May 14, 2020

HuffPost (Canada) – Samantha Beattie
Government Taken to Court Over ‘Cruel’ Treatment of Prisoners during COVID-19 Pandemic – Human rights groups demand Correctional Service Canada release prisoners amid the COVID-19 crisis.

A group advocating for prisoner justice has initiated a lawsuit against Corrections Canada claiming that CSC has failed to protect the prisoners thereby violating their human rights.  The applicants – the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), Canadian Prison Law Association, HIV and Aids Legal Clinic Ontario and HIV Legal Network, as well as Sean Johnston, an inmate at Warkworth penitentiary near Peterborough, Ont. – filed suit after 333 prisoners were identified with the virus and two were dead from Covid-19.  ““This application is really about making sure CSC is doing everything in its power to keep people safe in institutions and release people so they can socially distance,” CCLA lawyer Abby Deshman told HuffPost Canada.”  The lawsuit application says that women are 43 times more likely than the general population to contract the virus and that men are 12 times more likely.   Related article: The Canadian Civil Liberties Association  (CCLA)  and partners file legal case against the Correctional Service of Canada     Related article: Globe and Mail – Sean Fine   Rights advocates file legal challenge to ‘depopulate’ federal prisons and prevent COVID-19 spread   Related article: CP 24 News – Canadian Press  Convicted murderer sues feds over prison conditions during COVID-19  Related article: Justin Piché – Update on Coronavirus Numbers    Related article: Lawyer’s Daily – Beverly McLachlin  Access to Justice: Visionary thinking to update a legacy system

UN on Economic and Social Implications of the Covid-19 Pandemic
Joining Forces: Effective Policy Solutions for Covid-19 Response

The site addresses from the UN perspective a number of specific social and economic concerns revealed or created by the pandemic.  The link includes a two hour video on the development of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).  There are contributions from many of the U.N.  member agencies that monitor the social and economic impact across the world.

Toronto Star – Sara Mojtehedzadeh
A study urged better standards for migrant workers’ housing. Nothing was done. Now COVID-19 has struck

While nursing care and retirement homes have been the center of focus for hotspots of the Covid-19 virus for some time already, farms employing migrant workers are beginning to show on the stats.  This report reveals some of the work and living conditions among the migrant workers involved in planting, picking and packing farm produce for our tables.  The migrant force is in Canada under temporary work permits and efforts to provide safe working conditions and suitable housing / living arrangements have been an issue for some time, well before the pandemic.

The Lawyer’s Daily – Luis Millan
Overturning of ‘obsolete’ record suspension rules, cheered by criminal lawyers

Federal Court Justice Sylvie Roussel has ruled that “retroactive record suspension eligibility requirements to be unconstitutional, opening the door to thousands of offenders across the country to be eligible for a pardon.”  Reaction was swift and positive from the criminal lawyers and those advocating for a return to real pardons vs record suspension and the restrictions placed on offenders.  “Like many of the ‘tough on crime’ measures introduced by the previous Conservative government, the amendments to the Criminal Records Act that made it harder for offenders to obtain pardons were purely political tools,” said Ewan Lyttle, an Ottawa criminal lawyer with Lyttle McGarry Del Greco LLP. “They were an easy way to communicate to voters that the government was being tough on crime. In reality, those amendments did nothing to make the public safer, or reduce crime. And now, the Federal Court has found that they were a double-dose of useless punishment.”  (cf also related articles at the link)

Policy Options (Canada) – Naheed Dosani
A quarter of a million Canadians are homeless. We need to find the political and moral will after the pandemic to find shelter for all of them.

Dosani is a physician who cares for homeless street people, many with illness and mental health problems.  He thinks he has a solution to the homeless crisis in that Covid-19 has forced some changes and re-thinking of the solutions to the problem.  “…the key to addressing homelessness is to give homeless people a home. Simple, I know. But for decades we have been trying to deliver case management, mental health care, medical care and many other services to people on the street or in shelters. And it hasn’t been working…It turns out that when somebody has a reliable roof over their head, it is a lot easier to deliver these services with success. In Medicine Hat, AB, officials have nearly eliminated chronic homelessness through this strategy. Nonetheless, it has never been scaled up across Canada.”    Related article: TVO – Nathaniel Basen   COVID-19: Last week today with epidemiologist David Fisman

The Marshall Project (US) – Alysia Santo
Jails Turn to UVC Robots – To Fight Coronavirus some sheriffs are buying ultraviolet light machines traditionally used by hospitals.

Ultra violet rays are the latest in health care in jails in the US.  The devices, commonly used in hospital and for destroying bacteria in water supply, they are showing up in prisons to help combat Covid-19.  Prisons have a reluctant to make alcohol based disinfectant available so at $80,000 to $100,000 per machine the robot bathes a room in a blue light.  The rays, depending on the intensity, may carry their own dangers for humans.