Lawsuit over youth placed in solitary confinement in Ontario allowed to proceed

January 14, 2019

A lawsuit against the Ontario government on behalf of juvenile inmates placed in solitary confinement has been certified as a class action at an uncontested hearing.

In a decision on Dec. 17, Superior Court Justice Paul Perell certified the class action. Ontario did not oppose the certification.

"The class members are all young people who are subject to segregation for extended periods of time," Kirk M. Baert, lead counsel at Koskie Minsky LLP, said in a news release on Saturday.

"This practice is shocking and unacceptable. We will continue to push the case forward seeking justice for all class members."

According to the amended statement of claim, the province allegedly improperly placed a number of inmates under the age of 18 in "youth segregation" at youth justice facilities operated by the Ontario ministry of children and youth services between April 1, 2004 and Dec. 17, 2018.

Youth segregation is defined as the placing of a person under 18 alone in a given room or area for more than six hours straight without "any meaningful human contact."

It doesn't include segregation by reason of a lockdown or the routine locking up of young people in their rooms overnight at youth justice facilities.

The claim alleges the government has been negligent, breached its fiduciary duties, and violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The representative plaintiff is identified as only C.S., who the claim alleges was incarcerated at the Roy McMurtry Youth Centre and Brookside Youth Centre and spent time in solitary on several occasions.

Nine facilities named in the decision are Bluewater, Brookside, Cecil Facer, Donald Doucet, Invictus, Justice Ronald Lester, Roy McMurtry, Sprucedale and the Toronto Youth Assessment Centre.

Read more: Lawsuit over youth placed in solitary confinement in Ontario allowed to proceed