In her annual report released on September 24, Québec Ombudsperson (Protecteur du citoyen) Marie Rinfret noted that despite her repeated requests, the required changes to health services and social services in correctional facilities still have not been made across Québec.

“The transfer of healthcare responsibilities in correctional facilities to the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux began in 2016. Since then, the transfer has occurred almost everywhere in Québec and there has been noticeable improvement. However, I cannot help wondering why the Québec City and Montréal facilities, which account for 40% of the detention population, were not part of the transfer,” says the Ombudsperson.

Intermittent sentences still an issue

Another known issue for which solutions are slow to be put in place concerns intermittent sentences. In a special report released in 2018, the Québec Ombudsman spoke out against the consequences of the increase in this kind of sentence, such as greater overcrowding. In the Québec Ombudsman’s opinion, alternatives to incarceration must be considered. When alternatives are not possible, current practices must change. In its Annual Report, the Québec Ombudsman has asked the Ministère de la Sécurité publique to, no later than December 1, 2020, provide it with a timeline for fully implementing its recommendations.

In 2019-2020, the Québec Ombudsman intervened regarding:

  • The Commission québécoise des libérations conditionnelles;
  • The Ministère de la Sécurité publique;
  • The 18 correctional facilities under the Department’s jurisdiction.

The percentage of substantiated complaints is 43%. The majority concern lengthy wait times, shortcomings with the living environment, and failure to uphold detainees’ rights.

Acting impartially and independently, the Québec Ombudsman ensures that the rights of people are upheld in their interactions with public services. Its services are free and user-friendly.

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