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MTC saved on personnel
Kim Goggins, The Mirror
Apr 28th, 2006

Private jail project fails

Canada's only privately-operated jail will return to the public sector in the fall.

Although cost was a factor in the decision of whether or not to keep Penetanguishene's prison privately run, in the end, lower costs offered through Management & Training Corporation (MTC) of Utah wasn't enough to maintain its role as the operator of the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC).

Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister, Monte Kwinter announced yesterday that the jail will be transferred into the public sector when the contract expires Nov. 10, 2006.

"Our concern was to make sure we were providing a facility that was adequately looking after the people that we have responsibility for, the inmates, that we make sure their health-care provisions are provided for; that we make sure their recidivism rates (are minimized)," Kwinter said in a telephone interview with The Mirror shortly after the decision was announced.

"We want to make sure that there is integration back into the community and there is adequate facilities to do that, and adequate personnel resources to do that," he said.

"When we took a look at it, we just found we were getting better results (at Central East Correctional Centre). Mind you, it's going to cost us more money - but everything is a trade off. Overall, we felt the citizens of Ontario would be better served with this facility being back in public hands."

Although the decision is disappointing for MTC, public relations director Peter Mount says the private operator will continue to work with the ministry.

"We're going to work and continue to work very closely with our partners at the ministry, especially during this transition period," Mount said.

"Our responsibility is and always will be the safety of the public, the staff and the inmates. That's going to continue during the transitional period."

For local resident Sharon Dion, who has campaigned against the privatization of the prison since it was announced in 1999, the decision came as a welcomed surprise.

"It's such a triumphant day for Canada," said Dion, who received a call from Queen's Park shortly after the decision was made. "I'm really praising the Liberal government for making the right decision."

MTC was chosen to operate CNCC in May 2001 as part of a five-year pilot project. During that period, the identical CECC opened as a publicly-operated facility.

To help the province make the decision, a comparison study between the two was done on a number of key areas like security, programming; inmate classification; the variety and volume of programming; programming quality; programming effectiveness; continuum of services; recidivism (rates of reoffending), health care and community impact.

"(The comparison summary) shows that in most areas CECC ..... was superior," noted Kwinter. "The other thing is that one of the key concerns ... is the contract really provided the facility with less personnel than we were using to ministry standards in the (Lindsay) facility and (they're) identical. To me, it didn't make any sense as to why they would do that and it's reflected in the outcome."

Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop said he wasn't surprised by the outcome because of Liberal promises made when the Conservatives privatized the jail in 1999.

"(Premier Dalton) McGuinty hasn't kept many promises, but it looks like he kept this one," he said.

In the next six months, the ministry will be working with MTC, the employees and with the union to make that transition as seamless as possible, says Kwinter.

"We need personnel to run that facility and we're going to have an increase in personnel because we're going to staff it up to the level that we do in (Lindsay)," he said. "So, what is going to happen, obviously, there will be opportunities for more jobs."

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