MEMORANDUM TO: ALL STAFF
FROM: John Rabeau, Deputy Minister, Correctional Services
DATED: June 11, 2003
RE: Board of Inquiry (Human Rights) Decisions
In April 1998 the Board of Inquiry (Human Rights) issued its decision with respect to human rights complaints made by Michael McKinnon, an employee at the Toronto East Detention Centre (TEDC). The Board found that Mr. McKinnon had been harassed and discriminated against because of his race, ancestry and ethnic origin and
that the work environment at the TEDC was racially poisoned contrary to the Human Rights Code. As a result of these findings the Board made 12 orders. As the Deputy Minister, Correctional Services, I accept the findings set out in the 1998 decision.
In March 1999 Mr. McKinnon requested that the Board reconvene to hear allegations of continued harassment and reprisal as well as allegations of the Ministry’s failure to implement the 1998 orders. The Board rendered its decision with respect to these allegations in November 2002. In its decision the Board found that the
ministry had failed to comply with one of the 12 orders; that Mr. McKinnon had been the subject of post-decision targeting; and that the TEDC remained racially poisoned. As a result of these findings the Board made 15 additional orders.
On December 20, 2002 the ministry filed a Notice of Appeal with respect to the Board’s 2002 decision. As a result, the 2002 decision and its orders were automatically stayed pending the outcome of the appeal. Mr. McKinnon and the Ontario Human Rights Commission brought motions to lift the stay with respect to certain of the
Board’s orders. In a decision dated March 14, 2003 the Divisional Court issued a decision to lift the stay with respect to the order that required the Ministry to take certain steps to publicize the decision. One of the requirements of that order is that the Ministry must provide all employees with summaries of both the 1998 and 2002 Board of Inquiry
decisions. In order to ensure that all staff receive their own copy of these summaries, we will be checking your names off on a staff list as they are distributed. In addition to the distribution of the summaries, a précis of the decisions will be read on parade at all Correctional Services’ correctional institutions in the coming weeks.
The Board’s findings of a racially poisoned atmosphere at the TEDC in both the 1998 and 2002 decisions are very troubling, and in light of these findings, we consider it of the utmost importance to affirm the Ministry’s commitment to ensuring that our workplaces are harassment- and discrimination-free. All issues relating
to racial harassment and poisoned work environment must be taken seriously by all employees of Correctional Services, in order to ensure a healthy working environment for all. I would like to take this opportunity to remind all staff of their obligations under the Workplace Discrimination and Harassment Prevention (WDHP) policy and the Human Rights Code
to refrain from discrimination, harassment and reprisal. In addition, I would also remind all managers of their particular responsibilities under the WDHP Policy that require them to uphold the policy and to respond appropriately to any information concerning harassment, discrimination and poisoned work environment issues. Although the Ministry has
appealed the 2002 Board decision, we consider the findings in both the 1998 and the 2002 decision to be of great concern. We take the decisions of the Board in this matter very seriously, and expect all Correctional Services employees to do so as well.