GSB Hearings are to be Open to the Public
Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union and Ministry of Correctional Services
Daniel A. Harris, March 6, 2002
GSB#0224/01, 1474/01, 1574/01, 1576/01
UNION# 01A503, 01A504, 01A505, 01A506, 01A507, 01A508, 02B027, 02B028, 02B029, 02A163, 02A165
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full text of decision on line:
The grievances concerned an alleged assault upon an inmate. Some of the grievors have been discharged from their employment; others have been suspended. Some of the grievors face criminal charges as a result of the incident. In addition, the inmate launched a civil suit against the employer and some of the grievors.
The grievors asked that the hearing be closed to the public.
The Board found:
We think that in principle a heavy onus lies on any party who wishes to close a hearing of a statutory body like this Board. It is the hallmark of procedural fairness that justice manifestly be seen to be done. That can only occur if the public and the press have full access to the proceedings; the best safeguard against the arbitrary use of
power or merely careless injustice is the full light of public scrutiny. Public hearings can have their costs, of course, but those costs must be particularly heavy to overweigh the primary public interest in openness.
The main union argument was that the grievors might suffer in a civil law suit because the inmate would have the opportunity of a form of discovery.
The GSB found the inmate at the center of the controversy has the right as much as, if not more than, anyone else to be assured that these matters have been fairly and openly dealt with. It was found to be an acceptable and necessary cost that such openness may provide the inmate with information that is useful to him in the civil courts.
The GSB is very very unlikely to agree to meet in secret.