London, Ontario, Dec. 01, 2017 - Two class actions concerning the conditions at
London's Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre ("EMDC") will receive national primetime
coverage on CBC's Fifth Estate later this week. The episode will air Friday, December
1, 2017 at 9:00 pm. It will air again on the CBC Newsworld channel on Saturday and
Sunday, December 2 and 3, 2017, and will also be available for viewing on CBC's
The first EMDC class action, Johnson v Ontario, was certified by the Honourable
Justice Grace of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on August 23, 2016. It was
the first class action in Ontario with respect to conditions in a jail. The second
EMDC class action, Hayne v Ontario, was certified by the Honourable Justice Grace
on consent on May 18, 2017.
Together, the two EMDC class actions have over 13,000 class members – all persons
incarcerated at EMDC between January 1, 2010 to May 18, 2017, including those in
custody at EMDC while awaiting trial or another court appearance. They allege that
EMDC is overcrowded and fraught with violence, and that the conditions there violate
sections 7 and 12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Kevin Egan, a partner with McKenzie Lake Lawyers LLP, started the first EMDC class
action in December 2013. He is assisted by members of McKenzie Lake's highly experienced
class actions team: Mike Peerless, Matt Baer, Bill Jenkins, and Chelsea Smith.
Earlier this week, the team of five lawyers, along with Koskie Minsky LLP and Champ
and Associates, was successful in certifying a third detention centre class action,
this time concerning staffing-related lockdowns in Ontario provincial correctional
institutions. That class action, Lapple v Ontario, was certified by the Honourable
Justice Glustein of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on November 27, 2017 on
consent. It alleges that inmates in Ontario's provincial correctional institutions
suffered physical and psychological harm as a result of extended and common lockdowns
resulting from province-wide understaffing.
Kevin Egan stated, "If we, as a society, intend our justice system to achieve its
stated goals of deterrence and rehabilitation, we must ensure that our jails support
those objectives. Jails must not be mere human warehouses or schools of crime where
inmates learn to disdain the law. They must be places where basic human dignity,
respect and opportunities to improve abound. The present system is a failure. We
are hopeful that these class actions will awaken the authorities and prompt positive
change, which, ultimately, will benefit us all."