Hope for a Cure

Authority Investigation and Standards Office
Details

Chris had been battling a potentially life threatening illness for many years when a promising new treatment came out offering hope for a cure. He signed up for treatment and received preliminary screening at several clinics. Then Chris came into conflict with the law and was imprisoned.

Chris had long coped with his illness through a strictly modified diet. Now incarcerated, Chris could no longer follow the diet and he became increasingly concerned about his prognosis. Chris asked about his access to the new treatment and the prison’s healthcare provider told Chris that it would not administer the treatment.

Chris understood that the new treatment for his condition was offered at federal correctional centres, so he asked why it was not available at the provincial centre. Chris did not receive a reply.

Following the inmate complaint process, Chris then wrote to the Investigation and Standards Office. In response to Chris’s concerns, ISO contacted the healthcare provider at the prison and discussed the matter. Satisfied with the response, ISO then wrote to Chris explaining that if he was told that he was not a candidate to receive the treatment, the decision was made with his best interests in mind.

Chris had not been told at any point exactly why he was not a candidate for treatment. From his perspective, he had a life threatening illness and a cure was within sight. Chris only wanted answers. He contacted us and we decided to investigate.

Our investigations often focus on the adequacy and appropriateness of reasons for decisions. What constitutes adequate and appropriate reasons will depend on the nature of the decision and the context in which the decision is made. Where, as in this case, a decision may have significant consequences to an individual, a greater obligation exists to provide clear and comprehensible reasons.

We talked to ISO about providing people with meaningful reasons and the basis on which we believed they were warranted in this case. We then asked that a copy of those reasons be provided to us so that we could understand the decision that impacted Chris. ISO agreed to make that happen. Shortly after, the health care administrator said they were reassessing their original decision. Chris was given an appointment to see a medical specialist who could determine his suitability for treatment.

Several months later we followed up and learned Chris was approved for the new treatment that he had been screened for when he was living in the community. 

Category Corrections, Health
Type Case Summary
Fiscal Year 2015
Location The Interior