An Act to amend the Ministry
of Correctional Services Act
with respect to parole hearings
and the disclosure of information
by the Board of Parole,
to ensure greater fairness
and broader access for
victims, inmates and others
Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:
1.Part III (Parole) of the Ministry of Correctional Services Act is amended by adding the following sections:
Application to attend parole hearing
36.1 (1)A person may apply in writing to the Board for permission to attend a hearing relating to an inmate.
(2)Subject to subsection (3), the Board shall permit the person to attend the hearing unless it is satisfied that the person's presence,
(a)individually or in combination with other persons who have applied for permission to attend the hearing, is likely to disrupt the hearing or adversely affect the Board's ability to consider the matters before it;
(b)is likely to adversely affect a person who has provided information to the Board, including a victim, a member of a victim's family or a member of the inmate's family;
(c)is likely to adversely affect an appropriate balance between the person's or the public's interest in knowing about the hearing and the public's interest in the inmate's effective reintegration into society; or
(d)is likely to adversely affect the security and good order of the place where the hearing is to be held.
Exclusion of observers
(3)If during a hearing the Board concludes that a situation described in subsection (2) is likely to exist, it may decide to continue the hearing in the absence of observers or of a particular observer.
Disclosure of information
(4)Information and documents discussed or referred at a hearing shall not be considered to be disclosed to the public for the purpose of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act by reason only that an observer is present during the hearing.
Assistance to inmate
(5)If the inmate is present at a hearing, the Board shall permit a person of the inmate's choice to assist him or her, unless the Board would not permit the person to attend under subsection (2).
Role of assistant
(6)Subject to subsection (3), a person assisting the inmate under subsection (5) is entitled to,
(a)be present at the hearing whenever the inmate is present;
(b)advise the inmate throughout the hearing; and
(c)address the Board on the inmate's behalf.
(7)An inmate is entitled to the assistance of an interpreter,
(a)at the hearing, if the inmate does not understand the language in which it is being conducted; and
(b)in connection with the documents provided under section 36.2.
Disclosure to inmate
36.2 (1)At least 15 days before the day set for its review of an inmate's case, the Board shall give the inmate a document summarizing the information that is to be considered in the review.
(2)If the Board acquires further information after giving the inmate a document under subsection (1), it shall promptly give him or her a document summarizing the further information.
(3)The Board may withhold information from a document under subsection (1) or (2) if it has reasonable grounds to believe that,
(a)it is not in the public interest to disclose the information; or
(b)disclosure of the information would jeopardize,
(i)any person's safety,
(ii)the security of a correctional institution, or
(iii)the conduct of a lawful investigation.
Mandatory disclosure to victim
36.3 (1)At the request of a victim of an offence committed by an inmate, the Board shall disclose to the victim,
(a)the inmate's name;
(b)information to identify the offence of which the inmate was convicted and the court that convicted the inmate;
(c)the length of the inmate's sentence and the date of its commencement; and
(d)eligibility dates and review dates applicable to the inmate in respect of parole and temporary absences.
Discretionary disclosure to victim
(2)At the request of a victim of an offence committed by an inmate, the Board may disclose to the victim, if in its opinion the victim's interest in the disclosure clearly outweighs any invasion of the inmate's privacy that could result from the disclosure,
(a)the offender's age;
(b)the location of the correctional institution where the sentence is being served or to which the inmate is transferred;
(c)the date of any Board hearing relating to the inmate;
(d)any date on which the inmate is to be released on parole or on temporary absence;
(e)the inmate's route and destination when released on parole or on temporary absence;
(f)whether the inmate is in custody and, if not, why not; and
(g)whether the inmate has appealed a decision of the Board, and the outcome of the appeal.
(3)Subsections (1) and (2) also apply, with necessary modifications, to a person who satisfies the Board,
(a)that he or she suffered harm or physical or emotional damage as a result of an inmate's act, even if the inmate was not prosecuted or convicted for the act; and
(b)that a complaint was made or an information laid in respect of the act.
Board's written decisions
36.4 (1)A victim of an offence committed by an inmate is entitled, on request, to receive a copy of any written decision of the Board that relates to the inmate and the offence.
(2)Subject to section 36.5, a member of the public is entitled to inspect any written decision of the Board and to make a copy at his or her own expense.
36.5 The Board has the same power to forbid, in the best interests of the victim of the offence, the publication of a decision it has made or of information about a hearing it has held, as a superior court has in criminal matters.
2.This Act comes into force on the day that is 120 days after the day it receives Royal Assent.
3.The short title of this Act is the Ministry of Correctional Services Amendment Act, 2000.
The Bill amends the Ministry of Correctional Services Act in relation to parole hearings. Here is a summary of the changes:
1.Members of the public may attend parole hearings, with the permission of the Board of Parole. The Board gives permission unless it is satisfied that a person's presence is likely to have adverse consequences. (Subsections 36.1 (1), (2), (3) and (4) of Act.)
2.Inmates who are present at parole hearings may, with the Board's permission, be assisted by the persons of their choice. Inmates with language difficulties are entitled to the assistance of interpreters. (Subsections 36.1 (5), (6) and (7) of Act.)
3.Subject to public interest exceptions, before reviewing an inmate's case the Board is required to give the inmate a summary of the information to be considered in the review. (Section 36.2 of Act.)
4.The victim of an offence committed by an inmate is entitled, on request, to receive basic information about the inmate. The Board has discretion to disclose additional information about the inmate. (Section 36.3 of Act.)
5.The victim of an offence committed by an inmate is entitled, on request, to receive a copy of any written decision of the Board that relates to the inmate and the offence. Members of the public are entitled to inspect and copy any of the Board's written decisions. (Section 36.4 of Act.)
6.The Board may ban the publication of a decision it has made or of information about a hearing it has held, in the best interests of the victim of the offence. This power is analogous to the power superior courts have in criminal cases.