Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario Division fully endorses Mr. Sapers’ interim report and recommendations and applauds the government for exploring options to transfer the responsibility for health care in correctional facilities to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
“Time spent in custody, and solitary confinement especially, can aggravate pre-existing mental health and addictions conditions and impede recovery and successful transition back into the community,” said Camille Quenneville, CEO, CMHA Ontario. “In the most severe cases, irresponsible use of solitary confinement for individuals with serious mental health issues can be life-threatening.”
“Appropriately shifting the responsibility for health care in correctional facilities would be a key and necessary step to help vulnerable populations in custody,” said Quenneville. “It would no doubt be a complex transition but as a community mental health and addictions agency with expertise in the intersecting issues of justice and mental health and addictions, CMHA Ontario is here to support such a shift.”
The justice system can sometimes be the first point of access for individuals to receive any type of mental health and addictions services. This leads to the over-representation of people with serious mental health and addictions issues in Ontario courts and correctional and remand facilities.
With 30 community branches across Ontario, CMHAs help individuals with mental health and addictions issues navigate the justice system with an end goal of enhancing recovery and reducing recidivism.
CMHA Ontario is also member of Ontario’s Correctional Health Care Coalition led by the John Howard Society of Ontario.
“We invite the government to partner with and access the resources of Ontario’s Correctional Health Care Coalition, whose mandate includes all aspects of health care within correctional facilities in this province,” Quenneville said.
- Most people with a mental health problem and/or mental illness do not come into contact with the criminal justice system.
- Several populations with higher prevalence rates of mental illnesses such as psychosis, depression, anxiety, and substance-related disorders are over-represented in Canada’s correctional facilities.
- It costs $72 per day to house a person in community with supports; it costs up to $460 per day to keep a person in jail.
About Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) works toward a single mission: to make mental health possible for all. The vision of CMHA Ontario is a society that believes mental health is the key to well-being. CMHA Ontario works closely with 30 local branches to serve nearly 100,000 Ontarians across the province every year. Nationally, the CMHA is the oldest, most extensive community mental health organization in Canada, celebrating 100 years in 2018.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
E: jkim [at] ontario [dot] cmha [dot] ca
T: 416-977-5580 ext. 4141