Ontario Passes Legislation to Transform Adult Correctional System
Improving Conditions and Increasing Transparency to Create Better Outcomes
Ontario is taking action to transform the adult correctional system and produce better outcomes for individuals in custody and upon their release.
The Correctional Services and Reintegration Act, 2018 was passed today and will result in improved conditions, increased transparency, and will apply a consistent and evidence-based approach to rehabilitation and reintegration to better prepare those in custody for a successful and well-supported return to their communities.
The new act will transform Ontario's adult correctional system by:
- Setting rules and clearly defining segregation by aligning with international standards and phasing in time limits and prohibitions on segregation for vulnerable inmates - including pregnant inmates and those with mental illness.
- Improving conditions of confinement by defining minimum standards for living conditions that would apply to all adults in custody. This will help achieve better outcomes and ensure greater consistency across Ontario's correctional system.
- Increasing transparency and accountability by establishing an inspector general to enforce compliance with the new legislation and all policies. Independent panels will review segregation cases to confirm inmates are held in the least restrictive conditions possible. To enhance the safety of inmates and staff, disciplinary hearings officers will make decisions about sanctions for serious acts of misconduct by inmates.
- Ensuring incarcerated individuals have access to appropriate health care services, including treatment of disease or injury, health promotion, disease prevention, dental care, vision care,hearing care, mental health and addictions care, and traditional First Nation, Inuit, or Métis healing and medicines.
- Better supporting rehabilitation and reintegration through individualized assessments completed for every admission. As part of an evidence-based approach to incarceration, case management plans will be tailored to address the unique needs of inmates to guide their rehabilitation. Enhanced culturally-responsive programming will be implemented to meet the diverse and unique needs of Indigenous individuals and other over-represented groups to achieve successful reintegration.
As part of its ongoing transformation of correctional services, Ontario will be working with experts to improve the provision of health care services for individuals in custody. This important work will be guided by the findings and advice of an independent advisory committee of experts representing health care professionals, individuals with lived experience, community health care organizations, and over-represented groups in correctional facilities, including marginalized and racialized community advocate groups.
Extensive consultations about the implementation of the new act will be held with frontline staff, including nurses, physicians, and correctional officers, in addition to Indigenous partners, incarcerated individuals and their families, health care organizations, and justice sector groups.
This legislation is part of the boldest transformation of Ontario's correctional system in generations. It will modernize correctional services, and support a system built around safety, dignity, human rights, and accountability that will effectively rehabilitate individuals in custody and assist in their successful reintegration. Ontario will ensure appropriate supports are in place as it implements this transformation.
Modernizing the adult correctional system is part of the government's plan to support care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and 65 or over, through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, and free preschool child care from 2 ½ to kindergarten.
- There are currently 25 provincially run adult correctional facilities in Ontario. The average number of adults in custody across the province for fiscal year 2017-18 was 7,474.
- The courts are responsible for the sentencing of offenders, and for remanding individuals into custody before trial. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services has a legal responsibility to uphold court orders in addition to ensuring the safety, security, and well-being of those in its custody.
- In Ontario, provincially run adult correctional facilities house inmates 18 years of age or older who are sentenced to terms of imprisonment up to two years less a day.
- The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services has jurisdiction over adults 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 an immigration hearing or deportation.
- The Correctional Services and Reintegration Act, 2018 replaces the Ministry of Correctional Services Act.
- The new legislation is part of the government’s commitment to the long-term transformation of the adult correctional system in Ontario.
“This new legislation is the foundation we need for a modern and compassionate correctional system. We are shifting to a consistent and client-centered approach that will help rehabilitate and reintegrate all those in our custody and care. Our dedicated correctional employees and partners played an integral role in making our shared vision for a better correctional system a reality. We will continue to work together as we implement our plan.”