Ontario to strengthen corrections in Kenora, Thunder Bay

Merna Emara
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Ontario government there are investments underway in infrastructure expansion projects at both the Kenora Jail and Thunder Bay Correctional Centre. The projects are part of the government’s strategy to invest more than $500 million over five years to transform correctional services and improve health and safety through new hiring and infrastructure improvements, according to a press release.

Greg Rickford, minister of Indigenous affairs and MPP for Kenora–Rainy River, said these projects support their goal of ensuring the province’s justice system is responsive to the needs of Indigenous people and communities.

“By expanding these existing facilities, we are providing Indigenous individuals in custody with greater opportunities for skills development, education and literacy,” Rickford said.

The press release said this investment will help address overcrowding in Kenora and Thunder Bay during construction of the new facility in Thunder Bay. The new structures at both correctional facilities will also allow for increased access to programs that support safe community reintegration.

“Our government is taking action to improve the safety of corrections staff and inmates while providing culturally appropriate programming and services for Indigenous individuals,” Sylvia Jones, solicitor general, said. “These measures will strengthen Ontario’s corrections system and support public safety in the Thunder Bay and Kenora regions.”

Wade Sutherland, acting president of OPSEU Local 719, said he is pleased by the announcement of the infrastructure for the Kenora Jail and the improvements to be done for hiring staff.

“We will continue to work with the government to see this through to make the Kenora Jail a safer place. I’d like to thank Mr. Rickford for bringing our local issues to the forefront of this government,” Sutherland.

Indigenous leadership and organizations will have input into the design of the new spaces and other culturally appropriate aspects of the facilities.