MOMS Advocacy Letter

The Honourable Sylvia Jones

Minister of the Solicitor General

18th Floor, 25 Grosvenor Street
Toronto ON M7A 1Y6

June 6, 2021

Dear Ms Jones,

Subject: Concern About the Disbanding of the Community Advisory Boards in all Ontario Correctional Institutions

MOMS Ottawa (Mothers Offering Mutual Support) feels betrayed, blindsided and outraged by the news that Community Advisory Boards (CABs) for all Ontario correctional institutions have been disbanded as of June 4, 2021.

We view this as a grave mistake for many reasons, but mostly because it will decrease transparency across the system. It appears as if the Ontario Correctional Institutions may have something to hide.

CABs were set up to “increase transparency and accountability within Correctional services by strengthening the links between correctional facilities and the communities they serve” to quote the website of the Solicitor General.

CABs have had access to inspect and tour institutions, with access to inmates and staff alike on a 24/7 basis. In addition, they met with superintendents monthly to discuss and resolve issues. Inmates were able to request a visit from the CAB. The CAB were required to present annual reports to the Minister, which they did. Unfortunately, we noted that the last report the Minister allowed to be publicly posted was in 2016, an indication to us that the government was already minimizing their role.

MOMS Ottawa has had an excellent relationship with the OCDC CAB. We communicated frequently to report on and hear of related issues. We were able to ask questions that our members raised. We relied on them for advice on the workings and conditions inside. The CAB always responded promptly and professionally to our requests. They were able to bridge the divide that separates us, the families of prisoners, and the superintendent of OCDC.

MOMS has been a stakeholder in Corrections for over a decade. Our essential function, as a strictly volunteer group, is to give support to women who have criminalized family members, liaise with other stakeholders in corrections and advocate for improvements in the criminal justice system.

A few of MOMS involvements in corrections include:  

  • MOMS was a member of the 2016 Task Force on OCDC
  • we were granted official standing to participate in the inquests into the OCDC deaths by suicide of both Cleve Geddes and Justin St. Amour
  • we contributed our ideas and expertise into Bill 6, the Correctional Services Transformation Act (2018) which the present government has unfortunately not brought into force
  • we are a member of the Community Adult Justice Network (CAJN)
  • we are a member of the Correctional Reform Coalition
  • we were invited to participate in the stakeholders meeting with SolGen to discuss the proposed new jail in Kemptville

The Solicitor General’s discarding of the CABs serves to eliminate a layer of transparency and accountability that is essential to inmates and their families and that was implemented after much thought for the benefit of communities and institutions alike.

In our opinion, to eliminate these boards will put a lie to the objective of transparency in the system.

We, MOMS OTTAWA, request that the government rescind the decision to disband the CABS in Ontario Corrections. The Community Advisory Boards are seen by criminal justice experts and advocates as an important independent body in the Government’s promise of transparency and accountability.

We request a detailed explanation for this decision.


Members of MOMS Ottawa Advocacy Committee

            Marjorie Jestin

            Farhat Rehman

            Anne Cattral

            Lorraine Berzins

            Gail Bury

            Pauline Budd

            Mary Crawford

cc:        Premier Doug Ford

            Deputy Premier Christine Elliott

            Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

            Andrea Horwath, Leader of the Opposition

            Gilles Bisson, Critic, Community Safety and Corrections

            Lucille Collard, Vice-chair Standing Committee on Justice

            Kevin Yarde, Member Standing Committee on Justice

            Parm Gill, Member Standing Committee on Justice

            Joel Harden, Member Standing Committee on Social Policy

            Paul Dube, Ontario Ombudsman

Correctional Reform Coalition

            Criminalization Punishment and Education Project (CPEP)

            Community Adult Justice Network (CAJN)

            Michael Spratt, Criminal Law Specialist, Abergel Goldstein & Partners

            Paul Champ, Champ and Associate, Principal Lawyer

            Senator Kim Pate

            Louise Leonardi, Executive Director, CFCN

            Howard Sapers, Independent Review of Ontario Corrections