Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa

311-211 Bronson Avenue
Ottawa, ON  K1R 6H5
Phone:  (613) 237-7427 or 1-800-611-4755
Fax:  (613) 237-8312
Email: bryonie.baxter@efryottawa.com
Website:  http://www.efryottawa.com

Contact person: Bryonie Baxter, Executive Director, email bryonie.baxter@efryottawa.com


Elizabeth Fry was a British Quaker who worked to improve conditions for women incarcerated in poorhouses in England in the early 1800s.

Inspired by her efforts, and encouraged by the Archambault Report which stressed the benefits of visiting people in prison, in 1951, five volunteers from the University Women's Club of Ottawa began to visit women incarcerated in the Ottawa Jail.

From these early beginnings, the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa has grown. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, the Society expanded and at one point had as many as 16 full-time and 12 relief staff, plus over 100 volunteers. In 1973, Macphail House was opened to provide an alternative to jail for women in the justice system and to provide women in the community with a supportive environment to gain help with their personal issues.

In order to contact women at the beginning of the judicial process, the Society initiated a Volunteer Court Program in 1975, which continues to provide information and emotional support for women daily at court.

In 1979, at the request of the Ministry of Correctional Services, the Society opened Fergusson House, a Community Resource Centre for women awaiting trial, on probation or on Temporary Absence passes. A formalized program to recruit, train, and coordinate volunteers was put in place in the early 1980's. 1981 marked the beginning of the Counselling Program and by 1990 the caseload had risen to more than 150 women per year.

With the advent of the Young Offenders Act in 1985, Macphail House became an Open Custody facility for Young Offender women while retaining its commitment to women from the community; Fergusson House became certified as union local in 1985.

Macphail House closed on March 31st, 1993 due to the increasingly restrictive guidelines of the Provincial Government, which impacted the autonomy of the Society.

The agency has developed, with the continuing aid of funds from individuals, the United Way and Federal, Provincial, and Regional Governments.

Every effort is being made to increase public awareness of conditions in society, such as poverty and abuse that put women at risk of coming into conflict with the law.

Services and Programs

The Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa offers a variety of practical and effective programs and services to our clients. Women of all ages are referred to the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa by the officials working in the criminal justice system, by lawyers, medical professionals, social workers, social assistance workers, and by staff of community-based organizations and agencies. Women also seek out our services through word-of-mouth referrals and self-referrals.

Individual Counselling

A counsellor provides one-on-one support and advocacy services to clients and assists them in assessing their needs and/or risks. Together, the counsellor and client determine strategies to help the woman respond to and deal with her individual circumstances.

Group Counselling

Programs are run in a group setting, with specific modules and learning objectives for each session. Groups meet each week, and run for 6 to 16 weeks.

Theft Prevention Programs

These programs for both adults and youth – address the underlying issues that contribute to theft behaviour. Clients learn to identify their theft “triggers” and they acquire appropriate tools to cope with and overcome these stressors. The program introduces alternative choices and offers additional resources, support and referrals.

Direct Accountability Program

An alternative to prosecution for eligible individuals 18 years of age and older who have been charged with minor criminal offences.  The Program will accept referrals that have been screened by the Crown as eligible to participate in a Community-based alternative to the Court process and who have been assessed by the Community Justice Worker as appropriate for the Program.

Healthy Choices

Over an 8-week period, groups for both adults and youth explore healthy methods of communication and assertiveness, and issues around self-esteem, peer pressure, substance use and misuse, healthy relationships, and other familial issues.

Anger Programming- Adult (10 weeks)

This 10-week program for adult women helps them learn to identify the role of anger and its use/misuse. Clients learn to recognize different “styles” of anger and concrete strategies to effectively manage their own anger. Group members also learn more about their own personal and community resources.

Conflict Resolution - Youth (8 weeks)

Identifies the role of conflict within interpersonal relationships
Explores appropriate responses to conflict
Builds effective communication skills

Hooked Up (full-time on-going program)

Target clientele is women and transgendered individuals who are involved in the sex-trade industry
Provides peer support - Assists in developing harm reduction strategies as it relates to sex work
Offers access to food bank and various other resources
Assists with basic needs (housing, identification)

Gateway - Adult (8 weeks)

Supper Club program for women and transgendered individuals who are involved in the sex-trade industry – provides a meal together with programming and outreach.

Relapse Prevention Programming

A 10-week program for women interested in learning relapse prevention skills that can help them become more aware of the bio-psycho-social factors directly associated with addictions and relapse prevention.

Support Services

The following additional services are offered at our local office and can be incorporated based on the needs of individual participants and availability.

Family Support Program

Information workshops to parents and youth
A sharing environment and a peer network for both parents and youth

House Retention and Support

Provides support and advocacy on housing issues
Information workshops on tenant rights
Assists with housing searches, landlord-tenant negotiations

J.F. Norwood House (housing)

Provides transitional housing for women in a 12 bed facility designed to assist women with reintegration into the community and offer assistance finding permanent housing.  Each woman is assigned a personal support worker to help her with her reintegration plan.

Community Reintegration Program

The Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa has a counsellor at the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre, where we offer community reintegration planning to women, including young offenders.

Court Support and Accompaniment-Volunteer Initiatives Program (VIP)

In our Courthouse office (adjacent to Courtroom #5), volunteers provide information and assistance to women and girls attending court proceedings.

Our volunteer court workers also attend Court by request and accompany women who must appear for court.

Note: These programs are social service related, and not clinical in nature; we have an array of E.Fry assessment and development tools.

Health Promotion Group:

Over a 5 week period, participants will take part in 10 modules designed to promote healthier living.  Participants will learn how to prepare healthy meals on a budget, address concerns around positive self image, self esteem, communication, substance misuse, and relapse prevention. Participant will also engage in weekly physical activity in a community setting.

Youth Services between ages 12 to 18

Want help sorting out what you need and want for your life? In conflict with the law? Want support working through a problem or building new skills?  Our youth counsellor will listen and support you in reaching your goals.

Here is what E-Fry Ottawa offers youth and their families:

  • Individual counselling
  • Theft Prevention: counselling aimed at addressing the issues underlying theft behavior
  • Anger Program Group: 9 sessions of socializing, learning and practicing ways to communicate assertively to resolve conflicts
  • Love Yourself Love Life Group: 6 weeks of developing strategies to "increase everyday happiness"
  • Young Women at Risk of Sexual Exploitation Programs: counselling, support, outreach and advocacy    
  • Housing Support Services
  • Family counselling
  • Parents of Teens Support Group
  • Reintegration Support:  for youth who are in detention or open custody at  Talitha  House or Sundance Youth Correctional Facility and returning to the Ottawa area

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