Ministry of the Solicitor General (Ontario)

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Ministry of the Solicitor General
Ministère du Solliciteur général (French)
Government ministry overview
JurisdictionGovernment of Ontario
Headquarters18th Floor, 25 Grosvenor Street, Toronto, Ontario
Minister responsible

The Ministry of the Solicitor General (French: Ministère du Solliciteur général; formerly known as the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services) is the ministry in the Government of Ontario responsible for public security, law enforcement and policing, emergency management, correctional and detention centres/jails and organizations such as the Ontario Provincial Police, Emergency Management Ontario, and the Office of the Fire Marshal.

The minister responsible is Michael Kerzner, Solicitor General of Ontario.


Law Enforcement and Public Safety[edit]

Prior to 1972, the Attorney General and the Department of Justice had carriage of the responsibility for policing and public safety in the province.

The Ministry of the Solicitor General was established in 1972. Although there was no solicitor general of Ontario prior to 1972, one did exist for both the Province of Upper Canada (1791–1840) and the Province of Canada (1841–1867). With the re-organization of the Government of Ontario in 1972, however, this long-dormant office was re-established.

Correctional Services[edit]

The Board of Inspectors of Asylums and Prisons, first appointed in 1859, was charged with general superintendence of the United Provinces' (i.e. Canada East/Quebec and Canada West/Ontario) 61 public institutions. These included 52 common gaols, the largest single type of institution, 4 lunatic asylums, 2 hospitals, 2 reformatory prisons, and one large penitentiary. Five inspectors were appointed and each one assigned an inspection district.

After Confederation, the Prisons and Asylums Inspection Act was passed on March 4, 1868. It vested control of all the above types of institutions located in Ontario, 49 in total, in the Office of the Inspector of Prisons and Asylums in the Department of the Provincial Secretary. On June 20, 1868, J.W. Langmuir was appointed first incumbent of the office.

In 1876, this office was renamed the Office of the Inspector of Prisons and Public Charities, and it became part of the Treasury Department. It was reverted to the Department of the Provincial Secretary in 1883. In addition to prisons, the office was also responsible for the superintendence of various public institutions that served social service functions, such as orphanages, houses of refuge, asylums for the insane, and hospitals. By 1925, the Inspector and his staff were responsible for superintending 380 institutions. Between 1927 and 1934, the provincial government gradually reduced the inspectorial functions and reassigned them to more specialized departments. For example, administration of charitable institutions was transferred to the newly created Department of Public Welfare in September 1930, and the responsibility for hospitals and sanatoria was transferred to the Department of Health in October 1930.

In 1934, the former Inspection Branch of the Provincial Secretary's Department became the Reformatory and Prisons Branch, the only Branch from the former inspectorate to remain in the Provincial Secretary's Department.

In 1946, the branch was elevated to department status, becoming the Department of Reform Institutions in the cabinet of Premier George Drew. The first minister was George Dunbar, whose first act was to create six work farms around the province.[1] In the following decade, the development of its administrative structure reflected the evolution from punitive custody to correctional services. In 1954, a director of rehabilitation, chief parole and rehabilitation officer, and a chief psychologist were added, followed by a director of neurology and psychiatry in 1955. Other offices and services created within the department included the director of social work and the chaplaincy services.

On July 1, 1968, the department was renamed the Department of Correctional Services. The first minister was Allan Grossman, who said the change was made to update the service to reflect changes in attitudes to penal institutions. Prison guards were issued new uniforms that removed aspects of militarism from their appearance.[2]

With the April 1972 reorganization of the Ontario government, the Department of Correctional Services was renamed the Ministry of Correctional Services. It took over the responsibility for probation services in 1972 from the Ministry of the Attorney General. In 1977, the Children's Services Division was transferred to the Ministry of Community and Social Services. In 1984, with the passage of the federal Young Offenders Act, the ministry assumed responsibility for detention and parole of young offenders aged 16 and 17.

