Labour dispute at Toronto prison delaying court proceeds, judges, lawyers say
Dario Balca, CTV Toronto
Published Monday, January 4, 2016 10:10PM EST
Judges and lawyers say labour troubles at Toronto’s South Detention Centre are slowing down proceedings in several trials, including that of accused killer Dellen Millard.
Millard, the wealthy heir to an aviation dynasty, is facing three counts of first-degree murder in connection with the death of his father, Wayne Millard, ex-girlfriend Laura Babcock and 32-year-old Ancaster, Ont. man Tim Bosma. The three victims were killed during separate incidents.
But Millard was several hours late to his court hearing on Monday.
“For the record, it is 20 minutes after 11 now and we have been waiting for Mr. Millard to be brought in from the South Toronto Detention Centre,” Justice Diane Oleskiw noted in court. “Our vans have been waiting there for hours now…The situation at the detention centre is becoming intolerable.”
The delayed transportation of prisoners from the facility to courthouses in the city has been happening for months, the judge said, adding that this is “not at problem that the court has created by any stretch.”
Lawyers are getting fed up with the delays as well.
“It’s a black stain, really, on the administration of justice that this happens all the time,” said criminal lawyer Anthony Moustacalis.
The jail has been plagued by problems since opening in 2014, caused in part by an ongoing labour dispute between the provincial government and OPSEU, the union representing correctional officers.
Last month, the two came to an agreement that OPSEU would tell its members that purposely slowing down the movement of prisoners would be considered an illegal strike. According to the agreement, the Labour Relations Board would step in if the delays continued.
But judges and lawyers say the delays haven’t stopped. And the costs of the delays are adding up.
“If you look at judges’ salaries and the cost of lawyers, clerks and other people that are waiting around to do business…it’s in the hundreds of thousands of dollars if not much, much more,” Moustacalis said.
Millard finally entered the court at around 12:30 p.m. on Monday -- nearly three hours after he was supposed to arrive.
“I actually started in transit at 6 a.m. this morning,” Millard to the judge. “I didn’t arrive here until 12.”
OPSEU denies that there was any delay in transporting Millard to the hearing.
The province said there was a delay in transporting the accused, but that it was not related to job action at the prison.