Civil rights teams object to ‘unconstitutional’ emergency order in Thunder Bay

A group of civil rights organizations are calling on the Thunder Bay District Health Commissioner to lift an emergency decree for released inmates that is said to be unconstitutional.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Ontario HIV and AIDS Legal Clinic, and Aboriginal Legal Services released a joint media release Monday detailing Dr. Janet DeMille on February 8th is referred to as a violation of legal authority.

Under this order, all inmates released from Thunder Bay District Prison must go straight to designated isolation shelter for assessment and undergo COVID-19 tests. Those who are infected or at risk of contracting COVID-19 must remain in isolation for as long as directed. If they are determined that they have no alternative or sensible option, they must remain in the isolation home.

Abby Deshman, director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s criminal justice program, said this particular emergency order was unprecedented.

Abby Deshman is the director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s criminal justice program. (CBC / Skype)

“There are laws in place that set out what health officials can and can’t do,” Deshman said, adding that this order goes further than any other public health order the association has seen.

“They just can’t go that far. It is not legal for them to issue an order that a certain group of people in a community must be imprisoned this way.”

Outbreaks in the prison and Thunder Bay Correctional Center were first reported in early January, with dozens of confirmed cases at each facility.

The health unit has also reported an outbreak in the homeless and precariously housed population of Thunder Bay.

In a letter to DeMille, the groups raise a number of questions related to the February 8 emergency order, including the order, which will not be made public, citing their absence on the Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU website) ), on which a newer class is represented Order is available.

Deshman said indigenous peoples will be disproportionately affected by the February 8 regulation.

“Thunder Bay prison is home to large numbers of indigenous people. Many of these people will face precarious housing conditions and may not have a safe place to be released. As a result, they are detained disproportionately,” Deshman said.

“These are not measures taken in response to the general public health situation in Thunder Bay. These are measures specifically targeted at this population. Certainly this population needs support, but that support has to work within the law . “”

Deshman said the organizations had not yet received a response from the health unit.

“From our point of view, it is clearly illegal,” she said. “If we don’t get a response soon, we may start other legal remedies.”

CBC News requested comment from TBDHU but was informed that the health unit was unable to comment at the time.

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