Who We Are

Strengthening Member Agencies. Developing Partnerships. Building Safer Communities.

Youth Justice Ontario is an association representing over 40 agencies province wide that provide services to youth involved in the youth justice system. The agencies that we are comprised of provide a wide spectrum of multi-faceted services which range from prevention and early intervention programs, to custody and community aftercare.

We Believe

Youth Justice Ontario believes that rehabilitation and change is key for the future of youth and their communities. There has been much research done on the area of youth crime and recidivism, resulting in therapeutic relationships being an essential component in providing a catalyst for change.

Youth Justice Ontario believes an effective program delivered by well trained professional staff is the fiscally responsible manner in which to deal with the often complex issue of youth crime, which in turn requires complex solutions. Being a provincial association gives us the understanding of the broader perspective as well as the need and necessity to provide local solutions to local problems.

We believe the professional human services staff we employ provide the key to cost effective rehabilitation of youth. Our agencies are, more often than not, the “safety net” for some of the highest risk youth in the province. While providing community safety, we are often also the only advocate for these high risk youth.

Bridging Government & Communities

The wealth of expertise and experience in providing these services is invaluable in affecting positive change. We have historically worked in collaboration with the government of the day, and will continue to work at building new linkages that ensure we can continue to be responsive to the systemic needs of today.

We respect and value the need to work cooperatively with the government and our local communities. As an active and productive partner with the government, we can assist in educating our clients and keeping our communities informed. Youth Justice Ontario believes in solution based outcomes. We are confident our active participation on youth justice issues would assist the government in making decisions that are both cost effective while still providing quality services for youth and families in Ontario.

Who Is Youth Justice Ontario
  • YJO was formed in the fall of 2002 via the amalgamation of the Ontario Contract Custody, Observation and Detention Homes Association (OCCODHA) (Phase 1, open and secure custody) and the Ontario Association of Community Correctional Residences (OACCR) (Phase II open custody).
  • YJO is composed of approximately 50 agencies, operating over 100 transfer payment facilities, more than 780 beds, servicing over 5000 residents (admissions) per year.
  • We employ about 770 full time staff and 780 part time staff.
  • The former associations have a history of working productively with the Ontario Government.
Statistics From Our Members

In recent years, a subcommittee developed and circulated a survey to all members of Youth Justice Ontario.  From that survey, the following information was learned.

  • Throughout the sector, there is an annual staff turnover rate of 21%.
  • Agencies replaced 634 staff members over the last two years.
  • Agencies replaced 336 staff members last year.
  • Staff training costs the agencies in excess of $1,000,000 per year.
  • The “Degree of Difficulty” for hiring males is “4”, females “2.9” (on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being extremely difficult).
  • 91.7% of agencies reported the reason for leaving was “higher pay”.
  • The average minimum part time hourly rate is $12.79, ranging from $10.08/hr. to $16.81/hr., a variance of $6.73/hr.
  • The average maximum part time hourly wage is $14.56, ranging from $10.58/hr. to $21.38/hr., a variance of $10.80.
  • The average starting rate for Full Time staff is $29,557, ranging from $26,457 to $34,964, a variance of $8,507.
  • The average maximum front line wage is $35,229, ranging from $29,000 to $46,000, a variance of $17,000.
  • Our chief competitors for staff are the education field (higher pay, no shift work), child protection (higher pay, no shift work) and Police services (higher pay).
  • Funding inequities exist within our own sector, causing staff members to pursue similar positions at other similar agencies.
  • Of the Full Time Workers, 37.9% have less than 2 year’s experience.
  • Of the Part time staff, 67.4% have less than 2 year’s experience (note: there are often only 2 or 3 staff on shift).
  • 51.3% of full time staff are male, 48.6% are female.
  • 43.5% of part times staff are male, 56.5% are female.
  • Approximately 80% of our residents are male.
Seeking Advice & Suggestions from the Ontario Government

Currently, YJO member agencies are finding it difficult to hire and retain qualified staff.  The result is that the agencies are experiencing an instable environment in which it is becoming increasing difficult to deliver secure and effective programs. YJO would like to seek the advice and suggestions of the Ontario government through the new Ministry of Children and Youth Services, which funds the YJO agencies regarding the following:

  • We have excellent staff training programs available, with government support.  However, we cannot move very far past basic training because of staff turnover.  We are in a constant retrenchment situation regarding qualified staff.
  • YJO is committed to addressing the recidivism rate in youth.  However, due to staff inexperience and training needs, our challenge is to provide the level of programming required which will significantly reduce recidivism.
  • Youth Justice Residential Facilities have been able to “hang on” to some staff members, largely due to their dedication to our youths, and because of different techniques agencies use to create a positive work atmosphere.
  • The Youth Justice Residential Services Sector is reaching a crisis stage similar to the one faced in February 1989, when a YOA Youth worker (Krista Sepp) was killed and 7 residents of the York Detention Centre (government run) escaped and stole a car, resulting in 5 deaths.  We do not wish to respond to such tragedy again.
  • The last major government initiative in this area followed Krista Sepp’s death, resulting in the Safeguards review of the YOA system, the Youth Offender Services Manual being developed and standards of care, training, safety and security were increased.  Salaries were raised from approximately $18,000 to $28,000.  Staff in the Sector felt recognized and treated as professionals.
  • In the last few years there have been two resident deaths in residential settings, partly because of young, untrained staff members inadequately dealing with situations.
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