CANADA | OmbudsPEI publishes first annual report on improving treatment of opioid use disorder

Steps are being taken to provide inmates at Prince Edward Island’s Provincial Correctional Centre (PCC) with improved treatment for opioid abuse following a 10-month investigation by the province’s office of the Ombudsperson.

In Committing to Care: Improving the Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) in the Provincial Correctional System, OmbudsPEI examines how inmates at PCC were being treated for OUD compared to other Islanders, inmates at other correctional facilities across the country, and the current standard of medical care for treating the disorder.

In June 2022, OmbudsPEI received complaints from inmates serving time at PCC about access to opioid replacement therapy (ORT), a treatment used for OUD which is recommended by medical colleges and associations across the country and widely available to Islanders who were not in jail.

Through this investigation, OmbudsPEI learned that inmates who were receiving ORT at the time of admission would continue ORT in jail. However, inmates who were not actively receiving ORT at the time they were admitted had to wait until a few weeks before their release to be offered it.

This policy meant that inmates not already receiving ORT on admission were offered opioid withdrawal management only.

Through consultations with treatment providers, correctional staff, inmates, local stakeholders and correctional institutions across Canada, OmbudsPEI learned that ORT is the current standard of medical care for treating OUD. OmbudsPEI also learned that opioid withdrawal management is not medically recommended, nor is it a suitable alternative to ORT. OmbudsPEI became concerned that inmates on PEI were not being provided with the same access to medical care available to other islanders and to inmates in other correctional facilities across Canada.

OmbudsPEI shared the information gathered from its investigation with P.E.I.’s Community and Correctional Services, together with the office’s concerns that the current practices could be seen to be unfair to inmates. As a result of this process, CCS has committed to ensuring that all inmates eligible for ORT will be offered it without delay. By doing so, inmates with OUD will be provided the best chance for long-term, stabilizing treatment to the same level of care provided to Islanders who are not in custody.

By improving the treatment of OUD in the correctional system, CCS is not only assisting inmates with improving their lives, but also helping to mitigate the risks of continued criminal activity and its impact on the communities across Prince Edward Island.

OmbudsPEI looks forward to making a difference in the lives of more Islanders as it continues to work towards its Vision - A public service that is fair, transparent and accountable in the design and delivery of its programs and services.


Source: OmbudsPEI, Canada

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