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Ontario to spend $1.2B on new correctional complex in Thunder Bay

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones responds to a question during a press conference at Queen's Park in Toronto on Friday, December 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

Ontario is investing $1.2 billion to build a new Thunder Bay Correctional Complex, set to be completed by the fall of 2026.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones made the announcement Monday, and says it’s part of building a modern correctional system that supports public safety, meets the care and programming needs of those in custody, and provides a safe environment for staff.

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The government also announced $96 million for expansion projects, including at the Kenora jail.

The jails have long been the subject of complaints, with the provincial ombudsman calling the conditions in the facilities “appalling” and “disturbing” in a 2020 report.

Ombudsman Paul Dube said some facilities had three or four inmates bunked in cells designed for two, and some inmates were housed in areas not designated for living purposes.

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In some parts of the Thunder Bay and Kenora jails, he said inmates had no direct access to toilets, and were subjected to frequent, prolonged lockdowns, which in turn limited access to fresh air, running water and programs.

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