Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services

Office Snapshot

  • Location: Toronto
  • Lawyers: 29
  • Articling Students:3
  • Summer Law Students: 3
  • Types of Law: Aboriginal, Access & Privacy, Administrative, Commercial, Contract, Corrections, Criminal, Employment, Human Rights, Labour, Policing, Public Safety

Who we are

Counsel working with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) Legal Services Branch (LSB) provide a full range of legal services in the following areas:

  • Policing
  • Firearms
  • Private investigators and security guards
  • Emergency measures
  • Fire services
  • Coroners
  • Human rights
  • Animal welfare
  • Corrections
  • Probation and parole
  • Freedom of information and protection of privacy. 

Our legal branch provides strategic legal advice and assistance to two deputy ministers, all MCSCS divisions and its six agencies.  The ministry employs approximately 15,500 police, corrections, probation and parole officers, medical, forensic and fire professionals, emergency management officers, and civilian and administrative staff who serve communities and regions throughout Ontario. Corrections and policing operate 24/7 throughout the province.

What we do

MCSCS LSB counsel participate in the development of legislation and regulations, prepare and review a wide variety of contracts and other legal documents, and provide legal opinions and advice for their diverse client base. Our counsel represent client interests at court hearings in both civil and criminal jurisdictions, administrative proceedings and coroner’s inquests.

The branch also acts as counsel to the following tribunals:

  • Ontario Parole and Earned Release Board
  • Animal Care Review Board
  • Fire Safety Commission.

In addition, we provide legal advice to the following tribunals:

  • Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services
  • Ontario Police Arbitration Commission
  • Fire Marshal’s Public Fire Safety Council.

Our major cases

  • Provincial Animal Welfare Act:  We engaged in extensive reformation of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (OSPCA Act), resulting in the Provincial Animal Welfare (PAWS) Act amendments effective March 1, 2009.
  • Cornwall Public Inquiry: We worked in collaboration with Crown Law Office-Civil (CLOC) on actions relating to claims arising from the Cornwall public inquiry, and other matters relating to policing, fire and correctional issues.
  • Goodwin/Wesley Inquest: As one of the parties with standing, we represented the interests of the Ministry. The inquest into the deaths of two aboriginal men in the Kashechewan reservation jail began on March 23, 2009. It focused on examining the circumstances surrounding the deaths including the cause of the fire, fire suppression efforts, the training of First Nation police officers, the funding of policing infrastructure on reserve and the lack of legislative framework for policing arrangements on reserve.
  • Sunrise Propane Explosion: Working in collaboration with CLOC, we played a key role for the ministry in support of the CLOC litigation team in responding to the class action arising from Sunrise Propane, ensuring the appropriate response was made to the plaintiffs’ requests for documentation and other relief.    
  • Toronto South Detention Centre: MCSCS Contracts and Procurement Group counsel are on the ministry’s first “design-build-finance-and-maintain” contract through Infrastructure Ontario. Construction is estimated to begin in 2010.

What students do

Our students will have the opportunity to work directly with a number of counsel at the branch. Under the supervision and guidance of a principal or mentor, students:

  • Assist counsel with drafting pleadings for the court
  • Prepare responses to human rights complaints
  • Get exposure to various aspects of the legislative process
  • Aid in the production of memoranda of law on a number of topics.

In terms of litigation, students may attend Small Claims Court matters and assist counsel in preparing for inquests, habeas corpus applications, motions, Human Rights proceedings and Animal Care Review Board Hearings.

Why choose us

"My experiences as an articling student at MCSCS Legal Services Branch was excellent. The work I was assigned was varied and challenging and I got to work with lawyers who have a range of interests and styles of practice, all of whom made themselves available to answer any questions I had and always made me feel welcome to attend court or meetings with them. I believe that my experience at MCSCS Legal has prepared me to take the next steps into legal practice." — Former Articling Student

MCSCS LSB is an excellent place for students who want to be exposed to a wide variety of legal issues. We provide a unique opportunity to work in a relatively small legal branch with a disproportionately great variety of work. It is a particularly great place for students with an interest in administrative and regulatory law.

MCSCS LSB has a remarkable group of alumni, including:

  • The Honourable Madame Justice Denise Bellamy: Currently the presiding commissioner of the city of Toronto's External Contracts Inquiry and Computer Leasing Inquiry, both of which are investigating scandals around bureaucratic and political interference in the city's contract process.
  • Paul Ceyssens: Now in private practice, Mr. Ceyssens is recognized as a Canadian authority on the legal regulation of police. Author of Legal Aspects of Policing (1994), and co-author of Ontario Police Services Act, Fully Annotated (1998), Mr. Ceyssens also chairs the editorial board for the Police Law Reports.
  • Christina Donszelmann: Presently MCSCS Senior Counsel at our Toronto office, Christina is a leader on human rights, administrative and employment law. She is co-author of Law of Administrative Investigations and Prosecutions, Canada Law Book (1999).
  • Kenneth Hogg & Brian G. Whitehead: Presently counsel with MCSCS. Senior counsel, Ken Hogg, works from our Orillia office, located at the OPP headquarters, and counsel, Brian Whitehead, works from our Toronto Office. They co-authored the Guide to Ontario’s Ministry of Correctional Services Act, (2006).

Contact us

Bushra Munawar

Samantha (Sam) Wilson
Administrative Coordinator (A)