Ontario Taking Action to Reform Correctional System

Correctional facility

Province Investing in New Jails in Thunder Bay and Ottawa, Modernizing Legislation

Today, Ontario released the interim report from the Independent Advisor on Corrections Reform, Howard Sapers, which examines the use of segregation in Ontario’s adult correctional facilities. The government thanks Mr. Sapers for his work, and will address all recommendations contained in his report.

The recommendations provided by both Mr. Sapers’ interim report and the Ombudsman will support the government’s ongoing work to reform Ontario’s correctional system.

This work includes strong action the government has recently taken to change segregation practices, as well as investments made to increase staff and mental health supports for those in custody.

In addition, funding has been approved for the construction of a new 325-bed multi-purpose correctional centre to replace the existing Thunder Bay Jail and Thunder Bay Correctional Centre, as well as a new 725-bed multi-purpose correctional centre to replace the existing Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre. This investment will help increase capacity and reduce overcrowding at provincial institutions.

Building on this investment, Ontario will:

  •  Work to transform healthcare services in correctional facilities, including exploring options to shift the oversight and provision of healthcare services from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
  • Introduce new legislation in fall 2017 to support corrections reform. This will be the first substantive review of existing legislation since the 1990s and will include a legislative definition of segregation based on conditions of confinement and international standards – not on a physical location within an institution.
  • Implement an enhanced model of independent oversight and governance of the adult corrections system, including segregation. Increasing accountability and transparency is a central feature of the government’s commitment to broader corrections reform.

Ontario is committed to safeguarding human rights and ensuring the safety of individuals placed in the correctional system, while maintaining the security of provincial institutions for both staff and inmates. To ensure these important reforms meet the needs of those in provincial custody and that the safety of our institutions is maintained, the province will work closely with frontline staff and managers, as well as partners across the justice, social services, and healthcare sectors.

Reforming Ontario’s correctional system is part of the government’s plan to keep communities safe and support rehabilitation and reintegration.

Quick Facts

  • The 2017 Ontario Budget includes a number of investments aimed at improving the province’s justice system, including transforming corrections.
  • Before his appointment as independent advisor, Howard Sapers served as Canada’s Correctional Investigator since Feb. 24, 2004. In that role, he provided independent oversight of the Correctional Service of Canada and served as an Ombudsman for federally-sentenced offenders.
  • There are 26 adult correctional facilities in Ontario.
  • The report supports the ministry’s current work to reform the use of segregation by:
  • reducing the number of people held in segregation, and the length of time individuals spend in segregation
  • building a system in which appropriate alternatives to segregation are more available for vulnerable inmates, such as pregnant women and those with acute mental health issues, and ensuring that segregation is used only in rare circumstances
  • improving the conditions under which individuals are held when in segregation
  • improving oversight of inmate conditions.

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