December 13, 2023
The jury in the coroner’s inquest into the death Soleiman Faqiri, who died in custody at Central East Correctional Centre, has included all of the recommendations from CMHA Ontario in their final ruling.
The jury made 57 recommendations aimed at preventing future deaths in provincial correctional institutions. Their verdict deemed Soleiman’s tragic death a homicide.
The recommendations, which are directed to the Government of Ontario, include improving oversight and accountability mechanisms within the government, improving the governance of correctional healthcare and addressing healthcare capacity issues within the correctional system in Ontario, especially as it related to mental healthcare, improving coordination between the mental health, justice and correctional sectors, and training and education related to mental health issues.
The first recommendations call on the government to “develop and issue a public position statement within 60 days of this verdict recognizing that correctional facilities are not an appropriate environment for persons in custody experiencing significant mental health issues.”
The recommendations also ask the government to “take immediate steps to ensure that any person in custody experiencing an acute mental health crisis is admitted to hospital” for assessment and treatment and that the government explicitly adopts the “principle of equivalence” which requires that persons in custody receive the equivalent quality and standard of healthcare services as is available in the community.
The jury also recommended transferring correctional healthcare from the Ministry of the Solicitor General to the Ministry of Health by establishing a Provincial Agency within the Ministry of Health to directly deliver and oversee healthcare services in correctional facilities—a recommendation based on evidence from British Columbia, which transferred correctional healthcare to the Provincial Health Services Authority in 2017.
In addition, the recommendations identify opportunities for better integration of our healthcare, justice and correctional systems by drawing on the experience, expertise, and resources of community-based mental health organizations, including:
- Better information sharing between community mental health providers and healthcare staff in corrections.
- Implementing evidenced-based integrated mental healthcare pathways between hospitals, correctional facilities and community-based mental health services.
- Increasing resources to support consistent implementation, evaluation, and standardization of best practices in community-based mental health care, such as assertive community treatment and/ or case management, supportive housing, mental health court support, and prison in-reach teams to provide ongoing support to persons with mental health issues who are involved in the justice system.
- Establishing formalized partnerships with community mental health agencies to be able to provide mental health services and resources within correctional facilities.
To be able to effectively implement these recommendations, the jury also tasked the government to allocate funding and resources in the 2025 provincial budget.
CMHA Ontario looks forward to working with our ministry partners across the province, and in collaboration with the Provincial Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee, our local branches, and community partners to implement these recommendations and help prevent future deaths in custody.
We would also like to share our deepest condolences to the Faqiri family. We are committed to making sure that individuals with mental health issues and their families are provided with the support and care they need in the community to prevent potential justice involvement and incarceration in the future.