Response to the 50th Annual Report of the Correctional Investigator 2022 to 2023
The Office of the Correctional Investigator (OCI) plays an important role in advancing the shared objectives of our respective organizations. By identifying issues of mutual concern in the federal correctional system, the OCI assists the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) to fulfill its mandate of contributing to public safety and supporting offender rehabilitation. While the OCI provides an oversight function, it is equally important for us to collaborate on achievable solutions that consider CSC's competing priorities, operational needs and the fiscal environment. Before providing CSC's responses to the specific recommendations, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some initiatives accomplished, key correctional results achieved as well as new policies implemented in 2022-2023.
Over the course of the past fiscal year, CSC has implemented a variety of new initiatives
1) to support a safe, respectful and inclusive environment by developing an Anti-Racism framework and creating an Anti-Racism, Diversity and Inclusion directorate;
2) to deliver successful Structured Intervention Units by increasing the participation of volunteers and external organization to ensure meaningful contact with offenders;
3) to foster Indigenous reconciliation and continue to address overrepresentation by appointing a new Deputy Commissioner for Indigenous Corrections and developing a strategy to enhance and expand the use Section 81 of the CCRA; and,
4) to promote rehabilitation and safe reintegration by undertaking virtual correctional program delivery pilots in institutions and the community.
The overarching goal of any effective correctional agency is to contribute to public safety by reducing recidivism through as an efficient and a cost-effective means as possible. One recidivism metric in CSC’s annual Departmental Results Report is the number of federal offenders not returning to custody within 5 years of sentence expiration. Overall, during the past decade, there has been a steady and substantial improvement (from 82.7% in 2013-2014 to 88.6% in 2022-2023) in this recidivism measure. In 2022-2023, the rate was 94.3% for women and 88.1% for men, for an overall rate of 88.6%. As well, both the number and percentage of federal Indigenous offenders not readmitted to federal custody within 5 years of sentence expiry date has also increased over the past ten years (from 75.5% in 2013-2014 to 83.4% in 2022-2023).
During 2022-2023, notable decreases in conditional release revocations were observed for both men and women. Statistics also show that the number and percentage of Indigenous offenders on conditional release successfully reaching sentence expiration date has increased over the past ten years. A synthesis of CSC research studies indicates Indigenous offenders have key differences from non-Indigenous offenders with respect to profile characteristics, institutional experiences and release outcomes. New research has found that Indigenous Intervention Centre participation is related to positive release decisions, use of culturally specific release options, and success in the community. In addition, our research shows that cultural components, community connections, and offender-driven approaches are the main drivers for successful Section 84 releases where Indigenous peoples play a key role in supporting Indigenous offenders upon release.
Throughout the pandemic era, fluctuations in new admissions and releases resulted in unprecedented declines in the federal in-custody population. However, in 2022-2023, there was a substantial increase in new admissions to federal custody (from 3,973 in 2021-2022 to 4,624 in 2022-2023) resulting in a significant rise in the carceral population. During 2022-2023, the federal custody population grew by 6.2% at year-end compared to the usual pre-pandemic 1% annual growth rate (from 12,207 in 2021-2022 to 12,963 in 2022-2023). Consequently, the federal in-custody population appears to be returning to pre-pandemic levels much sooner than expected and our recent population forecasts estimate custodial growth will continue.
These projections are further supported by Statistics Canada ‘Police-reported Crime Statistics in Canada, 2022’ which shows that the Crime Severity Index (CSI) had increased in Canada for the second consecutive year and the violent CSI rose in 2022, reaching its highest point since 2007. The consecutive increases recorded in the overall CSI may also indicate a return to the upward trend in crime observed before the start of the pandemic. The projected increases will continue to have resource implications for our organization.
Nevertheless, in 2022-2023 both men and women in federal custody continued to turn over at increasingly higher rates with the percentage of offenders granted a discretionary release at the time of their first release eligibility increasing from 48.8% in 2021-2022 to 53.6% in 2022-2023. Moreover, there was a higher percentage of federal offenders with an identified need for an upgrade to their education who completed (66.0% in 2022-23 versus 59.8% in 2021-2022) and/or a nationally recognized correctional program who completed (66.0% in 2022-2023 versus 59.8% in 2021-2022) prior to their first release.
