On July 7, 2020, a coalition including HALCO submitted a letter to the Ontario government requesting that they publicly disclose data regarding the prevalence of COVID-19 in provincial correctional facilities and the steps being taken to prevent the spread of the virus. This information is vital for all Ontarians, but especially for Indigenous and Black communities that are over-represented in these institutions. Included in the letter is a Freedom of Information request for the following information:
- The regular, online reporting of data disaggregated by race, gender, and correctional institution about testing and positive cases among staff and those in custody in Ontario;
- Information about access for staff and people in custody in each institution to personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitation tools, and information identifying by whom and how frequently cleaning and sanitation of common areas is being performed; and
- A breakdown of the numbers of those serving sentences who have been released from custody since March 16, 2020, as well as data about the people who have entered the provincial correctional system, both on remand and those serving sentences, disaggregated by race and gender, since that date.
The coalition is comprised of the following organizations:
- Aboriginal Legal Services (ALS)
- Alliance for Healthier Communities
- Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC)
- Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA)
- Criminal Law Group at Queen’s University
- Grand Council Treaty 3
- HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO)
- Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN)
- Nishnawbe-Aski Legal Services
- Queen’s Prison Law Clinic (QPLC)
The letter can be found here.
The press release can be found here.