Ontario ombudsman receives record number of complaints about provincial jails

Ontario’s ombudsman is raising concerns about conditions in the province’s correctional facilities after receiving over 6,000 complaints from inmates last year.

Paul Dubé details problems with overcrowding, poor living conditions, and lack of inmate access to medical care in his annual report released Tuesday.

Dubé says the number of complaints are a record for the watchdog’s office and he and his staff visited correctional facilities themselves multiple times to investigate.

He says at some facilities, including the Thunder Bay and Kenora jails, his team observed what he calls disturbing conditions.

The report notes that some facilities had three or four inmates bunked in cells designed for two, and saw inmates housed in areas not designated for living purposes.

The ombudsman says his office has also received over 800 complaints related to the COVID-19 pandemic and launched an investigation into long-term care homes earlier this year.