John Howard Society of Simcoe & Muskoka


Digital Access to Justice Court Support

The Digital Access to Justice Program initiated in December 2020 as a direct response to community need in Barrie, Ontario. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the courthouse was forced to close its doors and move to virtual service delivery. Many individuals did not have access to the technology to attend, resulting in bench warrants being issued.

With the shift to a digital platform, we recognized that there was not only a need for digital access, but also a deficit in digital literacy for many individuals. In addition to strengthening digital literacy and facilitating digital access, we also support individuals with:

  • Accessing their disclosures
  • Provide phone access
  • support for individuals working to retain counsel
  • assist clients in navigating the Legal Aid system
  • Booking self-rep Crown Pre-Trials
  • Bench warrants
  • and any other appointments required by the courts (Direct Accountability Program, Mental Health Diversion)

For more information on our Court Support services, please contact:

Tracy King

Community Reintegration Services

Aims to accelerate the reintegration of criminally involved persons into the community and lower the rates of recidivism by facilitating access to community resources. the programs offered are as follows:

Relapse Prevention
Treatment for Criminal and Addictive Behaviour. Justice-involved clients learn what causes relapse, how to recognize common triggers, and other methods for preventing relapse. This program uses a strengths-based instructional approach with inclusive language and grade 6 readability.

Parenting and Child Development
Participants will have an introduction to child development and positive parenting skills to help raise confident, caring, and healthy children while diving deeper into their own lives and patterns.

Looking For Work
This program helps clients identify personally fulfilling career paths, provides skills to get them on track for attaining employment, and shows them skills needed to keep it. A certificate of completion is awarded for the successful completion of the program.

Managing Money
Understanding and practicing daily living skills can be crucial to the success of clients making significant life transitions. This program helps clients who may have struggled with money in the past—whether it be because of addiction, mental illness, incarceration, or other difficulties—learn to manage money in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and establish a foundation for the future.

Healthy Relationships
This is a six-session program focused on establishing and maintaining healthy relationships. This program focuses on skill-building for promoting positive and healthy relationships. 

Mental Health and Wellness
This is a six-session program focused on building lifelong skills for mental wellness. The Mental Health and Wellness Program is a psycho-educational program providing access to cognitive behavioural therapy for individuals living with depression and/or anxiety.

Emotions Management
In this program, participants gain insight in to their emotions as well as develop tools to help them respond in more effective ways through the use of a cognitive behavioral therapy and psycho educational approach.

Women’s Empowerment
This is a six-session program which includes modules on self-esteem, boundaries, relationship building and coping strategies. This program focuses on building female empowerment and cohesiveness, as well as curtailing destructive behavior.  


The Community Reintegration worker is able to facilitate access to specialized community-based programs and prevention services that assist with a healthy and positive reintegration into the community after incarceration. This program is available to anyone exiting custody from either a provincial or federal institution, or anyone who has recently been released but are struggling to reintegrate. The program includes any of programs listed on the menu as well as the additional supports below: 

  • Emergency Shelter/ housing support 
  • Employment services 
  • Financial assistance referrals 
  • Mental and physical health care referrals 
  • Education opportunities including literacy programs and personalized self improvement programming 
  • Addiction support/counselling and referrals 
  • Basic needs items including clothing, food, etc. 
  • Assistance with identification replacement

Hannah Ditaranto

Community Service Order Program

The Community Service Order (CSO) Program is made possible by our partnerships with other organizations and agencies in the Simcoe & Muskoka region. Adult clients are court ordered to complete a certain number of community service hours, which may be completed in a variety of different ways. The CSO Case Manager helps to facilitate and oversee the completion of these hours.

CSO clients are low-risk, and often first-time offenders. CSO clients complete an intake assessment with the CSO Case Manager and options to complete hours are discussed. Clients are most successful when we can match with a placement that aligns with their personal interests. 

The success of this program depends in part on the placement’s ability to provide to client’s pro-social role modelling, a connection or re-connect with the client to their community, continued support, and the building of positive relationships. We have had clients continue at their placements once the hours have been completed, due to the fact that they have developed a rapport with the placement and continue to wish to give back to their community.

The John Howard Society of Simcoe & Muskoka wishes to thank all of the community service order placement providers we work with. These dedicated and involved individuals provide opportunities for our clients to work with positive role models, acquire pro-social skills, and gain valuable work experience and skills. 

For more information on our Community Service Order program, please contact:

Lauryn Margarit


Institutional Services

Provides assistance for offenders being released from custody to successfully re-integrate into society.

Institutional services are provided to the following institutions in the Simcoe and Muskoka area:

  • Beaver Creek Institution (Federal)
  • Central North Correctional Centre (Provincial)

Volunteers with this program are trained, supervised, and monitored by John Howard Society staff. This program assists individuals with their search for viable and sustainable options post-release

Assistance focuses on the areas that have proven to be a pivotal in determining successful re-integration:

  • Criminal History
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Financial
  • Identification
  • Clothing
  • Appropriate accommodation
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • John Howard Society of Simcoe & Muskoka can help with addressing and assisting with immediate needs both pre- and post-release.

For more information on our institutional services, please contact:

Chris Williams

Non-Residential Attendance Centre

Our Attendance Centre programs are funded by the Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services. The Non-Residential Attendance Centre (NRAC) provides community programming to various youth clients in the Midland, Orillia, Collingwood, and Wasaga Beach area.

The NRAC provides community programming consistent with the principles of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). The model facilitates the effective use of sentence options provided by the legislation; specifically, probation disposition and deferred custody and supervision.

The NRAC helps clients (generally 12 to 17 years of age) take accountability for their actions, address the risk factors that have led to their involvement with the criminal justice system, develop positive attitudes, behaviours and social skills, improve school performance, and create positive links to the community through recreation and employment skills.

The NRAC is for clients who:

  • Have been sentenced to a term of probation by the youth court
  • Have been ordered by the youth court to complete hours at the NRAC
  • Are at a high risk of re-offending

For more information on the Non-Residential Attendance Centre, please contact:

Sydney Margarit


Kierra Murray

Record Suspensions

A record suspension, formally known as a pardon, allows clients to keep their previous criminal records separate and apart from all other criminal Record suspensions allow clients with previous criminal records to not be shown on new criminal record checks.

You are able to apply for a record suspension 5 years after you have completed all sentences for summary conviction offences, and 10 years after for indictable offences. (May vary if the offence date is before March 13th, 2012)


The 5-10 year waiting period begins after all sentences are complete, meaning all of the sentence, including parole/statutory release has been served, probation orders or conditional sentences have been completed, and all fines and/or restitution orders have been paid.

You may not be eligible for a record suspension if:

  • You have been convicted of a Schedule 1 Offence (sexual offence involving a child) (with some exceptions)
  • You have been convicted of more than 3 indictable offences, each with a prison sentence of 2 years or more

The record suspension process can take 6 months to a year to complete and the Parole Board of Canada charges an administration fee to process record suspension applications. Once received, the Parole Board can take 6-12 months to render a decision.

How we can help

The John Howard Society of Simcoe & Muskoka is here to assist and support with every step of the application process. The Parole Board has specific requirements and steps that we are able to help clients work through. Some services include:

  • Determining eligibility 
  • Corresponding with personnel from the courts, the RCMP, police stations, and the Parole Board on behalf of the client
  • Obtaining necessary paperwork from courthouses
  • Assisting clients with all paperwork and forms
  • Completing the application and mailing it to the Parole Board of Canada

There is an administrative fee of $250 associated for this service


For more information about record suspensions, please contact:

Sydney Margarit