In May 2022, a new Commissioner’s Directive (CD) 100 – Gender Diverse Offenders was promulgated to provide direction on procedural changes that reflect the CSC’s commitment to meeting the needs of its gender diverse offender population in ways that respect their human rights and ensure their safety and dignity as well as the safety of others in the institutions and community. To support CD 100 policy development, implementation, monitoring and ongoing change management, CSC created the Gender Considerations Secretariat (GCS) as a centre of expertise on all matters relative to gender diverse offenders and ensures a central policy interpretation function.
In response to an earlier OCI recommendation, a new CD 574 – Sexual Coercion and Violence (SCV) was also promulgated in May 2022 to establish and maintain a zero tolerance strategy to prevent, identify, respond to, investigate, and monitor incidents of sexual assault and/or allegations of sexual assault towards offenders in federal custody. Throughout 2022-23, CSC actively monitored SCV incidents and reported on a weekly basis, conducted research and developed a case management tool to reiterate the importance of asking questions to offenders specifically in relation to their experiences of either being a victim or a perpetrator of sexual coercion and/or sexual violence.
The OCI and Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) produced a special report into the experiences of older individuals in federal corrections. Following this joint investigation, CSC Health Services conducted a needs assessment and developed an Older Persons in Custody policy framework. Preparing older persons for their release requires appropriate screening and assessment, housing, programming and skill development that are responsive to their social and health care needs. Moreover, addressing the complex health care needs of older persons and long-term care placement require timely dialogue and collaboration with community-based service providers to ensure access to long-term or palliative care in the community. CSC remains committed to ongoing quality health care improvement with the goal of maintaining optimal wellness and quality of life for older persons in custody.
Newly conducted research during 2022-2023 continues to demonstrate that CSC’s data-driven risk assessment tools are valid for use during the initial security classification process of both men and women; Indigenous and Non-Indigenous; as well as Black offenders. In terms of staff, a great deal of CSC training focuses on the appropriate and competent use of risk assessment tools associated with security classification and the incorporation of Indigenous Social History factors in assessments and decision-making. CSC is taking lessons from ISH to establish and implement Black Social History factors as part of considerations for responding to the needs of Black offenders. As well, a multi-year project is underway with the University of Regina and Indigenous peoples to develop an Indigenous-informed security classification process and tools.
Five years ago, in July 2018, I had the privilege of being formally appointed to lead and serve CSC as Commissioner and have been fully supported by an engaged and dedicated team of professionals across all levels of the organization. While CSC successfully managed through the many operational challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2022-2023, the Service had to quickly transition to the post-pandemic realities of delivering federal corrections in Canada. Together, we remain steadfast and committed to ensuring safe, secure, humane and dignified custody for those in our care. I look forward to continuing an open and constructive relationship with the OCI in pursuit of our shared objectives in order to best serve Canadians.
Correctional Service of Canada
Responses to Recommendations
Note: The recommendations are not in sequence numerical order as some recommendations are directed to the Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs. Responses to those recommendations are prepared in another document by Public Safety on behalf of the Minister.
Until a new payment and allowance model is adopted and put in place, I recommend that CSC immediately implement a series of interim measures that will help to offset costs and increase the purchasing power of federally incarcerated individuals, including:
a. removing all mandatory deductions;
b. adjusting the pay level criteria to allow for a larger proportion of individuals to receive Level A and Level B payment;
c. ensuring goods that are essential to self-care and welfare (e.g., hygiene products) are provided free of charge;
d. reviewing the purchasing catalog and ensuring goods are more affordable and accessible.
To provide offenders with greater financial flexibility, and the opportunity to increase their savings in preparation for their reintegration in the community, CSC has taken several steps to foster greater flexibility for offenders as part of their rehabilitation, reintegration and preparation for release to the community, if and when released.
Deductions are made from the inmate’s income before depositing their earnings in the Inmate Trust Fund for reimbursement for any indebtedness to the Federal Crown, food, accommodation, the administration of the inmate telephone system, and contributions to the Inmate Welfare Fund.
During the pandemic, CSC waived deductions for food, accommodation, and the administration of the inmate telephone system as a temporary measure to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on offenders and to provide them with greater financial flexibility.
CSC also undertook a review to determine the way forward with regards to offender money that would support their reintegration. CSC is proceeding with an indefinite waiver of the deductions for food, accommodation, and the administration of the inmate telephone system, which amounts to 30% of the inmate’s income. This translates to an average increase in funds of approximately $425 per inmate.
Of note, mandatory deductions for reimbursement for any indebtedness to the Federal Crown and contributions to the Inmate Welfare Fund will continue.
