The Rivière-des-Prairies Detention Facility in Montreal is grappling with a major COVID-19 outbreak, forcing the prison to confine inmates due to understaffing.
At least “56 inmates and 11 employees” of the prison had tested positive for COVID-19 late Friday afternoon, confirms the spokesperson at the Ministry of Public Security (MSP), Marie-Josée Montminy.
Inmates will therefore be assigned to their cells until the affected employees are replaced.
Photo Roger Ganon
Mathieu Lavoie. Union of Peace Officers
“We were already in dire need of staff, more than 40% below the adequate number of employees to run a prison establishment. There were already service cuts, but there, with COVID, it is sure that it is even worse, ”points out Mathieu Lavoie, president of the Union of peace officers in correctional services of Quebec.
Some 310 people incarcerated in Rivière-des-Prairies have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to the MSP.
However, it is impossible to know the number of correctional officers immunized since the profession is not subject to compulsory vaccination.
Eight inmates and a correctional officer from the Sherbrooke Detention Facility also contracted COVID-19 in the past few days.
The transfer of an asymptomatic inmate incarcerated in Rivière-des-Prairies to this prison would be responsible for the contamination, according to Mr. Lavoie.
“We knew there were cases of COVID in Rivière-des-Prairies. Tests had already been done, ”assures the president, who believes that there have been“ management gaps ”in the Montreal prison.