The MCSCS community
The MCSCS community
The diverse staff of MCSCS serve Ontarians in their workplaces and in their communities.
We will use this space to tell their stories and how we all benefit from their commitment, compassion and professionalism. We will also highlight key achievements and initiatives in fostering stronger, safer communities across the province.
2017 Correctional Services Awards
On September 20, 2017, Correctional Services staff were honoured for their outstanding contributions to helping keep Ontarians safe. In the majestic Great Hall of the University of Toronto’s Hart House, 33 correctional workers and volunteers received citations at the Correctional Services Awards Ceremony. It was the first time the awards were presented in a single ceremony and the first time a member of correctional services received a Premier’s Award, which was presented by Premier Kathleen Wynne to Linda Ogilvie.
As a corporate health care manager in the ministry’s corrections programs branch, Linda’s nursing background has helped meet the health care needs of custodial clients and deliver effective health care services in an institutional setting. Linda was instrumental in leading the implementation of the Ontario Telemedicine Network, which has delivered telemedicine services to correctional facilities across the province. This service has resulted in reduced wait times, costs and safety risks associated with community escorts.
After presenting the award, Premier Wynne invited Linda to say a few words. “I am overwhelmed,” said Ogilvie. “This award is not really mine alone as I wouldn’t be here without the expertise, insight, hard work and sacrifice of the people I work with and for.”
Marie-France Lalonde, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, presented Minister’s Awards for bravery, humanitarian service, volunteer service and two special recognition awards. One of the highlights was the presentation to the Thunder Bay Institutional Crisis Intervention Team for their brave and skilled handling of a serious incident at the Thunder Bay Jail. In addition to the team award, Correctional Officer Bill Hayes was cited for his bravery during the incident and two Special Recognition awards were given to Sergeant Neil MacDonald and Correctional Officer Joseph Lozer for their pivotal roles in helping bring the crisis to a successful conclusion.
“We are very honoured to be receiving this award and very humbled by the acknowledgment,” said Correctional Officer Warren Giertuga, speaking on behalf of the team. “This event brought us closer together as a unit and served as a huge learning experience. It made us better prepared for potential future incidents.”
Marg Welch, Associate Deputy Minister of Correctional Services, presented the Viola Desmond Deputy Minister’s Awards. Superintendent Jennifer Alphonso and Program Advisor Richard Pierre (retired) were honoured for achievements in diversity and inclusion. For over 30 years, Jennifer Alphonso contributed to programs and services that supported diversity and inclusion. She said, “To be recognized as a recipient of the Viola Desmond Award – named for a woman who exhibited courage and strength for human rights – I am speechless. I am grateful to the women in corrections who nominated me. I didn’t realize they saw a Viola in me.”
Similarly, Richard Pierre’s distinguished 35-year career was recognized for consistently encouraging and supporting under-represented employees and clients, especially Indigenous peoples. “I am honoured and thrilled to have been selected for this award. If I could give one parting piece of advice, it would be that it takes a very long time to effect real change. If you think something needs to be changed; then change it. Do not wait for others to do it for you.”
The following is the full list 2017 Correctional Services Awards recipients:
Correctional Services Premier’s Award
- Manager Linda Ogilvie, Corporate Health Care
Viola Desmond Deputy Minister’s Award
- Superintendent Jennifer Alphonso, Women’s Secure Treatment Unit
- Program Advisor Richard Pierre (retired), Operational Support
Correctional Services Minister’s Award for Bravery
- Correctional Officer Bill Hayes, Thunder Bay Jail
- Thunder Bay Institutional Crisis Intervention Team – Correctional Officers Shawn Bradshaw, Mike Bilokryli, Dan Boychuk, Shane Fillier, Scott Giertuga, Warren Giertuga, Bill Hayes, Raffaeli Tassone, Scott Wark and Provincial Bailiff Chris Smagac
Correctional Services Award, Special Recognition
- Sergeant Neil MacDonald and Correctional Officer Joseph Lozer, Thunder Bay Jail
Correctional Services Minister’s Award for Humanitarian Service
- Correctional Officer Rocky Newton, Niagara Detention Centre
- Correctional Officer Patrick Sproat, Niagara Detention Centre
- Central Region Probation and Parole Employment Connections Committee – Area Manager Andrew Burston, Area Manager Jesse Andrews (retired), Probation and Parole Officers Tamika Charles, Kiesha James, Angelo Vella, Jaime Carrington, Liron Sondak, Susanne Narciso, Laura Klaehn, Suluxan Paramaguru, Raman Bassan, Natalie Beckford and Pavithra Sritharan.
Correctional Services Minister’s Award for Volunteer Service
- Reverend Grace Adams, volunteer, Central North Correctional Centre
- Correctional Officer Warren Giertuga, Thunder Bay Correctional Centre
- Ruth McLellan, volunteer, Algoma Treatment and Remand Centre
Colour Guard: The Correctional Services Colour Guard begin the proceedings at the awards ceremony.