The pay system is designed to encourage inmates to budget their money so that they have funds for authorized expenditures and for their release.
Based on CSC’s data in the 2022-2023 fiscal year, the majority of offenders (close to 80%) receive pay at Level D or above. CSC will initiate a review of the criteria for the different pay levels to see if any adjustments can be made by the end of the current fiscal year.
Hygiene products are provided free of charge upon an inmate’s arrival or transfer to an institution. As well, inmates receive a financial credit every two weeks to purchase health and hygiene products from the institutional canteens. Brands and the selection of available products are itemized on the institutional canteen list, which is approved by the Institutional Head.
Hypo-allergenic hygiene items, recommended by an institutional physician, are provided to inmates free of charge. This provision guarantees that inmates receive what they require based on their individual health needs.
CSC ensures that inmates are provided with the products they require for personal health and cleanliness. The Service provides these items directly to inmates or provides inmates with the opportunity to purchase them through institutional canteens or the national supplier catalogues.
Since the initial launch of its national approach to inmate purchasing in April 2016, CSC had relied, because of a competitive process, on one National supplier for the provision of inmate personal property within CSC’s institutions.
Since then, in order to improve operations and enhance services, selection, and accessibility as well as facilitate competitive pricing for inmates, CSC explored other options for inmate purchasing of goods.
On January 4, 2022, an Amazon Business account was activated for use by CSC on behalf of inmates. This allows inmates to have access to pre-approved items at the same price as any other Canadian citizen. The resulting catalogue that is available to inmates, from which they can order, is reviewed regularly to ensure affordability and accessibility. CSC does not make any profit or add any kind of additional fees to the e-commerce prices.
In September 2022, to further promote affordability and accessibility, CSC added an additional national e-commerce supplier for the provision of inmate personal items called Prototype Integrated Solution. In addition, there is an opportunity for any Canadian business, who meet specific criteria, to be added to CSC’s list of suppliers available for inmate purchasing.
Each supplier sets their prices individually to ensure a competitive market environment and prices for inmates. CSC neither sets prices nor has control on the availability of approved items from each supplier. It has been noted that some items have cheaper options available to the general public, such as televisions. This is due to CSC’s security requirements, which prohibit the purchase of TVs (or any other item) that have internet access. A significant increase in television sales has been noted. After the first five months of 2023, 150 televisions were purchased, compared to 148 for the entire year of 2022.
CSC is continuously working on the improvement of the Inmate Purchasing Program.
Next Steps and Timelines: Outlined in each sub-recommendation above.
I recommend, consistent with the Minister’s Directive, that CSC develop and provide clear, specific, and consistent national guidelines to ensure humane treatment for dry cell placements that includes specific criteria and guidance on items to be provided in terms of bedding and mattresses, food, personal hygiene and toiletries, phones, and meaningful human interaction.
Providing clear, specific, and consistent operational direction to ensure humane treatment for dry cell placements is a key commitment and priority of CSC.
Recent CSC Actions:
At the time the Ministerial Directive was issued in September 2022, CSC sent direction to the Regions specifying the:
- oversight requirements;
- need for a detailed rationale for dry cell placement or continuance;
- need to take into account the inmate’s state of physical and mental health;
- need for continued accessibility to physical and mental health services;
- need for the provision of adequate bedding and nutritious food;
- need to continue to educate inmates on the dangers and risks of ingesting or carrying contraband.
CSC will be reviewing all comments provided through the public consultation on the draft regulations and supporting documents pertaining to dry cells that were recently published in the Canada Gazette and will consider further relevant changes in preparing the final draft for the approval of the Governor in Council.
Next Steps and Timelines: Once approval of the Governor in Council of the updated regulations is granted, the searching policy suite (including specific direction on the use of dry cells) will be updated and the consultation process will begin as part of the normal CSC process for promulgating policy.
I recommend that CSC take further action to address the needs and protect the rights of gender diverse individuals, including:
a. creating an external advisory role to inform decision-making regarding gender diverse individuals;
b. clarifying the practice of “overriding health or safety concerns” by establishing parameters, further guidelines, and clear examples;
c. establishing new institutional mechanisms for gender diverse individuals safely report abuse.
CSC is committed to, and has been lauded internationally for its leadership in, meeting the needs of gender diverse persons and pursuing decision making practices that are fair, impartial, and which respect the dignity and human rights of this offender population.
CSC has a Gender Considerations Secretariat (GCS), which serves as a centre of expertise with respect to gender diverse offenders. The GCS also provides advise to support CSC operations across the country.
