On Aug. 27 the Ontario Government announced a modernization strategy for adult correctional facilities in the eastern part of the province.
About $500 million is earmarked for upgrades to address capacity issues, expand mental health supports and improve programming. Among the upgrades are 375 new beds, among which will be 70 for women.
The facilities to receive funds as part of this announcement are: Greater Ottawa Correctional Complex, Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre, Brockville Correctional Complex (Brockville Jail), St. Lawrence Valley Correctional and Treatment Centre and Greater Napanee’s Quinte Detention Centre.
Some of the facilities in question have been in operation for centuries, let alone decades. For example, the Brockville Jail was created in 1842.
Stephen Warner, Press Secretary and Issues Manager in the office of the Solicitor General, took some time to speak with the Beaver about the plans for adult correctional facilities, including those locally.
According to Warner, the investment is about providing safe workplaces for staff and better services for inmates.
“This is part of a transformation in the eastern region, using funding to do more and work smarter to replace, expand and provide better service delivery in four facilities in the region versus just focusing on one,” explained Warner. “Our investment will ensure our front line staff have the modern facilities, work environments and supports needed to do their jobs safely and effectively as well as ensure appropriate supervision of those in custody.”
The investment, stated Warner, will also help improve care for female inmates and offer flexibility of care throughout the region.
Locally, Warner explained, the facility in Napanee will see a new construct adjacent to the existing facility. This new unit will be dedicated to women and will be both single-storey and single occupancy.
“Each living unit for women will have a dedicated recreation yard,” Warner added.
“Additionally, we will continue to operate the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre using its most modern parts,” said Warner. “Once the new Greater Ottawa Correctional Complex is completed, capacity at the existing Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre will be re-evaluated with the potential to retrofit and re-purpose areas to support modernized service delivery and improve programming for inmates and training for staff.”
The proposed capacity for each project is:
- Replacement of the Brockville Jail – 66 beds
- Expansion of the St. Lawrence Valley Correctional Treatment Centre – 25 beds dedicated for women
- Greater Ottawa Correctional Complex (Kemptville) – 235 beds
- Expansion of the Quinte Detention Centre – 48 beds dedicated for women
Though part of the focus of this investment will be on expanding capacity, the following types of programming space may be found in the new correctional facilities:
- Program and cultural spaces
- Appropriate level of alternative housing and medical/mental health services
- Regular access to outdoor spaces
- Open visitation spaces
- Improved professional development space for staff
- Modernized spaces for centralized administration, reception and visitation, staff facilities and Institutional Crisis Intervention Teams
Warner noted that the modernization strategy builds upon the announcement of hiring 500 additional correctional staff. The announcement regarding the hiring of additional staff was made earlier this summer.
“Our modernization strategy builds on our announcement of hiring over 500 additional correctional staff. These are important steps forward to creating a system that will ensure staff safety while providing appropriate custody of inmates,” he said.
“Our government heard from corrections staff across the province about the challenges they face each and every day,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “These investments will create a better, safer environment for our hard-working frontline staff and will help strengthen Ontario’s corrections system.”
When asked when the project may be completed, Warner noted a date is yet to be set.
“We’re excited to break ground on this innovative project, but it’s in the early stages of development,” stated Warner. “Until the procurement process is complete, and the parties have agreed to a schedule, we’re unable to establish a definitive timeline for construction.”