Drug trafficking and overdoses are exhausting correctional officers at Agassiz’s Mountain Institution, according to the regional head of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO).
John Randle, the UCCO’s Pacific region president said officers have to deal with multiple drone deliveries carrying drugs to inmates each day. In a recent seizure, officers nabbed nearly 200 grams of cannabis concentrate and nearly 100 grams of methamphetamine.
UCCO confirmed two Mountain Institution inmates overdosed over the course of a week recently. The union recently denounced the CSC’s newly implemented Prison Needle Exchange Program (PNEP) due to safety risks.
“Two inmates have very recently died of drug overdoses because they were left to use drugs alone in their cells,” Randle stated. “This second overdose at Mountain highlights the ineffectiveness of the PNEP program and shows that the CSC has no intention of releasing inmates drug-free to the community. The tick-box approach by CSC falls on the backs of the public to continue to battle opioids and crime wave plaguing our communities.”
PNEP has been rolling out across Canada since 2018 and is now at nine federal facilities. The goal of the program is to prevent sharing needles and spreading blood-borne disease.
Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon MP Brad Vis said the prison system does not need needles or illicit substances in an already hazardous work environment.
“Dangerous and illegal drugs are already contraband at prisons,” Vis stated. “Yet the Liberal government has directed the (CSC) to provide needles for inmates to inject substances they aren’t supposed to have in their possession. This makes no sense.”
Vis has sponsored a petition headed by the UCCO calling for the cancellation of PNEP.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.