Since its implementation in 2020, the GCS has assisted CSC in mitigating risk through the provision of timely advice and guidance to operational staff, by ensuring the dissemination of consistent national direction. In addition to its active role in the promulgation of Commissioner’s Directive (CD) 100 – Gender Diverse Offenders, the GCS also developed and regularly updates the evergreen guidance document Gender Diverse Offenders: A Decision-Making Guide (the Guide). The Guide integrates easily accessible information into one document and provides guidance on the case management process for gender diverse offenders, from the moment an offender is sentenced to warrant expiry. Finally, the GSC plays a key role in the decision-making process for penitentiary placements and voluntary transfers.
In response to a continuously evolving landscape with respect to gender-diverse offenders, the GCS will pursue its work in the development of procedures, guidance, tools, training, etc. to ensure a cohesive approach for CSC decision-making. Moreover, the GCS will continue to create space for dialogue and inclusivity. Since CSC has taken this progressive and balanced approach, successes and opportunities have emerged, including ongoing engagements with international jurisdictions, as well as the emergence of grassroots site-level initiatives like gender support groups. Through the active engagement of the GCS and CSC’s centre of expertise, CSC will continue working with stakeholders, advocacy groups and other correctional agencies in Canada and around the word to advance this important work.
CSC is committed to ensuring that its decision-making in relation to gender diverse offenders is unbiased and non-discriminatory, while simultaneously ensuring public safety and the safety and security of offenders and staff. The language “overriding health or safety concerns that cannot be resolved” was included in policy to assist decision-makers in rendering fair and well-reasoned decisions in response to request for accommodation from gender diverse offenders. It is intended to operationalize and simplify the notion of “duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship”. In accordance with CD 100, the accommodation requests of gender diverse offenders ought to be considered on a case-by-case basis, with accommodation being the default position unless, through an assessment of the existing risk and needs, it is determined that there are health or safety concerns that merit further consideration. Where there is an identification of specific needs or risks that may result in “overriding health or safety concerns”, the decision maker must determine whether the identified potential health or safety concerns can be effectively mitigated (or "resolved"), which requires:
- having a clear understanding of the accommodation being sought;
- clearly defining/articulating the needs/risk that could result in an "overriding health or safety concern", and documenting said concerns; and
- identifying any potential strategies that could be implemented to "resolve" any identified health or safety concerns, and determining whether the identified mitigation strategy is deemed sufficient or insufficient to facilitate the requested accommodation.
In the context of decision-making related to penitentiary placements or voluntary transfers for gender-diverse offenders, case conferences are a mandatory and integral part of the assessment of the risks and needs. They assist staff in making informed decisions concerning offenders’ gender-related needs, while also ensuring progress towards rehabilitation and community reintegration. The GCS provides support and plays a challenge function with case managers and decision makers to ensure that mitigation strategies are effectively considered in the decision-making process.
The threshold of undue hardship must be met to deny a person the accommodation they require and have requested, and this is encapsulated in CSC policy by reference to "overriding health or safety concerns that cannot be resolved".
CD 574 - Sexual Coercion and Violence, clarifies expectations for staff when they are made aware of sexual assaults or allegations of sexual assault towards offenders. CSC has zero tolerance for sexual violence of any kind in our federal penitentiaries and it is our expectation that all allegations will be taken seriously, including immediately informing the police of any incidents that could constitute a criminal offence.
As recommended by the Office of the Correctional Investigator, a new sexual coercion and violence (SCV) alert has been established in the Offender Management System (OMS) to assist identifying offenders, including gender diverse offenders, who are vulnerable to SCV, or are perpetrators of SCV, to ensure appropriate action can be taken to better prevent these incidents from occurring.
In addition to offering gender diverse offenders various avenues to safely report grievances and concerns up to and including SCV, CSC is also taking proactive measures in an effort to prevent such issues and concerns in the first place. For example, as part of its training suite, the Diversity and Cultural Competency Training (DCCT) is mandatory for all CSC employees and includes both online and in-class components to increase the cultural competency of staff in their interactions with both colleagues and offenders. This training has been completed by 95% of CSC employees. It includes information on relevant policies including the Canadian Human Rights Act, as well as information on discrimination and racism. As part of its content review cycle and working with the support of academic subject matter-experts, CSC is currently reviewing and updating DCCT content to improve and build on the scope of the training.
