NEWS

Prison staff used inmates to run car wash, auto-repair service

11/19/2014 05:30 EST | Updated 01/19/2015 05:59 EST
Federal prison service staff misused public assets and committed a "serious breach of code of conduct" by setting up a car wash, oil change and vehicle repair enterprise using correctional facilities, supplies and inmate workers, an internal investigation has found.

According to a report on wrongdoing in the workplace from the Correctional Service of Canada, an investigation was launched after a whistleblower alleged a supervisor was abusing publicly funded resources, time and materials to wash and fix colleagues' cars.

The senior staffer was also ordering employees to pick up parts, paints and supplies using CSC fleet vehicles to benefit their private business, according to the report.

Staff members benefited

"Throughout this investigation, it was observed that in addition to the supervisor, a small group of staff members had been benefiting from this situation. These employees used CSC facilities, supplies and materials to perform light maintenance work on their personal vehicles, and used CSC fleet vehicles to conduct errands that were not related to CSC business," it reads.

"Furthermore, there appeared to be instances where offenders, who were employed in the department, were unwittingly implicated in the wrongdoing by the supervisor. The inmates were involved in cleaning and repairing the personal vehicles of CSC employees."

The case summary report, recently released by CSC, said nine recommendations resulted from the probe, including disciplinary measures, risk mitigation strategies and staff accountability measures. Results of the investigation were also to be shared with regional offices as a "lessons learned" document.

But while the report says the CSC commissioner approved the recommendations, the department would not disclose what actions were taken as recourse for the misuse of public assets and breach of conduct.

"Due to the Privacy Act, the Correctional Service of Canada cannot comment on specific cases of staff misconduct," spokeswoman Julie O'Brien told CBC News. "CSC does not tolerate any breach of its policies and all allegations, regardless of the source, are thoroughly investigated by CSC."

Won't reveal disciplinary action

She added employees are expected to act according to the "highest legal and ethical standards" and subject to rules around conduct and discipline.

Without specifying what disciplinary action was taken against the employees, O'Brien referenced a Treasury Board website that lists measures that may be taken against public servants — ranging from oral or written reprimands to financial penalties, suspension or termination.

CSC's Office of Internal Disclosure, which conducted the investigation, is mandated to receive and investigate information provided by employees about allegations of wrongdoing in the workplace.

These offices were created across government departments after the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act passed in 2007.

All substantiated cases are required to be publicly reported.

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