Our approach to corrections reform will be anchored by five key initiatives:
- Investing in infrastructure - funding has been approved for construction of new multi-purpose correctional centres in Thunder Bay and Ottawa that will serve as models for innovation and renewal. This new approach will drive reform by taking a holistic view of a correctional facility, going beyond bricks and mortar and engaging staff, justice and community partners in creating a venue for rehabilitation that supports better outcomes for those in our care and custody.
- Defining segregation and improving conditions of confinement - correctional facilities in Ontario vary greatly from region to region. Traditionally, segregation has narrowly been used to refer to adult inmates held in defined segregation units. The ministry will create a clear definition of segregation based on conditions of confinement and international standards - not a physical location in a facility - and will establish minimum standards for conditions of confinement for all inmates in segregation to ensure a consistent approach across the system.
- Transforming healthcare in corrections - transform healthcare services in correctional facilities, including exploring options to shift oversight and the provision of healthcare services to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. This includes providing health care services for those with complex needs and ensuring continuity of care for those entering and leaving our system.
- New corrections legislation - new legislation will comprehensively reform Ontario's corrections system, including clearly defining segregation and entrenching the goals of reform. Current legislation has not been substantially revised since the 1990s.
- Oversight - we will be implementing an enhanced model of independent oversight and governance as part of broader corrections reform.
Enhancing health care services
In addition to working with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the ministry will open a new step down unit at the Vanier Centre for Women, which will include medical beds to meet the mental and physical healthcare needs of the female inmates housed there.
We will revise the existing health care policy and procedures manual with respect to the provision of mental health services. All policies and forms will clearly identify those responsible for care and treatment plans. Clearly identifying responsibilities will improve overall service delivery.
Protecting human rights
The ministry recognizes that more work needs to be done to better support inmates with mental health issues, particularly with respect to the use of segregation where alternate housing options are not available.
The ministry will partner with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Ombudsman and non-governmental organizations to ensure that inmates with mental health issues receive the treatment they need, and in those cases where segregation is necessary, it is done in a manner that respects and safeguards the inmate's human rights. This partnership will ensure that staff receive ongoing training to better manage clients with specialized mental health needs.
Improving data collection
We recognize that the ministry's data collection practices are out-dated and paper-based, leading to inconsistent data that makes it difficult to track the use of segregation, analyze trends and provide a mechanism for oversight.
The ministry is actively working to improve and enhance its data collection practices to ensure a solid foundation of information to support analysis and decision-making. The Data Collection, Analytics and Management Reform initiative is well underway and will be accelerated. The goal of this initiative is to enable and implement a correctional services environment where data drives evidence-based decision-making about how best to serve Ontario's diverse inmate population.
Supporting reform in the long term
While the ministry takes immediate action to build on the work done to date, longer term initiatives will address larger operational pieces that require further analysis and planning including addressing issues related to staffing.