Government Authorities: The Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MSCS) is responsible for correctional institutions that house men, women and youth who are detained (on remand) awaiting trial, those sentenced to less than 2 years, as well as immigration detainees. The MCSCS is also responsible for parole, including supervision of people released into the community on conditions, and for police services, including crime reduction.
The Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG) is responsible for the provincial justice system including courts and bail.
MOMS Advocacy Focus: Action & collaboration to improve conditions at the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre (OCDC); to reduce numbers of men & women in detention; to increase diversion of vulnerable people who do not belong in jail into treatment in the community; and to ensure a new Corrections Act is passed and results in meaningful reform of Ontario corrections.
Our position on proposed new jail for Ottawa
- MOMS is in favour of a new jail for Ottawa, but not a larger one.
- A reduction in numbers at OCDC in 2017 was achieved by transferring prisoners to other institutions, farther away from their families and lawyers. This is a temporary situation at best to the overcrowding that has plagued OCDC.
- A number of bail, court and police system changes that were initiated in 2017 (see details under 2017 activities below), or are now in the works, should gradually but significantly reduce the number of people being detained, and the length of time they need to be held in detention.
- MOMS and others are also working vigorously for further actions and investments needed to divert many vulnerable individuals, who do not belong in jail at all, into mental health and addictions treatment in the community.
- These are the changes that can and should result in the need for a smaller detention centre in Ottawa. We urge the MCSCS to track their results and adjust its’ planning for a new Ottawa jail accordingly.
- In our view, the current facility should be replaced, particularly in the context of proposed new legislation for Ontario Corrections which we expect to define principles and standards of care and treatment of prisoners that the current OCDC simply cannot provide. The existing building has been very poorly maintained over time, and by design it is an unhealthy, inhumane facility that cannot deliver these standards of care.
- MOMS fully supports Howard Sapers’ recommendations, see “Directions for Reform” September 2017. https://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/Corrections/IndependentReviewOntarioCorrections/IndependentReviewOntarioCorrectionsDirectionsReform.html
Reform of Ontario Corrections
- MOMS supports Bill 195: “Legislation alone will not stem the tide of horror stories emanating from Ontario jails, but this new legislation is a crucial step in the right direction. The proposed legislation is not perfect; it has some weaknesses that concern us, but overall it meets the test: it is a forward-thinking, strongly-principled framework that makes real change possible. the next step must be the development of regulations and policies that will fulfill the promise of this new Act.”
- MCSCS introduces new corrections legislation, first reading Feb 20, 2018: news.ontario.ca/
mcscs/en/2018/02/ontario- transforming-adult- correctional-system.html
- On-going: discussions with MCSCS and other stakeholders on details of new Corrections Act to be tabled in provincial legislature in February 2018.
Deaths in Custody
- Ongoing: preparation of MOMS application for standing at inquests into suicides of Justin St Amour and Cas Geddes. Joint inquest anticipated fall 2018.
Courts and Bail
- Attorney General announces additional $7M to improve Ottawa court and justice system, Feb 7, 2018 http://www.yasirnaqvi.onmpp.ca/News/15140?rc=l&l=EN and https://news.ontario.ca/mag/en/2017/01/ontario-making-criminal-justice-system-faster-and-fairer-in-eastern-ontario.html
- Ongoing active memberships: CAJN (Community Adult Justice Network); Ontario Correctional Health Care Coalition (15 members); Coalition on Reforming Segregation in Ontario’s Correctional Institutions (9 members);
- MOMS also collaborates with the OCDC Community Advisory Board; Canadian Somali Mothers Association; Canadian Families Corrections Network (Toronto); T.O.D.D. (Edmonton), and the Criminalization and Punishment Education Project (CPEP)
Reform of Ontario Corrections
- Written submission to MCSCS on proposed new corrections legislation: Dec. 17, 2017
- Attend MCSCS consultations on proposed new legislation, Toronto, Nov. 17, 2017
- Notable event: Howard Sapers/IROC report “Directions for Reform” released Sep 2017.
- MOMS joins Coalition on Reforming Segregation in Ontario’s Correctional Institutions, led by Schizophrenia Society of Ontario.
- MOMS joins Ontario Correctional Health Care Coalition, led by JHS Ontario. http://johnhoward.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Correctional-Health-Care-Coalition-mandate.principles.pdf
- Written submission to MCSCS on additional areas for corrections reform, July 29, 2017
- Attend MCSCS consultations on segregation reform, Toronto, July 19, 2017
- MCSCS announces new jail for Ottawa. See MOMS op ed: http://ottawasun.com/2017/05/04/mathias-bigger-jail-no-cure-all/wcm/98560c8f-d777-48ba-ae02-0435d6478333
- Notable Event: Howard Sapers/IROC report on segregation released March 2017. “Segregation in Ontario” March 2017. https://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/Corrections/IndependentReviewOntarioCorrections/IndependentReviewOntarioCorrectionsSegregationOntario.html
- Provide input to Howard Sapers/IROC team review of corrections, June 9, 2017
- Clothing and books collected and delivered Spring and Fall 2017
- Attend Task Force meeting and update by Minister & MCSCS officials, Ottawa, October 27, 2017
- Meet with Minister Marie-France Lalonde, Orleans, June 21, 2017.
- Tour OCDC: June 30, 2017
- Attend OCDC Task Force meeting & MCSCS briefing on OCDC Progress Report #3 June 30, 2017. https://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/Corrections/OttawaCarletonDetentionCentreTaskForce/OCDCTaskForceProgressReport3.html
- Attend OCDC Task Force meeting & MCSCS briefing on OCDC Progress Report #2 January 13, 2017. https://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/Corrections/OttawaCarletonDetentionCentreTaskForce/OCDCTaskForceProgressReport2.html
- Ongoing collaboration & discussions with CAJN members, the OCDC, CAB and CPEP.
Deaths in Custody
- Letter to Regional Coroner to advise MOMS will apply for standing at joint St. Amour & Geddes inquest.
- Letter to Minister and Chief Coroner requesting expedited joint inquest for OCDC suicide deaths of Justin St. Amour and Cas Geddes, Aug. 14, 2017
- Attend and speak at Justice for Solieman Faqiri event, Ottawa, May 16, 2017
Bail and Courts
- Observe Ottawa courthouse operations, including first appearance and bail courts, to monitor impact of revised bail policy and other court changes, Fall 2017
- Comment on new bail policy; interview on CBC TV Ottawa Evening News; Oct. 30, 2017
- Notable Event: MAG announces new bail policy for Ontario, Oct. 30, 2017 https://news.ontario.ca/mag/en/2017/10/ontario-unveils-new-bail-directive-to-reduce-pre-trial-custody.html
- Attend Attorney General announcement of funding for expanded bail program and new court staff, Ottawa Jan. 25, 2017