Ontario Putting $1.2 Billion into Jails in Thunder Bay and Kenora

Thunder Bay District Jail shot at night. January 23 2020
Thunder Bay District Jail shot at night. January 23 2020

THUNDER BAY — The Ontario government is transforming corrections in the North by investing $1.2 billion to build a new state-of-the-art Thunder Bay Correctional Complex, $96 million for expansion projects at the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre and Kenora Jail, and up to $5 million for a new Northern Attraction Incentive Program pilot to attract and retain corrections staff in the North.

“Together, our government’s landmark infrastructure investment and new hiring program will create and support hundreds of jobs in Thunder Bay, Kenora and surrounding regions,” comments Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “We are making exciting progress on building a modern correctional system that supports public safety, meets the care and programming needs of those in custody, and ensures healthy and well-resourced work environments for our frontline corrections staff to do their jobs safely.”

EllisDon Infrastructure Justice has been awarded the contract to design, build, finance, and maintain the new Thunder Bay Correctional Complex project. The 345-bed multi-purpose facility will replace the outdated existing jail and correctional centre in Thunder Bay and provide:

  • Behavioural and mental health housing options
  • Improved programming and health care services in units
  • Better access to natural light and outdoor spaces.

Construction of the new Thunder Bay Correctional Complex is expected to start this fall and be completed by fall 2026.

In addition, Bird Construction Inc. is scheduled to complete infrastructure expansion projects at the existing Thunder Bay Correctional Centre and Kenora Jail in late summer 2022. Built rapidly using innovative modular construction, these expansions will add beds to alleviate capacity pressures and create more space for effective programming such as literacy and skills development that support safe community reintegration. The Thunder Bay build will eventually be connected to the new Thunder Bay Correctional Complex.

“Infrastructure projects like the Thunder Bay Correctional Complex are essential to our communities,” says Kinga Surma, Minister of Infrastructure. “This investment will ensure staff and frontline workers have access to a more modern and safe space, while also creating hundreds of new jobs and boosting the local economy. Through these types of projects, our government is keeping Ontario’s communities healthy and safe, while protecting our economy and creating a stronger Ontario for generations to come.”

The province is also investing in the new Northern Attraction Incentive Program pilot to help recruit and retain critical frontline corrections staff. The program will provide between $4,000 and $15,000 in onboarding supports for new candidates working at select adult institutions. Existing and new employees who transfer to select locations, can also claim relocation expenses of up to $5,000 per year for up to three years for service at specific probation and parole offices and correctional facilities in the North. The program will begin rolling out April 27, 2022.

“This major investment will fund a modern and secure corrections complex in Thunder Bay as well as a significant expansion of the Kenora Jail to add more capacity and improved rehabilitative services,” says Minister Greg Rickford, Member of Provincial Parliament for Kenora-Rainy River. “These projects will benefit our communities not only by creating better correctional facilities but by creating hundreds of good-paying jobs in construction and frontline correctional services while boosting our local economy.”

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