Premier’s Award: Premier Kathleen Wynne presented the inaugural Correctional Services Premier’s Award to Linda Ogilvie.
Minister’s Award - Bravery: MCSCS Minister Marie-France Lalonde and Associate Deputy Minister Marg Welch join the Thunder Bay Institutional Crisis Intervention Team after receiving the Minister’s Award for Bravery. In addition, Correctional Officer Bill Hayes received an individual Minister’s Award for Bravery and Sergeant Neil MacDonald and Correctional Officer Joseph Lozer (not pictured) received Special Recognition Awards for the same incident.
Viola Desmond Deputy Minister’s Award: (L to R) Assistant Deputy Minister - Institutional Services Christina Danylchenko, MCSCS Minister Marie-France Lalonde, Program Advisor and Viola Desmond Award recipient Richard Pierre, Associate Deputy Minister Marg Welch, and Elder Bruce Elijah following Pierre’s award presentation.
2017 Recipients: Minister Lalonde, Associate Deputy Minister Welch and Elder Bruce Elijah with the 2017 Correctional Services Awards recipients.
Humanitarianism comes full circle for probation and parole officer
Forty-two years ago, a Canadian immigration officer approved the application of an Armenian family seeking a fresh start in Canada. With the stroke of a pen, the lives of Maida Icliates and her family changed forever. Now, she has set the wheels in motion to assist other families escaping war-torn Syria.
Maida has never lost her gratitude for a life in Canada. “I will always be thankful to the immigration officer who approved our case so I could live in one of the best countries in the world and become an Ontario probation and parole officer.” Her gratitude turned into passionate action when Maida founded the Armenian Family Support Services (AFSS) of Holy Trinity Armenian Church in 2004. The organization is designed to close the gap between available social services and those being accessed by Armenian Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area.
As a member of AFSS’s Refugee and Sponsorship committee, Maida interviews and approves applicants wishing to sponsor families from Syria before submitting each case for approval. “When I signed off on our first application, I was overcome with emotion as it was my signature that would now forever change a desperate family. As I mailed the application, I was transported back to 1974 and realized that life had truly come full circle.”
When the first flight touched down in Toronto last December, Maida and her colleagues were at the hotel to greet the newcomers. “There were a lot of tears. They were overwhelmed with happiness and were thankful for a life of hope and promise.”
Above: Community Support Circle: AFSS Board members Houry Aznavourian (L) and Maida Icliates (R), lead the Community Support Circle for Syrian-Armenian refugees in both English and Armenian.
AFSS has been working hard to submit as many applications as possible while continuing to greet those who arrive. “My Christmas holiday was filled with airport arrivals, hotel runs and furniture and food deliveries. It was exhausting but we prevailed.”
In January, AFSS organized two refugee job fairs in collaboration with the Armenian Community Centre. In March, they partnered with the YMCA Newcomer Information Centre to facilitate a career needs-assessment and resume-writing workshop. In April, the Community Support Circle was launched, a bi-weekly support group for sharing challenges and learning about life in Toronto. Guest speakers discuss various community resources, depending on the week’s theme.
One man’s story is typical of these successful sponsorships. Last August, AFSS presented cases of vulnerable Syrian Armenians who don’t have sponsors to a national teleconference with Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH). The Kingston Anglican Church agreed to several sponsorships. This man had contacted AFSS via Facebook for help as his life as a hairdresser and university student studying Hotel Management was extremely dangerous. Extremists in the Syrian conflict harassed and threatened him for touching women’s hair. They warned they would chop off his hands. His alarmed parents sent him to Lebanon, where he barely subsisted on cleaning buildings and fixing wigs for cancer patients.
AFSS hastily prepared documentation for the Kingston SAH. When Maida told him the church would sponsor him, he said, “This is unbelievable. It’s like a dream come true.”
Above: AFSS Hospitality: (L to R) Maida Icliates, Mariam Aramyan and Sareen Khatchadourian, AFSS members, host a hospitality table for the Syrian newcomers.
Today, he is safe and believes in his new life. He refers to his sponsors as ‘tantik’, meaning ‘aunt’ in Armenian, as they are like family. Several weeks after arriving, he was hired as an apprentice hairdresser at a reputable salon.
His story is just one of many successes. The AFSS will continue their work to help refugees live safe, happy lives with dignity. Thank you, Maida, for your dedication to humanitarian work.
2016 Correctional Services Ceremony of Remembrance
Strengthening Ontario’s death investigation system, one recommendation at a time
On December 16, Ontario’s Death Investigation Oversight Council (DIOC) celebrates its fifth anniversary – five years of hard work to make Ontario’s death investigation system more transparent and accountable and to help families who have tragically lost a loved one find answers.
