Inglis v Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General of BC [2013]

Case summary

Inglis concerns the constitutionality of the 2008 closure of the mother-baby program at Alouette Correctional Centre for Women. The program accommodated women who gave birth during their prison terms. Infants were allowed to stay with their mothers in the months after their births, giving them time to bond, breastfeed and develop familial attachments.

The program was closed despite a favourable internal assessment.

The case was launched in 2008 by five women and two of their children, who argued that their constitutional rights mandate the reinstatement of the program. The plaintiffs argued that a mother’s status as a prisoner should not deprive her or her baby of the unique and deeply meaningful benefits of being together during the newborn period.

The BC Supreme Court trial was held from May 27, 2013 to June 21, 2013.

West Coast LEAF’s involvement

West Coast LEAF intervened to argue that the mother-baby program must be reinstated. We believe that the cancellation was constitutionally prohibited on the grounds that it was contrary to the mothers’ and babies’ right to security of the person and to equality under sections 7 and 15 of the Charter.

This case is about the rights of all mothers and babies to stay together wherever it is in the best interests of the child. West Coast LEAF intervened to ensure that the equality rights of these women and their babies are front and centre in the state’s treatment of imprisoned women.


The BC Supreme Court ruled that the provincial government’s decision to close the mother-baby program at the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women (ACCW) was unconstitutional and violated the rights of both mothers and their infants.

The Court held that mothers’ and babies’ equality rights, as well as their rights to security of the person, were violated by the government’s decision to end the program. The decision to end the program was not made with due consideration of the best interests of children or the constitutional rights of mothers, nor was the cancellation due to any legitimate fears about potential harm to babies. In fact, the evidence showed that the program was beneficial to mothers, babies, and the prison environment as a whole.

Case documents

Application for leave to intervene – Supreme Court of British Columbia

Factum – Supreme Court of British Columbia

Decision – Supreme Court of British Columbia

Case documents

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