Merger of the two functions[edit]

The Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services was formed on February 3, 1993, from the merger of the Ministry of the Solicitor General with the Ministry of Correctional Services. The two functions were separated again between 1999 and 2002.

In April 2002, the two functions merged again, and the newly created ministry was renamed as the Ministry of Public Safety and Security. This was done in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks. The new ministry encompassed correctional services as well as a new emphasis on border security.[3] In 2003, the ministry was renamed to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. In April 2019, the solicitor general role was re-introduced, and the ministry's name was reverted to the Ministry of the Solicitor General.[4]

Security guard and private investigator licensing[edit]

In 2010, the ministry began to administer tests for new applicants and existing security guard or private investigator cardholders. Prior to 2010, any individual (as long as they were free, or pardoned, of a criminal charge) could obtain one or both licences just by paying 80 dollars for each. The new requirements came after a coroner's inquest into the death of Patrick Shand, who died from asphyxiation while in the custody of an untrained private security guard and staff at a Loblaws store in Scarborough. Despite the store chain's policy of prohibiting use of force against shoplifters, Shand was restrained and handcuffed. Shand remained handcuffed when staff had to perform CPR after the former went into respiratory arrest. The handcuffs were not removed until Shand was placed in an ambulance 18 minutes after the 911 call was made.[5]

In response to the inquest's recommendations, applicants for security guard or private investigator licences must pass a 40-hour training course before writing a test. 62.5% is a passing grade for security guards and 77% for private investigators.[citation needed]

List of Ministers[edit]

The position of Solicitor-General dates back to the foundation of Upper Canada, and also Canada West in the Province of Ontario, the predecessors to the current province of Ontario.

Solicitors-General of Upper Canada[edit]

Solicitors-General of Canada West[edit]

Solicitors-General of Ontario[edit]

