Commissioner's update for correctional employees: July 21, 2023

This content is a message to Correctional Service Canada (CSC) staff from CSC's Commissioner.

Yesterday, I held a press conference, accompanied by Assistant Commissioners Kirstan Gagnon and France Gratton, on the review of inmate Paul Bernardo’s transfer from a maximum-security institution to a medium penitentiary. I also sent a separate email message to all CSC employees about this. I encourage you to read it if you haven’t had the chance to do 

The committee, which included external representation, concluded that the decisions to reclassify and transfer Paul Bernardo to a medium security facility were sound and followed all applicable laws and policies.

Even if our organization went above the policy to ensure that the victims’ families were notified, two recommendations were made by the committee to ensure that we respect the victims’ rights. I fully accept them.

This has been a challenging time for us all and I want to thank everyone who has worked on this review. A special thank you to the communications teams who worked tirelessly on responding to questions from the media and developing communications products.

CSC’s goal will remain the same: carrying out our duties according to the:

Incident at Stony Mountain Institution

On Monday evening, a serious incident took place at Stony Mountain Institution in Winnipeg. Seven inmates were injured, and one died after an altercation. No staff members were physically injured. I want to express my sincere gratitude to the staff members who responded to the incident and assessed the injured inmates to ensure they received medical treatment as quickly as possible.

Your actions during these critical moments are essential in diffusing situations and keeping staff and offenders safe. You were faced with a very difficult situation but showed resilience and professionalism in the face of adversity. Every day, our front-line workers put their lives at risk to ensure safety in our institutions. I am extremely proud of the work you do, and I cannot thank you enough. 

I know that this kind of situation can be very challenging for those working in our institutions and events like these can be triggering.

Resources are available to support you during this difficult time. EAP referral agents are available to listen and help. Please remember that our Critical Incident Stress Management Program and Employee Assistance Services are available:

United Nations ambassador meeting

On June 28, I had the opportunity to meet with Bob Rae virtually, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations (UN) in New York. We discussed current international situations and Canadian contributions.

I shared that CSC is actively:

In 2022 to 2023, CSC received seven international delegations. We discussed CSC’s contributions to peace operation missions past and future. It was a great exchange, and I look forward to further collaboration with the Canadian delegation at the UN.

World Day for International Justice

July 17 was World Day for International Justice. It marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute on July 17, 1998. The Rome Statute is the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court, which seeks to protect people from:

This day highlights the importance of upholding:

Let us use this moment to:

Nelson Mandela International Day

July 18 marked Nelson Mandela International Day, which celebrates the late Nelson Mandela’s positive impact on the world.

In remembrance of his legacy, the United Nations’ Nelson Mandela Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners constitute the universally acknowledged minimum standards for the management of prison facilities and the treatment of prisoners.

At CSC, we recognize the outstanding contributions that Nelson Mandela made in his fight for more humane and effective correctional policies. CSC honours his memory and upholds his values through:

For more information on Nelson Mandela International Day please visit: 

2023 ethnocultural calendar

I am pleased to announce that CSC’s 2023 Ethnocultural Anti-Racism Calendar was a success. Earlier this year, the Reintegration Services Division created and distributed calendars featuring offender art and poetry with the theme of Diversity includes me – includes you. The calendar provided offenders with the opportunity to have their messages about racism and discrimination heard through their artwork and poetry.

Due to popular demand, the calendar is available on the Hub. I encourage you all to take a look at the results of this innovative project. You can print the individual months and post them at your workstations.

75 years of Alcoholics Anonymous in Atlantic

The Dorchester Penitentiary Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) group is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Over the past years, many lives have been positively impacted by AA meetings at Dorchester. This group continues to be of great importance in the history of AA in the country.

In 1948, the Clarke Group was formed in Moncton by a member who came to help her friend with alcoholism in her family. Shortly thereafter, local members of the newly formed group petitioned officials at Dorchester Penitentiary, then known as Dominion Penitentiary, to meet with inmates who needed help with alcoholism.

This initiative proved to be:

AA is now recognized by two million members worldwide as the oldest registered active prison group in Canada. As of January 2022, 1,522 prison groups were registered in Canada and the United States with 38,299 incarcerated members.

I want to thank all the CSC staff members and volunteers, past and present, who have ensured the success of this support group.

Inmate Bicycle Repair Program

Institutions across the country innovate with new offender rehabilitation programs. Inmates at William Head Institution can participate in a new program focused on bicycle repair skills. The offenders repair bikes which are then donated to people in need. The program develops skills and allows inmates to give back to their community in meaningful ways. Work like this is what makes CSC world class.

Check out more in this Let’s Talk article:

CSC’s role in the protection of society is an important role. The work that we do is complex and challenging. To achieve our results takes a team effort. I wish to once again acknowledge the work you do.


Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence.

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