On February 20, 2018, Ontario’s Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services introduced the Correctional Services Transformation Act, 2018 in the legislature. The bill of the province’s law on corrections and its preamble recognizes the need to treat inmates with dignity and ensure that their rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Ontario’s Human Rights Code are respected. It seeks to, among other things, put in place minimum living conditions for inmates, create an effective inmate complaints mechanism, and limit – and in some cases prohibit – the use of solitary confinement (referred to in the bill as ‘segregation’). However, the law alone is not sufficient to make the changes that are required for a humane and effective correctional system. The legal foundation that the law would establish is crucial, but many of the operational details will not be known until regulations, policies and procedures are developed and meaningfully implemented by the Ministry and correctional staff. For example, the bill proposes the use of Independent Review Panels to conduct hearings to review segregation decisions at regular intervals, but it remains to be seen how these panels will be established and resourced, and whether and how their independence can be assured. Moreover, the changes proposed by the bill required substantial financial and human resources. It remains to be seen whether the government’s budget commitments will finance the legislative goal.
About the Canadian Civil Liberties Association
The CCLA is an independent, non-profit organization with supporters from across the country. Founded in 1964, the CCLA is a national human rights organization committed to defending the rights, dignity, safety, and freedoms of all people in Canada.
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