Prison Health as Public Health in Ontario Corrections

Yoko Murphy, Howard Sapers


The majority of incarcerated individuals in Canada, and especially in Ontario provincial correctional institutions, are released into the community after a short duration in custody. Adult correctional populations have generally poor health, including a heightened prevalence of mental health and substance use disorders. There are legal and ethical obligations to address health care needs of incarcerated individuals, and also public health benefits from ensuring adequate, appropriate, and accessible health services to individuals in custody. The Independent Review of Ontario Corrections recommended the transformation of health care in Ontario provincial corrections in 2017, including transferring health service responsibilities to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The Correctional Services and Reintegration Act, 2018, would affirm the provincial government’s obligation to provide patient-centred, equitable health care services for individuals in custody. We encourage the Government of Ontario to proclaim the Act and continue the momentum of recent reform efforts in Ontario.


Public health; prison health; Ontario; correctional institutions; correctional health care, Independent Review of Ontario Corrections.

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ISSN: 2371-4298 (Online)