Next Steps and Timelines: N/A
I recommend that CSC conduct a review of MSUs with the goal of reallocating resources to ensure that minimum security women benefit from community programs, services, and activities so that they are prepared at the earliest date possible to return to the community.
CSC is committed to providing adequate support and interventions to women to assist in their transition to minimum security and their eventual return to society.
Recent CSC Actions:
CSC’s current operational framework is representative of Creating Choices and the principles that govern corrections for women. Women classified as minimum security may be housed in a living unit located inside the perimeter fence of the institution or outside the perimeter fence, where a minimum-security unit is available. Offenders residing in the Minimum Security Units (MSUs) are expected to interact effectively and responsibly while subject to minimal monitoring.
Women living in the MSUs, can access the interventions, services and activities offered within the main compound of the institution in addition to the interventions, services and activities that are available within the MSUs. In addition, MSUs are designed to provide offenders with further access to the community through temporary absences, work releases and other opportunities facilitated through organizations and volunteers.
Throughout the pandemic era, fluctuations in new admissions and releases had resulted in unprecedented declines in the federal in-custody population. However, in 2022-2023, there was a substantial increase in new admissions to federal custody (from 3,973 in 2021-2022 to 4,624 in 2022-2023) resulting in a rise in the custodial population.
Nevertheless, in 2022-2023 both men and women in federal custody continued to turn over at increasingly higher rates with the percentage of offenders being granted a discretionary release at the time of their first release increasing from 48.8% in 2021-2022 to 53.6% in 2022-2023.
The overarching goal of any effective correctional agency is to contribute to public safety by reducing recidivism through as an efficient and a cost-effective means as possible. One recidivism metric is the number of offenders not returning to federal custody within five years of sentence expiration. In 2022-2023, 88.6% did not return (94.3% for women and 88.1% for men). During 2022-2023, notable decreases in conditional release revocations were also observed for both men and women.
Next Steps and Timelines: To ensure that CSC is optimizing the opportunities available to women classified as minimum security, CSC will conduct a review of the MSUs, specifically in view of exploring whether current resources are sufficient to ensure more timely access to programs and services in preparation for release. This review is scheduled to be completed by December 2024.
I recommend that CSC enhance the impact and reach of institutional Indigenous initiatives by:
a. conducting a review of current Pathways participants to identify and recommend individuals for Healing Lodge placements and other non-custodial alternatives (e.g., Section 84 agreements);
b. developing an overarching culturally responsive approach that compromises of institutional initiatives for indigenous people who do not benefit from the current pathways model. This would include expanding the benefits offered by the pathways initiative (e.g., access to Elders, ILOs, healing plans, one-to-one counselling to a larger number of individuals;
c. developing clear and concrete correctional plan objectives that guide sentence planning for offenders serving sentence is 10 years to life, and providing more meaningful incentives to Indigenous Lifers (e.g., ETAs, lower-security transfers, and Healing Lodge placements;
d. collaborating with Indigenous Initiatives at the regional and institutional levels to develop yearly national action plans that increase in-reach by First Nations, Métis, an Inuit communities, community based organizations, non-profits, post-secondary institutions, and other stakeholders to establish ties and support systems with incarcerated individuals that begin at intake and continue post Warrant Expiry.
CSC continues to work with internal and external stakeholders to increase access to Indigenous interventions and support services, including increased utilization of Section 81 Healing Lodges and the effective preparation of Indigenous offenders for release through Section 84 release planning process.
There was a 144% increase in FY 2022-2023 (433) in the number of total Indigenous offenders transferred to Section 81 and CSC Healing Lodge facilities over the previous fiscal year (177). There was also a 63% increase in the number of successful transfers to lower security for Indigenous offenders, from 384 in 2021-2022 to 433 in 2022-2023. In order to continue to maximize available Healing Lodge beds and improve access to Healing Lodge interventions for Indigenous offenders participating in Pathways, CSC will conduct a review, in the Fall of 2023, of the current Pathways participants to identify potential Healing Lodge placements. Quarterly reporting for Pathways indicators was implemented in Spring 2023 and includes information on Pathways participants transferring to Healing Lodges, lower security, and discretionary releases (including Section 84).
CSC is in the process of reviewing CSC’s Elder resourcing model to ensure an appropriate level of service is available. This will be completed by the Fall of 2025.
