Koskie Minsky LLP announces filing of a class action against the Province of Ontario on behalf of prisoners of Ontario correctional institutions


TORONTO, Aug. 15, 2016 /CNW/ - Koskie Minsky LLP announces the filing in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice of a class action against the Province of Ontario on behalf of prisoners in Ontario's correctional institutions.

The action alleges that endemic lockdowns arising from the Province of Ontario's failure to properly staff its correctional institutions facilities have caused and continue to cause tremendous physical and psychological damage to inmates across the Province.

A staffing-related "lockdown" of a correctional institution occurs when prisoners are locked in their cells due to shortages of prison staff. Lockdowns can last for days or even weeks at a time. Staffing-related lockdowns have become a common feature of Ontario's correctional institutions that deprive prisoners of their most basic rights.

When the correctional institutions are locked down, prisoners suffer from a deprivation of healthcare, privacy, dignity, security, and hygiene. They are deprived of access to fresh air, showers, medical care, phone calls, visits from their families, and legal counsel, often for many days at a time.

The action alleges that the Province of Ontario was negligent and breached its fiduciary duty to prisoners in the correctional institutions. The action also alleges that the Province violated the prisoners' rights under section 7 (life, liberty and security of the person), section 9 (arbitrary detention and imprisonment) and section 12 (cruel and unusual treatment) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"For too long, the Province of Ontario has neglected to protect the basic rights of inmates in its correctional institutions," explains Kirk M. Baert of Koskie Minsky LLP. "Inmates of Ontario's correctional institutions are entirely at the mercy of the Province for their care and control. Staffing-related lockdowns are an inappropriate and unacceptable form of incarceration."

"We have been contacted by a groundswell of prisoners from across the Province who have reported common conditions under lockdowns that systematically persist across Ontario," added Jonathan Ptak of Koskie Minsky LLP. "These chronic and prolonged lockdowns are a tremendously inappropriate method of operating the Ontario correctional institutions."

A recent decision of Justice Gray of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice styled Ogiamien v. Ontario awarded two inmates of Maplehurst Correctional Complex a total of $85,000 arising from breaches of section 12 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms caused by staffing-related lockdowns at that facility.

Current and former prisoners of Ontario correctional institutions are encouraged to visit https://kmlaw.ca/ontarioprison, email ontarioprison@kmlaw.ca, or call 1 (866) 777-6339 to provide information to support the case.

Koskie Minsky LLP, based in Toronto, is one of Canada's foremost class action, pension, labour, employment and litigation firms. Its class actions group has been a leader in class actions since 1992 and has prosecuted many of the leading cases in the area.  For example, Koskie Minsky LLP was counsel to the survivors of Huronia Regional Centre and 14 other facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities, who recently received court approval of settlements with the Province of Ontario totalling $103.7 million.   Koskie Minsky LLP was also counsel in Cloud v. Canada, the first Indian residential schools class action certified in Canada which resulted in a $4 billion pan-Canadian settlement.

Koskie Minsky LLP is working with Christopher Watkins of Watkins Law Professional Corporation. Christopher Watkins, based in Thunder Bay, brings extensive courtroom and trial experience in the areas of personal injury and criminal litigation.

SOURCE Koskie Minsky LLP

For further information: Media contacts: Kirk M. Baert, (416) 595-2117, kbaert@kmlaw.ca; Jonathan Ptak, (416) 595-2149, jptak@kmlaw.ca

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