THUNDER BAY – “Construction of a new jail for Thunder Bay has been a major priority for me and my colleague Michael Gravelle, as well as our province for some time now. This new facility will address the current health and safety conditions faced by our correctional staff and inmates living conditions. I would like to thank our Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Marie-France Lalonde for her support of our local priorities as we continue investments in Thunder Bay’s core provincial infrastructure,” states Bill Mauro, MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan.
As part of a commitment to reform and transform Ontario’s correction system, Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro announced today that funding has been approved for the construction of a new 325-bed multi-purpose correctional centre to replace the existing Thunder Bay Jail and Thunder Bay Correctional Centre.
The announcement follows the release of an interim report from the Independent Advisor on Corrections Reform, Howard Sapers.
“I am pleased with the ministry’s clear commitment to change. The response sends a clear message that the status quo is not acceptable and I look forward to working with the ministry as my recommendations are implemented. The hard work starts now and will require the full support and involvement of staff throughout the system,” says Sapers.
This report examines the use of segregation in Ontario’s adult correctional facilities. The government of Ontario states they will address all recommendations contained in his report.
The recommendations provided by both Mr. Sapers’ interim report and the Ombudsman will support the government’s ongoing work to reform Ontario’s correctional system.
This work includes strong action the government has recently taken to change segregation practices, as well as investments made to increase staff and mental health supports for those in custody.
“We appreciate the Province’s commitment in supporting the long-term transformation of the correctional system,” said Mayor Keith Hobbs.
“We would like to sincerely thank Minister Michael Gravelle and Minister Bill Mauro for their hard work and support. This is something the City of Thunder Bay has been advocating for a number of years, primarily through its Intergovernmental Affairs Committee.”
Building on this investment, the Province will work to transform healthcare services in correctional facilities, including exploring options to shift the oversight and provision of healthcare services from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. There will also be new legislation introduced in fall 2017 to support corrections reform. The Province will also implement an enhanced model of independent oversight and governance of the adult corrections system, including segregation.
“We are thrilled that we can move forward with a new facility,” said Councillor Joe Virdiramo, Chair of the Inter-Governmental Affairs Committee. “I would like to thank the Intergovernmental Affairs committee for their perseverance over the years in advocating for this new facility, and to members of City Administration and the Thunder Bay Police Services Board for their involvement. We also hope to see investment in social development and prevention to reduce the flow in the correctional system.”
This investment will help increase capacity and reduce overcrowding at provincial institutions by taking a new, collaborative approach to infrastructure that engages staff, justice partners, and communities. Infrastructure funding for new institutions was identified in the 2017 budget.
Mauro states, “In addition, our government is establishing a Community Advisory Board for Thunder Bay. Currently used in ten other provincial correctional institutions, community advisory boards strengthen the links between Ontario correctional institutions and the communities that host them. The board members act as independent observers offering a local perspective concerning the care, supervision, and programs for offenders. The board acts in an advisory capacity to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services and provides advice on all aspects of facility operations including: the operation of the institution and the impact on the community; the state of the institution; the administration of the institution; and the treatment of inmates”.