Policy and Political Action

Policy & Political Action

Urge Ontario to transfer health care in correctional facilities to the Ministry of Health

As we have learned from numerous inquests, lawsuits, and reports, and as we have heard from the experience of nurses working in corrections, Ontario's correctional system is challenged to address the physical and mental health needs of incarcerated people. Transformative structural change is needed immediately. Now is the time to make our voices heard as the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care are currently reviewing the recommendations of the Independent Advisor on Correctional Reform.

RNAO has spoken out about the dangers of segregation, nursing shortages within corrections and the need to transfer governance of health from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC). On May 4, 2017, the Independent Advisor on Correctional Reform, Howard Sapers, released his interim report on the use of segregation in Ontario. As part of its response to the Sapers report, the province agreed to explore options to shift the oversight and provision of health care services from MCSCS to the MOHLTC.

The current structure, which has nurses reporting to corrections and corrections making decisions about nursing and health care, is not suited to best serve inmates. Correctional health services should be fully independent of prison administrations yet liaise effectively with them. In a 2013 report, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that clearly dividing roles between the ministry in charge of prisons and the health ministry would be the most effective and efficient arrangement to achieve sustainable high standards in both prison security and prison health.

British Columbia, Alberta, and Nova Scotia have already transferred responsibility for health-care oversight and delivery from corrections ministries to their respective ministries of health. It is time for Ontario to do the same and protect the health of inmates by transferring governance of health services from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

This action alert will be addressed to:

  • Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
  • Hon. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
  • Hon. Marie-France Lalonde, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services

Copies will be sent to:

  • Patrick Brown, Leader of the Official Opposition
  • Andrea Horwath, Leader of the New Democratic Party of Ontario
  • John Fraser, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
  • Soo Wong, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
  • Jeff Yurek, PC Critic for Health
  • Rick Nicholls, PC Critic for Correctional Services
  • France Gélinas, NDP Critic for Health Critic
  • Taras Natyshak, NDP Critic for Community Safety and Correctional Services
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