operated by the provincial government, effective Nov. 10, 2006, when MTC's five-year contract expires.

The Ministry of Community Safety and Corrections made the announcement Thursday after completing a report comparing CNCC with its physical twin in Kawartha Lakes, which is publicly run.

A decision on the prison's future was needed six months prior to the current contract expiring.

"On just a cost basis the (private operation) was more economical," corrections minister Monte Kwinter told Osprey News Thursday afternoon, "but that reflected on the outcome.

"Management and Training Corporation was in material compliance with the (existing) contract, but there's no question that health care was delivered better at the Kawartha Lakes facility and that integration was better at the Kawartha Lakes facility," Kwinter said.

"We have a responsibility to make sure we provide adequate resources, and while there's no question there were some benefits from this exercise that we could learn from," he said. "The evidence clearly indicates that the public facility produced better results."

The province opened CNCC under a private-public partnership after a Conservative overhaul of Ontario's prison system in the 1990s. CECC opened soon after with the idea of comparing the facilities based on cost effectiveness and performance.

Price Waterhouse Coopers, a consulting firm, conducted a comparison review on CNCC and CECC for the province over an extended timeframe. Part of that review shows the public prison rated higher than CNCC in eight of 10 performance categories, including security and community impact.

CNCC spokesperson Peter Mount said he was surprised by the decision of the government not to renew the company's contract and called it “disappointing."

“We will begin the process of talking to staff right away,” said Mount, adding the U.S.-based company intends to continue working with the province until its contract expires.

"We have a responsibility and we will continue to live up to that responsibility," he said. "We will work closely with the government to ensure safety is looked after."

Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop, who has been a proponent of the private jail and who's also the Conservative corrections critic, wasn’t thrilled by Thursday's announcement.

“The Liberals are in power and they have the ability to do this," he said. "I’m going to live with the decision, but I just hope they’ll provide us with the numbers.”

In September of 2004, Dunlop estimated that having the jail run by a private operator saved taxpayers more than $20 million annually, according to financial figures he had seen at the time.

"I think there was a substantial savings there. I'd like them to show me in black and white, without fudging the numbers, what it actually was," he said. "That should be something that's available. What's to hide?"

For Penetanguishene resident Sharon Dion, an opponent of privatized prisons, was pleased by the government's decision to go public.

"It's an enormous victory. I couldn't be more pleased. It's a great day for all Canadians," said Dion, of Citizens Against Privatized Prisons. "I was a little concerned at times about this review, but I think the consultation was done in an honest manner on the government's part."

Kwinter said details still need to be ironed out, but the province plans to provide 91 additional staff at the Penetanguishene prison when it takes over in November.

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