Policy and Political Action

Policy & Political Action

Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services

RNAO appreciated the opportunity to participate in the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services' (MCSCS) roundtable engagement on corrections reform legislation held in Toronto on July 19, 2017. Given the short one-week deadline for further feedback, RNAO will focus our responses on a few key themes related to legislative change and recommendations on improving health care in corrections. RNAO and our Ontario Correctional Nurses' Interest Group (OCNIG) remain unwavering in our commitment to continuous engagement with MCSCS and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) in support of a transformed correctional system that is safer, healthier, and more equitable for inmates, staff, and the larger community. As further context, please see RNAO's extensive list of recommendations to the MCSCS in Transforming Ontario's Correctional Services: Starting but Not Stopping, with Segregation.1

Transformation of the correction system requires a strong legislative foundation

RNAO strongly urges full implementation of all recommendations proposed by the Sapers Report, including passing a modernized Ministry of Correctional Services Act in the current legislative session.2 Just as the Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act, 2004 includes a principle-based preamble, RNAO recommends that this revised legislation include the purpose and principles3 of correctional services, including an ethical framework that respects the inherent dignity of all human beings.4 5 6
RNAO fully endorses the MCSCS suggested draft purpose of the Ontario Correctional Service, "to contribute to the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by providing safe and humane supervision and by supporting rehabilitation and reintegration of people into the community." The first basic principle identified by the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisons (the Nelson Mandela Rules) is that "all prisoners shall be treated with the respect due to their inherent dignity and value as human beings."7 As a preface to his recommendations on segregation, Howard Sapers stressed the need to keep "in mind that incarceration must be used as a last resort and people are sent to a correctional facility as punishment, not for punishment and, that inmates retain all the rights of free persons, other than those necessarily removed by the fact of confinement."8 RNAO recommends, in the strongest possible terms, using the Mandela Rules as a foundation for legislation, regulations, and policy direction of correctional reform as they will move the province towards meeting its human rights obligations and help drive needed cultural change within the criminal justice and correctional system.


1 Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (2016). Transforming Ontario's Correctional Services: Staring, But Not Stopping, with Segregation. Toronto: Author.

2 Sapers, H. (2017). Segregation in Ontario: Independent Review of Ontario Corrections. Toronto: Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, 103-111. http://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/Corrections/IndependentReviewOntarioCorrections/IndependentReviewOntarioCorrectionsSegregationOntario.html

3 Corrections and Conditional Release Act (S.C. 1992, c.20), section 3.

4 United Nations General Assembly (2015). United Nations standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules). Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on December 17, 2015.

5 Coyle, A. (2009). A Human Rights Approach to Prison: Handbook for Prison Staff. London: International Centre for Prison Studies, King's College London.

6 United Nations General Assembly (1990). Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisons. A/RES/45/11. 68th Plenary Meeting, December 14, 1990. http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/45/a45r111.htm

7 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2016). The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules). Vienna: Author, 2.

8 Sapers, 103.

Submission to MCSCS432.46 KB
MCSCS Response to RNAO August 201714.94 KB
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