DIOC was established in response to the Goudge Inquiry, which made a number of recommendations that focused on strengthening and modernizing Ontario’s death investigation system, including the need for a governing council to provide oversight. DIOC now provides oversight of Ontario’s coroners and forensic pathologists by administering a public complaints process and making recommendations to increase transparency and better meet the diverse needs of Ontarians.
The council is made up of 14 medical and legal professionals, senior health executives, government representatives and members of the public, including The Honourable Joseph James, DIOC’s Chair. With an accomplished career as a former criminal lawyer, Crown attorney and judge, he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. Of his experience in working directly with council members to improve services for Ontarians, he says, “Reaching consensus amongst a group of people who are experts in such a wide variety of fields is challenging at times, but it’s also exciting to work with such highly skilled and passionate individuals who are intensely interested in our shared agenda. They want Ontarians to have the best death investigation services in the world and they are determined to achieve it.”
The DIOC represents the public, and as such, the views of the public and their need to understand the death investigation system, are at the heart of everything they do. Unless you work in the field, or have had a loved one pass in an unexplained or unexpected manner, chances are you aren’t very familiar with how or why death investigations are carried out. The creation of a new public complaints process has been one of DIOC’s biggest accomplishments to date. Concerns expressed by the public are sometimes indicative of the need for greater transparency about the death investigation process and the roles played by different individuals within that process. People now have the option to file a formal complaint to an independent body with the opportunity for a face-to-face meeting where their concerns can be better addressed.
Emily Musing, DIOC member and Executive Director and Patient Safety Officer at the University Health Network explains what having a transparent, accessible and responsive complaints process means for Ontarians: “At the point that a member of the public interacts with the death investigation system, they are already under stress because of a death. During this time of vulnerability, they need to have confidence that Ontario’s death investigation system will efficiently and effectively investigate the death and provide findings to the appropriate bodies, as well as to the family as required.”
Over the past five years, DIOC has made a number of recommendations to government, all geared towards improving the overall death investigation system.
One key recommendation included appointing forensic pathologists as coroners in all cases of suspected or suspicious death or homicide. This recommendation ensures the most accredited skills are applied in the most critical death investigations. It also establishes an integrated and inclusive service to the criminal justice system by aligning accountability for certification with the provision of expert testimony in court. According to Dr. Michael Pollanen, Ontario’s Chief Forensic Pathologist, “The insight and expertise offered by the DIOC has enabled us to adopt new ways of delivering service in Ontario. This recommendation is one example of how it has contributed to making Ontario’s death investigation system more responsive to the diverse needs of the province.”
DIOC, along with key partners at the Office of the Chief Coroner (OCC) and Ontario Forensic Pathology Services (OFPS) have implemented this recommendation which is currently being piloted in Toronto.
Justice James says that the acceptance and implementation of many of DIOC’s recommendations is the accomplishment of which he is most proud. He attributes the achievement to the council’s goal to “make simple, to-the-point recommendations that just made sense. We wanted to make sure they were practical, workable, accountable and measurable,” he says.
As a result, Ontario’s death investigation system is more responsive to the needs of families, which has a lot to do with the leadership in both the OCC and OFPS. Ontario’s Chief Coroner, Dr. Dirk Huyer recognizes that “DIOC is a valuable source of advice and feedback to us, especially in supporting our efforts to improve communication with families.” Ontarians are benefitting from a system that recognizes that families have a right to information concerning their loved ones and the organization itself is better equipped to provide people the answers they need to help them cope with their loss.
Justice James, along with other council members, recognize that the strides that have been made over the last five years would not have been possible without the support of its Secretariat, along with MCSCS staff who have engaged with DIOC on a regular basis, provided incredible amounts of information, offered valuable feedback, and implemented the final recommendations. “All within stressful time constraints and with the utmost professionalism and good cheer!” he says.
Congratulations to DIOC and its Secretariat: you are supporting Ontarians during the times when they need it most.
DIOC is supported by its Secretariat, including some of these staff members pictured here at the event on December 8: (L to R) Stephanie Romain, Administrative Assistant; Sienna Leung, Policy Analyst; Danielle Hryniewicz, Senior Policy Advisor; Lema Salaymeh, former Policy Analyst
Many were in attendance to celebrate DIOC’s successes over the past five years including (Back row) Brian Loewen, Director, Legal and Dr. Reuven Jhirad, Deputy Chief Coroner and (Front Row) Minister Meilleur, Dr. Fiona Smaill, DIOC Member, Denise St-Jean, DIOC Member, Shane Gonsalves, Chief of Staff to Minister Meilleur and Dr. Dirk Huyer, Chief Coroner
Minister Naqvi mingles with guests at the fifth anniversary celebration on December 8, 2015.
Attorney General and former Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Madeleine Meilleur says a few congratulatory words at the event.
DIOC Chair, the Honourable Joseph James, thanks DIOC members and OPS staff for their hard work and dedication over the last five years.