Results / Reports
An elderly man who had previously held an Ontario driver’s license recently returned to Canada from overseas and applied for a PEI driver’s license through Service PEI. He was told that because the country he moved from did not have a reciprocal driver’s license agreement with PEI, and because his former Ontario driver’s license had expired, he would need to apply for a new license and take all applicable knowledge and road tests.
We contacted the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure about the man’s concerns and were told that because the man held an Ontario license in the recent past, he could be issued a PEI driver’s license without the need to re-test. The Service PEI agent was unfamiliar with this policy. Our office facilitated a meeting between the complainant and a senior manager that resulted in the man receiving a PEI driver’s license.
Phone Calls from Prison
A woman incarcerated at the Provincial Correctional Centre (PCC) complained that she was being prevented from contacting her mother and the Prince Edward Island Regulatory & Appeals Commission (IRAC) by phone. This was preventing her from making an appeal that would allow her to keep her home.
We contacted PCC and were told that there was no reason that woman should be prevented from calling either her mother or IRAC. PCC explained that a staff error caused the confusion and that it would add both phone numbers to the woman’s approved contact list. We confirmed this occurred.
Healthcare in Prison, Side Effects
A man incarcerated at the Provincial Correctional Centre (PCC) complained about his medical care. He was experiencing significant adverse side effects from a treatment he was receiving. Despite asking numerous times to be seen by a physician to address his symptoms, he was not responded to. We contacted the PCC to explain the man’s concerns. Very shortly thereafter the man was seen by a medical professional and began receiving the medical treatment he needed.
An elderly woman under trusteeship complained that the Public Trustee had not completed her tax returns and was refusing to allow her to move to another care home. She explained that the Trustee was not returning her calls to answer her questions. We contacted the Public Trustee who explained that the woman’s taxes were in fact filed. The Trustee explained that they did not have say over where she could live. We relayed this information to the woman and facilitated contact between her and the Trustee regarding her desire to move.
Phone Call List for Inmate
A man incarcerated at the Provincial Correctional Centre (PCC) complained that he was being prevented from contacting his sister. Staff at the PCC denied the request because they believed he was lying about their relationship. Our investigator confirmed their relationship. We relayed that information to PCC. They made their own enquiries and confirmed to us that they decided to add her to the inmate’s call list.
Inmate Strip Search
Three inmates at the Provincial Correctional Centre (PCC) in Charlottetown were subject to a group strip search in front of two correctional officers, despite their objections. Under threat of being placed into separate confinement if they refused, the three men complied. Despite bringing complaints against the officers involved, the men did not believe their concerns were being adequately addressed by PCC management. Two of the men submitted complaints to OmbudsPEI.
We contacted the PCC through our informal resolution process to relay the complaints and pose preliminary questions. PCC confirmed that the search contravened centre policy, and that the matter was being investigated. We were advised that the staff involved in the search were new correctional officers working on a casual basis there. PCC confirmed they violated centre policy despite receiving training on how to conduct strip searches to maintain the privacy and dignity of inmates. PCC suggested that there may have been a misunderstanding of the instructions given to the officers by a floor supervisor.
In response to this issue, PCC provided additional training and one-on-one coaching to the officers involved and required each to provide meaningful in-person and written apologies to the men. Recognizing the potential for psychological harm being caused by the event, each inmate was offered psychological counselling and support services. PCC’s strip search policy was reviewed with all correctional officers and the centre committed to using this event as a case study in future training sessions for how not to conduct strip searches.
We applaud the steps taken by PCC to assess what happened, prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future, provide additional training to staff, offer meaningful apologies and facilitate psychological counselling supports to the complainants. As such, we considered these complaints resolved through informal resolution and closed our files.
Healthcare in Prison, Difficulty Breathing
An inmate at the Provincial Correctional Centre (PCC) complained that medical staff were not treating his acute breathing problems. Despite repeatedly asking for a medical assessment and submitting internal complaint forms about a lack of medical care, he received no response.
We contacted PCC through our informal resolution process to inquire about the man’s medical status and responses to his internal request and complaint forms. Four days later, he called us again to tell us that his symptoms were worsening and that he still had no response from healthcare or centre management. We reached out to PCC again and within two hours they met with him to review his request and complaint forms. The next morning, he was assessed by a nurse who provided him with medication to improve his breathing. Later in the week he was provided with additional medication to improve his symptoms. He was also referred to medical specialists for further assessment.
The man was thankful for our involvement and believed it led to him receiving the medical care he needed. As the actions taken by PCC resolved the man’s concerns, we considered the matter resolved and closed our file.
Removal from Trusteeship and Guardianship
A woman who was subject to guardianship and trusteeship under the Public Guardian and Trustee (PGT) contacted our office with complaints about her experience. She questioned the length of the guardianship and trusteeship. She believed the PGT should have noticed sooner that the psychological condition that caused her to be placed under care had improved. She also complained that the PGT made decisions on her behalf which she believed were unfair, including placing her in a private care home that she believed overcharged for its services and selling her personal vehicle.
We contacted the PGT through our informal resolution process to relay her complaints and pose questions about the PGT’s actions and decisions. We learned that although the PGT had no written policies regarding the monitoring of a client’s clinical condition, in practice they do monitor for improvements. This practice is what led to the termination of the guardianship and trusteeship in this case. The PGT explained that despite this practice, and the opinions it forms from its monitoring, the termination of guardianship and trusteeship is ultimately dependent on professional medical opinions and the will of the courts. The PGT can only provide opinions in support of an argument for removing an individual from care.
In the complainant’s case, we learned that the PGT arranged for medical reassessments of her condition within a few months of being alerted to a counsellor’s opinion that she may no longer require guardianship and trusteeship. When the PGT obtained the resulting medical assessments, they acted diligently to support her removal from guardianship and trusteeship by the courts, which occurred less than two months later.
As part of our investigation we learned that the PGT has provided input on proposed new legislation, the Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act, which provides for guidance on how and when reviews of guardianship and trusteeship orders should occur. If passed, we understand that the new legislation would codify the practice it already has in place.
With respect to the woman’s complaints about the selling of her vehicle, we learned that the PGT made this decision based on a psychiatrist’s opinion that her driver’s license would not be reinstated. Despite her capacity eventually improving to the point that she was again able to drive, we could not fault the PGT for taking action based on the medical assessment it was presented at the time it made its decision. To address her complaint about expenses she was charged while residing at the care home, we obtained records from PGT of what was charged, which we confirmed was not unreasonable.
Following a thorough assessment of the woman’s complaint, we determined that no further action was required and closed our file.