Name Term of office Name Term of office Political party
Ministers of Reform Institutions (Public safety/policing was part of the portfolio of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice prior to 1972.) PC
George Dunbar 15 April 1946 19 October 1948
19 October 1948 4 May 1949 PC
4 May 1949 15 July 1949 PC
William Hamilton 15 July 1949 16 November 1950
John Foote 16 November 1950 18 July 1957
Matthew Dymond 18 July 1957 28 April 1958
Ray Connell 28 April 1958 22 December 1958
George Wardrope 22 December 1958 8 November 1961
Irwin Haskett 8 November 1961 14 August 1963 PC
Allan Grossman 14 August 1963 1 July 1968
Minister of Correctional Services
Allan Grossman 1 July 1968 1 March 1971
Syl Apps 1 March 1971 26 February 1974 Solicitor General PC
John Yaremko 7 April 1972 26 February 1974
Richard Potter 26 February 1974 7 October 1975 George Albert Kerr 26 February 1974 18 June 1975 Kerr resigned pending investigation of bribery allegation. Kerr later returned to cabinet as the investigation found no grounds to warrant charges.
John Clement (interim) 18 June 1975 7 October 1975
John Smith 7 October 1975 3 February 1977 John Palmer MacBeth 7 October 1975 21 January 1978 MacBeth concurrently served as Provincial Secretary for Justice (October 7, 1975 – January 21, 1978) while being Solicitor General.
Arthur Meen 3 February 1977 23 June 1977
John MacBeth (interim) 23 June 1977 21 September 1977
Frank Drea 21 September 1977 18 October 1978
George Albert Kerr 21 January 1978 11 September 1978 Kerr concurrently served as Provincial Secretary for Justice.
Roy McMurtry 11 June 1978 13 February 1982 McMurtry concurrently served as Attorney General.
Gordon Walker 18 October 1978 10 April 1981 Walker concurrently served as Provincial Secretary for Justice (August 30, 1979 – February 13, 1982)
Nick Leluk 10 April 1981 8 February 1985
George William Taylor 13 February 1982 8 February 1985
8 February 1985 1 May 1985 John Reesor Williams 8 February 1985 17 May 1985 PC
Don Cousens 17 May 1985 26 June 1985 Bud Gregory 17 May 1985 26 June 1985
Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services Liberal
Ken Keyes 26 June 1985 3 December 1986 Keyes stepped down as Solicitor General during investigation of an instance of him sharing an alcoholic drink with police officers on a police boat.
Minister of Correctional Services Solicitor General
Ken Keyes 3 December 1986 9 January 1987 Ian Scott (interim) 3 February 1986 9 January 1987
Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services
Ken Keyes 9 January 1987 29 September 1987
Minister of Correctional Services Solicitor General
David Ramsay 29 September 1987 2 August 1989 Joan Smith 29 September 1987 6 June 1989 Smith resigned due to allegation of improper contact to the police while Solicitor General.
Richard Patten 2 August 1989 1 October 1990 Ian Scott (interim) 6 June 1989 2 August 1989
Steven Offer 2 August 1989 1 October 1990
Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services NDP
Mike Farnan 1 October 1990 31 July 1991
Allan Pilkey 31 July 1991 23 September 1992
Minister of Correctional Services Solicitor General
David Christopherson 23 September 1992 3 February 1993 Allan Pilkey 23 September 1992 3 February 1993
Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services
David Christopherson 3 February 1993 26 June 1995
Bob Runciman 26 June 1995 27 April 1998 PC
Runciman resigned for ministerial responsibility after a young offender's name was inappropriately revealed in the Speech from the Throne.
Jim Flaherty (interim) 27 April 1998 27 July 1998
Bob Runciman 27 July 1998 17 June 1999
Minister of Correctional Services Solicitor General
Rob Sampson 17 June 1999 4 December 2000 David Tsubouchi 17 June 1999 8 February 2001 Sampson resigned for ministerial responsibility after a government backbencher improperly revealed names of several young offenders in the legislature.
Norm Sterling (interim) 5 December 2000 8 March 2001
Rob Sampson 8 March 2001 14 April 2002 David Turnbull 8 February 2001 14 April 2002
Minister of Public Safety and Security PC
Bob Runciman 15 April 2002 22 October 2003
Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Liberal
Monte Kwinter 23 October 2003 30 October 2007
Rick Bartolucci 30 October 2007 18 August 2010
Jim Bradley 18 August 2010 20 October 2011
Madeleine Meilleur 20 October 2011 11 February 2013
11 February 2013 25 March 2014 Liberal
Yasir Naqvi 25 March 2014 13 June 2016
David Orazietti 13 June 2016 16 December 2016
Kevin Flynn (acting) 16 December 2016 12 January 2017
Marie-France Lalonde 12 January 2017 29 June 2018
Michael Tibollo 29 June 2018 5 November 2018 PC
Sylvia Jones 5 November 2018 4 April 2019
Solicitor General
Sylvia Jones 4 April 2019 24 June 2022
Michael Kerzner 24 June 2022 Present

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Important Cabinet Changes". The Globe and Mail. April 16, 1946. p. 6.
  2. ^ "Guards to get new uniforms with new image". The Globe and Mail. May 30, 1968. p. 35.
  3. ^ "New ministry to oversee public security". The Kitchener Record. April 16, 2002. p. A4.
  4. ^ "Statement by Premier Doug Ford as Minister Sylvia Jones is Sworn in as the Solicitor General", Ontario Newsroom, April 4, 2019
  5. ^ Man died from accidental suffocation during arrest: inquest, CBC News, April 23, 2004
  6. ^ Burns, Robert J. (1983). "Gray, Robert Isaac Dey". In Halpenny, Francess G (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. V (1801–1820) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  7. ^ Lownsbrough, John (1987). "Boulton, D'Arcy (1759-1834)". In Halpenny, Francess G (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. VI (1821–1835) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  8. ^ J.O. Côté Political Appointments and Elections in the Province of Canada, 2nd ed. (Ottawa: G.E. Desbarats, 1866) p. 6.

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