Mission Institution. Kevin Mills / Mission City Record.

Mission Institution. Kevin Mills / Mission City Record.

New cases linked to site of B.C.’s largest prison COVID-19 outbreak

New outbreak could be ‘recipe for disaster’ at Mission Institution, mother of inmate warns

A new COVID-19 case has been connected to Mission Institution, the site of B.C.’s largest prison outbreak in the spring.

Families are terrified that new cases could signal another large outbreak but have been told little, Joanne Fry, the mother of one inmate said Saturday morning. She said she has confirmed at least one new case. Meanwhile, corrections officers have been told two staff members have tested positive, The News has learned.

Last spring an outbreak infected a dozen guards and more than 100 inmates – nearly half of the prisoner population. One prisoner died during that outbreak.

The first case was diagnosed on Tuesday, Nov. 11, according to Joanne Fry, whose son is a prisoner at the site and organized the Mission Prison Family Association after the outbreak. Fry said the facility went into a lockdown on Wednesday to restrict inmate movement. But she says she has been able to learn little else. With Fraser Health having yet to issue a public notice about the facility and a lack of communication from the Correctional Service of Canada, Fry says family members have been left in the dark.

“As usual, CSC and Mission Institution avoid any slight type of communication or liaison,” she said. “We have no way of getting updates, we don’t know how many have tested positive. We don’t know if they learned a thing from the last experience.”

Fry she hopes the media coverage of the last outbreak – and the lawsuit her group has filed – will prompt a better response this time at Mission.

Two staff cases were also diagnosed in September, but the virus didn’t charge through the facility as it had several months before.

But Fry says there hasn’t been any sign of better communication with families, and that the lack of information has inflicted “trauma” on people worried about their loved ones.

“We’re talking about 300 human beings here … and if you don’t give a damn about inmates, think about what all the families are going through.”

RELATED: Staff shortages plague Mission Institution following recovery from COVID-19 outbreak

RELATED: Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak declared over

RELATED: Two employees test positive for COVID-19 at Mission Institution

The News has tried to contact the prison and the union that represents corrections officers, but hasn’t yet received a response. The News has also asked Fraser Health for more information on the situation at the prison.

Fry said she has been in touch with the union, and that they have also expressed concern about how the facility handled the last outbreak – and how it might handle the next one.

At the start of October, the prison was operating with just 60 per cent of its force of guards, with 21 employees self-isolating after the September COVID cases.

Derek Chin, the president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers for the Pacific Region, said at the time that guards were feeling the strain.

“Things aren’t always great at that site when it comes to labour relations,” Chin said. “There have been a lot of officers that have been worked pretty hard, lots of hours, they feel under-appreciated.”

At that time, the CSC said staff had “shown flexibility and some have worked extended hours,” to keep the prison running.

“Mission Institution anticipates being able to return to regular activities as soon as the staff have been cleared from self isolation,” CSC said.

Now Fry worries another outbreak would be a recipe for disaster.

“You’ve got two groups of people who are both in real bad places. That is a crisis waiting to happen.”

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sgt. Darryl Peppler said Mounties are continuing their investigation after Tuesday’s raid. File photo
Grand Forks RCMP arrest suspected drug traffickers at city motel

Police say they netted “a sizable amount” of money and suspected drugs following Tuesday’s arrests.

Midway RCMP’s Cpl. Phil Peters spoke at Greenwood’s city council meeting Monday, Nov. 23. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Police investigating burglary ‘ring’ with ties to Greenwood and Okanagan

Midway RCMP are looking at “persons of interest” in two Greenwood heists

The 29-year-old man pleaded guilty to one count of dangerous driving at Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Nov. 17. File photo
Grand Forks man gets 3-months curfew for role in Highway 3 chase

Guilty man thanked Judge Robert Brown, said he is committed to recovering from addiction

Two men got into a fight over a Grand Forks’ flower display last summer. One of the men resolved an assault charge by entering into a peace bond at Provincial Court Tuesday, Nov. 17. File photo
Grand Forks man takes peace bond after flower fisticuffs

Harsh words over a downtown flower display led to violent confrontation, said Crown attorney

A man wears a mask while walking down Canyon Street in Creston on Nov. 13. Photo: Aaron Hemens
Creston resident living with COVID-19 reflects on experience

Contracting and living with the virus, she said, has led to a “major reset” in her life

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Barrels pictured outside Oliver winery, Quinta Ferreira, in May. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B.C. Master of Wine reflects on industry’s teetering economic state

Pandemic, for some wine makers, has been a blessing in disguise. For others, not so much.

Most Read