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Ontario Investing in Corrections in the North

THUNDER BAY — The Ontario government is transforming corrections in the North by investing $1.2 billion to build a new state-of-the-art Thunder Bay Correctional Complex, $96 million for expansion projects at the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre and Kenora Jail, and up to $5 million for a new Northern Attraction Incentive Program pilot to attract and retain corrections staff in the North.

“Together, our government’s landmark infrastructure investment and new hiring program will create and support hundreds of jobs in Thunder Bay, Kenora and surrounding regions,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “We are making exciting progress on building a modern correctional system that supports public safety, meets the care and programming needs of those in custody, and ensures healthy and well-resourced work environments for our frontline corrections staff to do their jobs safely.”

EllisDon Infrastructure Justice has been awarded the contract to design, build, finance, and maintain the new Thunder Bay Correctional Complex project. The 345-bed multi-purpose facility will replace the outdated existing jail and correctional centre in Thunder Bay and provide:

  • Behavioural and mental health housing options
  • Improved programming and health care services in units
  • Better access to natural light and outdoor spaces.

Construction of the new Thunder Bay Correctional Complex is expected to start this fall and be completed by fall 2026.

In addition, Bird Construction Inc. is scheduled to complete infrastructure expansion projects at the existing Thunder Bay Correctional Centre and Kenora Jail in late summer 2022. Built rapidly using innovative modular construction, these expansions will add beds to alleviate capacity pressures and create more space for effective programming such as literacy and skills development that support safe community reintegration. The Thunder Bay build will eventually be connected to the new Thunder Bay Correctional Complex.

“Infrastructure projects like the Thunder Bay Correctional Complex are essential to our communities,” said Kinga Surma, Minister of Infrastructure. “This investment will ensure staff and frontline workers have access to a more modern and safe space, while also creating hundreds of new jobs and boosting the local economy. Through these types of projects, our government is keeping Ontario’s communities healthy and safe, while protecting our economy and creating a stronger Ontario for generations to come.”

The province is also investing in the new Northern Attraction Incentive Program pilot to help recruit and retain critical frontline corrections staff. The program will provide between $4,000 and $15,000 in onboarding supports for new candidates working at select adult institutions. Existing and new employees who transfer to select locations, can also claim relocation expenses of up to $5,000 per year for up to three years for service at specific probation and parole offices and correctional facilities in the North. The program will begin rolling out April 27, 2022.

“This major investment will fund a modern and secure corrections complex in Thunder Bay as well as a significant expansion of the Kenora Jail to add more capacity and improved rehabilitative services,” said Greg Rickford, Member of Provincial Parliament for Kenora-Rainy River. “These projects will benefit our communities not only by creating better correctional facilities but by creating hundreds of good-paying jobs in construction and frontline correctional services while boosting our local economy.”

These projects build on the government’s strategy to invest more than $500 million over five years to transform correctional services through new hiring and infrastructure improvements.


Quick Facts

  • EllisDon Infrastructure Justice was selected as the successful proponent for the Thunder Bay Correctional Complex project after extensive evaluations following an open, fair and competitive request for proposals process that began in March 2021.
  • The existing Thunder Bay Jail and Correctional Centre are among the oldest provincially-run adult correctional facilities in Ontario. The Thunder Bay Jail opened in 1928. The Thunder Bay Correctional Centre opened in 1965; however, the original building structure which operated as a prison farm opened in 1911.
  • Frontline staff and Indigenous leaders will have input on the design of the Thunder Bay Correctional Complex. Information sessions will be held with the public, local municipal partners and key stakeholders to provide project updates during the construction phase planned to commence in fall 2022.
  • The expansion projects in Thunder Bay and Kenora are being delivered using Infrastructure Ontario’s rapid delivery approach, which aims to deliver projects more efficiently using rapid procurement processes and construction methods.
  • Correctional facilities and probation and parole offices (P&P) offices currently being prioritized for the Northern Attraction Incentive Program pilot are: Kenora Jail; Fort Frances Jail; Monteith Correctional Complex; Thunder Bay Correctional Centre; Thunder Bay Jail; Marathon P&P; Geraldton P&P; Moosonee P&P; Kenora P&P; Sioux Lookout P&P; Dryden P&P; Red Lake P&P; and Fort Frances P&P.
  • Eligible positions for Northern Attraction Incentive Program pilot include correctional officers, sergeants and staff sergeants, health care managers, nurses, social workers, probation and parole officers, and corrections and probation administrative assistants.

Quotes

“A new correctional facility for Thunder Bay is a very important investment to enhance the facility’s living conditions, security, technology, and space. We are honoured to be selected to design, build, finance and maintain the new Thunder Bay Correctional Complex project.”

– Joey Comeau
Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, Capital, EllisDon

“Bird is proud to play a part in the important infrastructure developments in Northern Ontario and work with communities to enable rapid delivery solutions through the unique value offering of Bird and our partnership with Stack Modular.”

– Teri McKibbon
President and CEO of Bird Construction

“The new Thunder Bay Correctional Complex and expansion builds in Thunder Bay and Kenora will provide significant health and safety improvements for staff and inmates. These infrastructure improvements are essential for our staff to provide safe and modern care to the inmate population. We are pleased the Ontario government is following through with commitments to modernize these Northern facilities. This is great news for our staff and the communities as a whole in the Northern Region.”

– Chad Oldfield
Co-Chair of the OPSEU Corrections Ministry Employment Relations Committee


Additional Resources