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Ontario’s human rights commissioner is calling for reforms at a detention centre in Hamilton, saying drugs are easy to come by at the “extremely overcrowded” facility.

In a letter to the province’s solicitor general earlier this month, Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane says the Hamilton Wentworth Detention Centre doesn’t have the resources to adequately prevent drug overdoses.

The letter comes after representatives from the Ontario Human Rights Commission toured the detention centre to make sure it was keeping up with standards.

Mandhane tells Solicitor General Sylvia Jones that everyone her team spoke with at the jail expressed concerns about the number of overdoses – and related deaths – at the facility, which is also known as the Barton Street jail.

Mandhane says the detention centre should switch from a “security-focused approach to addictions to one rooted in human rights.”

She says the province is “well-positioned” to interrupt the cycle of addiction and incarceration by making sure people have access to support upon their release.

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