Proposed Legislation Will Improve Conditions and Increase Transparency
Ontario is transforming its adult correctional system to achieve better outcomes for individuals in custody, and those being released.
The province has introduced legislation that is the foundation of the boldest transformation of our corrections system in a generation. The legislation would apply a consistent and evidence-based approach to rehabilitation, ensuring both public safety and the protection of the human rights and dignity of persons in custody. The proposed legislation has been informed by consultations with stakeholders, partners including corrections staff, and several comprehensive expert reviews. These include two reports from the Independent Advisor on Corrections Reform, a submission from the Ontario Human Rights Commission, an investigation by the Ontario Ombudsman on segregation, and the final Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre Task Force Report.
If passed, the proposed legislation will:
- Set rules around, and clearly define, segregation by aligning with international standards and phasing in time limits and prohibitions on segregation for vulnerable inmates, including pregnant inmates and those with a significant mental illness.
- Improve conditions of confinement by requiring minimum standards for living conditions that would apply to all adults in custody. This will ensure better outcomes and greater consistency across Ontario’s correctional system.
- Increase transparency and accountability by establishing an Inspector General to ensure compliance with the new legislation and all policies. Independent review panels will review segregation cases and ensure that inmates are held in the least restrictive conditions possible. To ensure the safety of inmates and staff, disciplinary hearings officers will make decisions about sanctions for serious acts of misconduct by inmates.
- Clearly define in legislation the health care services that incarcerated individuals should have access to, including treatment of disease or injury, health promotion, disease prevention, dental care, vision care, mental health and addictions care, and traditional Indigenous healing and medicines.
- Better support rehabilitation and reintegration through individualized, evidence-based assessments that will be completed for every new admission as part of an evidence-based approach. Tailored case management plans will address the unique needs of each inmate and aid in rehabilitation. Increased culturally specific programming and supports for Indigenous individuals and other over-represented groups will be available to achieve successful reintegration.
As part of the government’s commitment to transform corrections and address key recommendations from reports by the Independent Advisor on Corrections Reform, the province is also:
- Investing in modern infrastructure, including new facilities in Thunder Bay and Ottawa
- Improving health outcomes for those in custody that will be informed by a new expert advisory committee, public consultations, and a comprehensive review of the health care needs of inmates and current services provided in each correctional facility
- Modernizing technology by introducing advanced data collection and management to support evidence-based decision making
- Investing in staff through enhanced training programs including mandatory training on anti-racism, cultural competency, disabilities, mental health and human rights
- Establishing an advisory committee with the Ministry of the Attorney General, Anti-Racism Directorate, and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to address the over-representation of black inmates in corrections and support their reintegration into the community.
These measures will modernize corrections and support a system built around dignity, human rights, and accountability that will effectively rehabilitate and reintegrate individuals in custody. The implementation of this fundamental transformation of adult correctional services will be phased in as soon as possible based on system readiness and the appropriate supports being in place.
- There are currently 25 provincially run adult correctional facilities in Ontario. The average number of adults in custody across the province in 2017 was 7,584.
- In Ontario, provincially run adult correctional facilities house inmates 18 years of age or older who are sentenced to terms of imprisonment of two years less a day.
- In carrying out its correctional services mandate, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services also has jurisdiction over adults who are serving terms of probation of up to three years, conditional sentences of up to two years less a day, those under parole supervision, adults on remand awaiting trial or sentencing, and adults held for immigration hearing or deportation.
- The proposed legislation will replace the Ministry of Correctional Services Act and outlines the province’s bold vision for the future of correctional services in Ontario.
- The proposed legislative changes are part of the government’s commitment to the long-term transformation of the correctional system in Ontario.