Toronto – On January 16, 2018, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) issued a Consent Order requiring Ontario to end the use of segregation for people with mental health disabilities across its 26 correctional facilities, barring exceptional circumstances. The Order was obtained on the consent of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) and the Ontario government.
The Order arises from a 2012 human rights application filed by Christina Jahn, who alleged that she was placed in long-term segregation at the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre because of her mental health disabilities and gender. The OHRC intervened in Ms. Jahn’s case, and in 2013 the parties reached a settlement, which should have resulted in major reforms to Ontario’s use of segregation.
By September 2017, after obtaining statistical information from the Government and meeting with vulnerable prisoners across the province, the OHRC had serious concerns about the continuing overuse of segregation and filed a contravention application alleging that the Government was in breach of the settlement.
The Order resolves the contravention application and sets out concrete steps that Ontario must take to make sure people with mental health disabilities are kept out of segregation. These include accurately identifying prisoners with mental health disabilities, as well as tracking and monitoring segregation use and its impact on health.
The Order also imposes significant accountability and transparency mechanisms. It requires the Government to consult with an independent expert to implement the terms, appoint an independent reviewer to monitor compliance, and collect and release data on segregation use.
“The Order confirms that the government must take immediate action to end the segregation of people with mental health disabilities. It also includes measures that will keep the spotlight on corrections for years to come,” said OHRC Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane. “We call on the government to introduce legislation that places human rights at the centre of provincial corrections and addresses the needs of Indigenous and Black prisoners, who remain overrepresented in prisons and jails.”
- Legal background: Jahn v. Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
- Consent order (2018)
- Contravention application (2017)
- Jahn Schedule “C” Public interest remedies (2015)
- Jahn Schedule “A” Public interest remedies (2013)
Senior Communications Advisor (Acting)
Ontario Human Rights Commission
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