MEDIA RELEASE Justice Minister Remains Silent as Corrections Officers Put At-Risk

Dartmouth – It’s been over a month since a ruling from the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia found the province is unlawfully and materially depriving inmates of their residual liberties by keeping them locked in their cells for up to 22 hours a day, and so far the Minister of Justice has remained silent on what the government plans to do.

“A chronic staffing shortage at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility has put more stress on, less staff and made the work place a time bomb ready to go off at any moment,” said NSGEU First Vice President Hugh Gillis. “Being locked in a cell for 22 hours a day builds animosity within the jail and creates unsafe conditions that violates individual rights and puts staff, already working a dangerous job, at even higher risk.”

On January 12 Justice Peter Rosinski released a decision that included a finding that the Department of Justice ‘unlawfully and materially deprived (inmate Durrell Diggs) of his residual liberty for a significant number of days.’ It was found Mr. Diggs was left in his cell for 22 hours a day for as many as 36 days.

Justice Rosinski also commented in his decision that “While lockdowns have continually persisted for many month, the underlying systemic staffing problem is one that ultimately only government can effectively address.”

“The union has been raising the critical problem of understaffing at the CNSCF for months, corrections officers are being placed at risk because there are not enough staff there to do the job safely,” said Gillis. “The Minister has long been aware of this problem and now its been over a month since the Supreme Court decision was released and to this day the Minister has remained silent. Corrections officers and staff are suffering trauma at work and they are being ignored by the Minister.”

Justice Rosinski acknowledges that the Court is not permitted to look into systemic issues, such as staffing, but he does note the province has not remedied the problem.

“Where is the Minister of Justice on this issue?” said Gillis. “Corrections officers are there to keep inmates and society safe, they need help today. What steps is government taking to help keep everyone safe today?”

The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia decision can be found here.


The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union represents nearly 36,000 workers who provide quality public services Nova Scotians count on every day.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with NSGEU President Sandra Mullen, please contact:

Lucas Wide, NSGEU Communications Officer,
902-483-0662 (cell)

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