Still solitary…

March 2, 2016

Toronto Star – Amy Dempsey
Data reveal ‘shocking’ numbers of Ontario inmates in solitary – More than 1,600 inmates were admitted to solitary confinement at two jails over a five-month period last year.

Solitary confinement in prison is widely acknowledged as detrimental to the health, physical and mental, and has been broadly condemned for excesses well beyond the basis damages.  In this report, only two jails are highlighted and only women inmates identified.  What is genuinely perplexing is why these numbers continue to be so high and why there is no redress for an acknowledged violation of human rights.

Ottawa Citizen Editorial Mar 2, 2016) – Tyler Dawson
Solitary confinement must go. Here’s how it can be done.

Dawson want to start talking about abolition of confinement because the practice of solitary is entrenched in the prisons as a first response to most every problem. The effects are horrendous and to quote Charles Dickens “(The prisoner in solitary confinement) is a man buried alive; to be dug out in the slow round of years; and in the meantime dead to everything but torturing anxieties and horrible despair.”  Dawson is calling for oversight in the prison system starting with the avowed intent to make the prison system more response to the needs of the inmates.   Related article: Toronto Star Editorial (Feb. 29, 2016)   Make solitary confinement truly a last resort    Related article:  Toronto Star – Amy Dempsey   Ontario human rights chief calls for end to prison solitary confinement

Globe and Mail – Robert Fife
Canadian agency given deadline by U.S. body to clean up food safety

Canada has already had a crisis in the exportation of beef following the mad cow disease.  Now, the US Drug and Food Administration which has audited Canada’s inspection service says that the inspection of meat, poultry and eggs meets core requirements but has “operation weaknesses related to government oversight, plant sanitation and microbiological testing” for listeria, salmonella and E. coli, according to a final report submitted to CFIA on Jan. 14.” – Andrew Coyne
Canada is making suicide a public service. Have we lost our way as a society?

The recent discussions both in Parliament and in public around assisted dying does not seem to lack any passions on either side or sides of the debate.  Coyne offers his summary of the issue and then elaborates: “Assisted suicide was thus presented, paradoxically, as a way of extending life, rather than shortening it, sparing patients from what the court called the “cruel choice” to which they would otherwise be subject: kill themselves while they were able, at the cost perhaps of several years of life, rather than endure the pain and indignity that might come with waiting for nature to take its course Yet the court’s decision did not depend upon this dilemma being present. It was enough that a competent adult was suffering, intolerably and irremediably, and wanted help killing himself. The necessity of the assistance was not at issue.”   Related article:  Hill Times-on-line – Abbas Rana   Conservative MP Wagantall’s private member’s bill causing fissures in Conservative caucus  Related article: Ottawa Citizen  – Elizabeth Payne   Ottawa’s biggest palliative care hospital says it won’t offer assisted dying  Related article: National Newswatch – Canadian Press   ‘My time has come:’ Alberta court gives woman doctor-assisted death exemption    Cardinal Collins (Catholic archbishop of Toronto)     Statement and Call to Action from Cardinal Thomas Collins Concerning Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide

Globe and Mail – Justin Giovanetti
Alberta reserves struggle to access fentanyl antidote

The availability of a drug treatment drug, naloxone, for overdose of the new and highly deadly fentanyl continues to be problem on Alberta’s Indigenous Reserves.  The antidote is usually in a kit for the use of front line emergency workers but is in short supply.  272 people died from fentanyl overdoses last year.  There is also some controversy, and delays, about educating and offering the anti-dote to front line workers, including nurses on the reserves, vs doctors.