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Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee

The criminal justice system can be a double-edged sword for individuals with mental health conditions. Research indicates that the culture of the criminal justice system, especially within correctional facilities, can aggravate pre-existing mental health conditions, and impede recovery and successful transition back into the community. Yet the criminal justice system can also provide the first point of contact for accessing mental health services that can make a positive difference in the lives of those with mental illnesses.

In recognition of the need to coordinate resources between the health care system and the justice system, the Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committees (HSJCCs) were established based on the Provincial Strategy to Coordinate Human Services and Criminal Justice Systems in Ontario (1997), in order to plan more effectively for people who are in conflict with the law. Priority consideration is for people with a serious mental illness, developmental disability, acquired brain injury, drug and alcohol addiction, and/or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

The HSJCC network is comprised of 14 Regional HSJC Committees, 39 Local HSJC Committees and one Provincial HSJCC funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Each HSJCC is a voluntary collaboration between health and social service organizations, community mental health and addictions organizations and partners from the justice sector including crown attorneys, judges, police services and correctional service providers. The Regional and Local HSJCCs coordinate communication and service integration planning among health, social services and criminal justice organizations within specific regions. Structurally, the Local HSJCCs provide input to the fourteen Regional HSJCCs which in turn provide input to the Provincial HSJCC. As well, the entire network of 54 committees supports knowledge transfer across the province.

The Provincial HSJCC consists of regional chairs representing their Regions and ex-officio members from important stakeholder groups such as Corrections Services Canada, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police. There are also ex-officio representatives from the Ministries of the Attorney General, Community and Social Services, Health and Long-Term Care, Community Safety and Correctional Services and Children and Youth Services.

How is CMHA Ontario involved?

Since 2009, CMHA Ontario has been providing support to the Provincial HSJCC through capacity building, planning and policy advice, and administrative support, to carry out its mission, which is:

a) To support the individual and collective efforts of Regional and Local Committees.
b) To identify provincial service and policy issues and make recommendations to address such issues to appropriate government and other bodies as determined by the nature of the issues.
c) To identify solutions to systemic problems.
d) To promote consistency of approach across Ontario, while recognizing regional diversity.
e) To share information across the HSJCC network and beyond (knowledge transfer).

With the assistance of CMHA Ontario, some recent initiatives of the Provincial HSJCC have included:

For more information on HSJCC’s  and related resources, please visit the HSJCC website.