Learn about Ontario’s plan to address the root causes of crime and break the cycle of offending.
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Justice centres move justice out of the traditional courtroom into a community setting. They bring together justice, health and social services to address the root causes of crime, break the cycle of offending and improve community safety.
Justice centres hold individuals accountable for their offences while connecting them to services (such as health, mental health, addictions, housing and employment supports) that reduce the risk of re-offending and support communities and victims harmed by crime.
Ontario’s plan for justice centres builds on past conversations with communities, including community needs assessments conducted in Toronto-Downtown East, Kenora and London in 2017 and 2018, along with a community needs review in Toronto’s Northwest in 2019.
Justice centres will be established in four communities in Ontario. Each justice centre will be designed by and for the community it serves - with residents, police officers, justice partners, health and social service providers, community groups, victims organizations, businesses and Indigenous leaders.
We will be taking a phased approach to designing, piloting, evaluating and expanding each justice centre, and measuring their performance to make sure they are delivering results. This staged, evidence-informed approach will ensure we make smart investments that support a more integrated and sustainable criminal justice system in Ontario. Find out how to receive updates on next steps for each community.
Our needs assessment demonstrated that communities in Toronto’s downtown east are hard at work breaking cycles of offending for Ontarians affected by homelessness, poverty and mental health and addiction issues.
To help local justice, health and social service partners, we are exploring approaches that seek to improve both urban community health and criminal justice outcomes. Our focus will be on breaking the cycle of offending by addressing factors that cause criminal behaviour and how social environments affect health.
Neighbourhoods in Toronto’s Northwest are experiencing escalating gun crime and violence that often involve youth and young adults. We will be undertaking a crime response scan and community assessment as a first step towards establishing a justice centre in these communities. As part of this work, we will explore gun violence intervention and prevention strategies, as well as programs that provide employment, education, and skills training, so that at-risk youth have new alternatives to criminal activity and better opportunities to improve their social and economic futures.
Our needs assessment demonstrated that Kenora’s criminal justice system reinforces cyclical patterns for Indigenous people who often face challenges rooted in forced relocation, loss of culture, involvement in the child welfare system, systemic discrimination, racism and sexual abuse. Each of these factors can inform how an Indigenous person may experience the justice system, particularly in Kenora.
In response to these complex issues, we are exploring a justice approach that uses parallel criminal and Indigenous restorative justice processes. These two streams would increase Indigenous leadership in restorative justice practices, provide multi-disciplinary trauma-informed supports, and provide culturally-appropriate services run by local service providers, Indigenous organizations and First Nations leadership.
Our needs assessment demonstrated that many young adults in London are falling through the cracks once they age out of child protection or teenage social and health services. Young adults aged 18-25 account for a disproportionate share of criminal and Mental Health Act charges in London, and young adults in London are much more likely to be unemployed and lacking in education or training when compared to young adults in other communities in Ontario.
In response, we are exploring approaches that address the relationship between the adult criminal justice system, the child protection system and the youth justice system. Our focus will be on helping young people avoid and exit the adult criminal justice system through stronger collaboration with justice, health, education, child protection and social service providers.
For general updates on Ontario’s plan for justice centres, email firstname.lastname@example.org .