McGuinty Government to Enhance Youth Justice by Building New GTA Youth Centre

Archived Release

McGuinty Government to Enhance Youth Justice by Building New GTA Youth Centre

New Centre To Replace "Unsuitable" Facility BRAMPTON, ON, June 29 - The McGuinty government is creating safer, stronger communities by building a new Toronto-area youth justice facility, replacing an older centre that had been declared unsuitable for youth, Children and Youth Services Minister Marie Bountrogianni announced today. "Some youth get off to a rough start," said Bountrogianni. "Our number one priority is to keep our communities safe, but it's in all of our best interests to help those youth turn their lives around and become productive adults." Bountrogianni made the announcement at the future site of the Greater Toronto Area Youth Centre in Brampton. The new GTA Youth Centre will be an innovative facility that meets the unique needs of youth in conflict with the law. The new centre will accommodate up to 32 females and 192 males in 14 separate housing units. Construction will begin in 2005 and is expected to be completed in late 2007. Bountrogianni also announced that the Toronto Youth Assessment Centre (TYAC) in Etobicoke is permanently closed as a youth facility. In March, the provincial government announced it was closing TYAC because it was unsafe for youth and did not allow for education and rehabilitation. "We understand a new approach is needed to deal with youth in conflict with the law, and this new centre in Brampton represents an innovative approach to building stronger communities," said MPP Vic Dhillon (Brampton West - Mississauga). Some of the innovative features of the new centre include smaller 16-person units, improved sightlines for Youth Services Officers, and on-site classrooms and facilities for education and extensive rehabilitative programming. Youth at the centre will be required to attend a full day of highly structured programming and school. "We heard from the community, youth, staff and advocates that TYAC was an unsuitable facility for youth. We took action and closed it forever," said MPP Laurel Broten (Etobicoke-Lakeshore). Ontario is creating an integrated youth justice system that balances the best interests of youth with community safety. The youth will be expected to work hard to turn their lives around and become productive, contributing members of society. "When dealing with youth in conflict with the law, we have a dual responsibility--we won't give in to them, but we won't give up on them either," said Bountrogianni. Fact Sheet ------------------------------------------------------------------------ THE NEW GREATER TORONTO AREA YOUTH CENTRE Overall Facts ------------- The new GTA Youth Centre will: - consist of 14 separate units, each of which will house up to 16 youth - accommodate up to 32 females and 192 males, with a total capacity of 224 - be a secure facility with high-level security - accommodate youth in detention (awaiting trial or sentencing) and youth in custody (serving their sentence) Innovative Design ----------------- Innovative features of the new GTA Youth Centre will include: - smaller 16-person unit - improved sight lines for staff members, so that youth in custody are fully supervised at all times - enhanced facilities for a highly structured day of educational and rehabilitative programming - a design that fits with the aesthetic of its surrounding environment Funding and Construction ------------------------ - the McGuinty government has committed $81.1 million to build the new GTA Youth Centre - a tender to build the new centre will be issued late next year, with completion of construction expected in late 2007 - until the new centre is completed, youth assigned to secure detention and custody will be housed at other youth facilities such as the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre and the Brookside Youth Centre Programs and Rehabilitation --------------------------- - while youth are in the facility they will be required to participate in highly structured programs from 7:00 a.m. until bedtime - some programs will involve group activities, others will be conducted on an individual basis with a social worker, psychiatrist, teacher, etc. - these programs foster social development, independence and responsibility - youth will also be required to attend a full day of school within the facility Fact Sheet ------------------------------------------------------------------------- YOUTH JUSTICE IN ONTARIO Overall facts ------------- - Currently there are 1,029 youths in the custody of the Ontario youth justice system and 14,394 under community supervision. - 374 youth are housed in open custody facilities and the remaining 655 are in secure custody facilities. - Many of the youth in custody have learning disabilities and mental health disorders. - Others have experienced domestic violence and have been involved with the child welfare system. Youth Services Officer ---------------------- - Created a new designation called a Youth Services Officer to work with youth in secure custody in the ministry's directly operated youth centres. - Requires extra training in a ministry-offered program in order to become qualified to work with youth who are in conflict with the law. - New designation came into effect on April 1, 2004. Federal Legislation ------------------- - The federal government implemented the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) on April 1, 2003. - The YCJA states that the youth criminal justice system must be separate from the adult system. - The YCJA emphasizes the rehabilitation of youth while holding them accountable for their actions, and its ultimate goal is to reintegrate youth in custody back into society. Glossary -------- - Detention facility - where youth are housed while awaiting trial or sentencing - Custody facility - where youth are housed to serve their sentence - Open detention - a facility with lower security, in a community-based residential setting - Secure detention - a facility with a higher level of security - Open custody - youth serve their custody sentence in a community- based residential setting - Secure custody - youth serve their sentence in a facility with a higher level of security Fact Sheet ------------------------------------------------------------------------- SAMPLE OF DAILY ACTIVITIES FOR YOUTH 7:00 a.m. Wake up, shower, clean bedroom. Youth assigned morning cleaning chore. 7:30 - 8:00 a.m. Breakfast; youth set tables, clear and clean tables and servery area. Clean dishes in main kitchen. 8:45 a.m. Leave unit for on-site school in the activities building. 9:00 - 11:30 a.m. At school with full high school curriculum. 11:30 - noon Lunch preparation, set tables. Noon - 1:00 p.m. Eat lunch, clean up, time to brush teeth and prepare for afternoon activities. 1:00 - 3:30 p.m. School program resumes. 3:30 p.m. Return to unit. 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. Attend individual program which may include: meeting with Youth Services Worker/social worker/teacher/health care/parents/ unit manager; recreation; and therapy with social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist in such areas as substance abuse or anger management. 4:30 -5:30 p.m. Eat dinner and clean up. 5:30 - 6:00 p.m. Constructive use of leisure time. 6:00 - 6:30 p.m. Unit chore time such as sweeping bedroom, cleaning washroom, washing unit floors, vacuuming and doing personal laundry. 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. Evening programming such as case (structured programs, working with different service providers, i.e., literacy volunteer), visits with family, religious service providers or native worker. Youth may attend on-site worship centre. 9:00 p.m. Evening snack. 9:00 - 10:30 p.m. Bedtime varies (depends on youth incentive level). Note: Youth who need to attend court wake up at 6:00 a.m., eat breakfast, and are taken to Admitting/Discharge to wait for their transport to court. Disponible en français For more information visit www.children.gov.on.caFor further information: Andrew Weir, Minister's Office, (416) 212-7159; Anne Machowski-Smith, Ministry of Children and Youth Services, Communications Branch, (416) 325-5156