To promote the safe and timely reintegration of all federal offenders, correctional planning and interventions are tailored to address their individual risk and need areas. Correctional interventions respect and are responsive to the ethnic, cultural and linguistic needs of offenders, including Indigenous offenders. In accordance with policy, the sentence planning portion of the Correctional Plan identifies the objectives and significant events the offender must achieve to gain support for a reduction in security classification, temporary absences, work release and/or conditional release. The Correctional Plan Objectives Tool is available to staff to assist with the setting of objectives for offenders.
A revised Correctional Plan Objectives tool that includes specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-framed correctional plan objectives that are specific to the needs of Indigenous offenders serving sentences of 10 years or more will be completed by the end of December 2024.
CSC now offers both contributions as well as contracts to support Indigenous community engagement. Contracts and contributions continue to be awarded to Indigenous partners and eligible recipients to support the reintegration of Indigenous offenders; this includes support in transitioning to community from CSC’s Indigenous Intervention Centres as well as expanding community capacity for Section 84 release planning. In 2023-2024, CSC is providing contributions to eligible recipients in the amount of $900K, representing CSC’s full allocation for this fiscal year. CSC is also providing a value of $1.8M in contracts with Indigenous communities and organizations to provide support for Section 84 release planning to Indigenous communities.
Moving forward, CSC will ensure that regions, stakeholders and Indigenous communities and organizations are made aware of, and have access to, the funding available to them to support their engagement in offender reintegration. CSC anticipates that funding utilization will increase and partnerships will be enhanced as a result of this.
Next Steps and Timelines: Outlined in each subsection.
I recommend that CSC to create job security and additional financial supports for Elders:
a. Elders should be compensated comparably to CSC staff, as well as those in similar roles, such as federal government employees working as chaplains.
b. Elders should be offered and have access to benefit scheme that will foster their long-term wellness, including access to mental health and trauma support and resources, sick days, vacation, retirement contributions and savings and self-care, equivalent to federal government employees.
c. CSC should do away with erroneous Statement of Work that place an undue administrative burden on elders.
d. CSC should rethink how and to whom Elders report.
e. CSC should ensure Elder insights are properly reflected an integrated into case management records and decisions.
The role of Indigenous Elders in the traditional healing and teachings of First Nations, Metis and Inuit offenders is essential. CSC continues to take actions to improve Elder services including engagement with Indigenous communities across the country on building CSC’s capacity for First Nations, Metis and Inuit Elders to provide culturally responsive interventions and support services to offenders.
The current rate of pay for Elders is based on a level that is consistent with Chaplains and is reviewed annually for cost-of-living increases.
Subsequent to the completion of the Management Action Plan responding to the Audit of the Management of Elder Services (August 2022), and the completed report from Acosys Consulting Services Inc. (Fall 2023), the Deputy Commissioner Indigenous Corrections will propose potential changes to the procurement and compensation packages for the Elders providing services in CSC to CSC’s Executive Committee in Winter of 2023-2024. The proposals will include input from the national consultations with Elders, which will occur in Fall 2023.
CSC is limited in its capacity to offer benefits through the current procurement methodology (contracts) and provision of these benefits could result in an employer/employee relationship, which may compromise the autonomy of the Elders. However, options for benefits will be fully investigated and may form part of the proposals outlined in subsection a.
Financial legislation and policy regarding contractual limitations must be adhered to and clear statements of work must support contractual arrangements. The Elders Statement of Work was revised /simplified over five years ago to meet the spirit of this recommendation. Having said this, statements of work will form part of the proposals outlined in subsection a.
CSC is also currently undertaking a review of Commissioner’s Directive CD – 702 Indigenous Offenders includes direction on the role of the Elder providing services to CSC and how CSC is to support the Elder. The updated CD will provide clear direction regarding supporting Elders in documenting progress made with offenders though cultural interventions.
CSC is currently exploring options to ensure that functional leadership and support is provided at all sites for all Elders. The reporting relationship will form part of the proposals outlined in subsection a.
CSC is committed to ensuring that Elder insights are properly reflected and integrated into an offender’s Correctional Plan and decisions. Indigenous Social History (ISH) training is included in the initial training for Parole Officers and is also a component of the Indigenous Intervention Centres (IIC) training.
In 2018, CSC developed the Indigenous Social History Tool that provides guidance on how to consider ISH in case management practices, recommendations and decisions for Indigenous offenders.
Indigenous Intergenerational trauma and its impact on Indigenous offender rehabilitation was included in the Parole Officer Continuous Development 2019-2020 training. CSC also collaborated with KAIROS Canada in 2019 to facilitate Train-the-Trainer sessions, which resulted in CSC staff being certified in the KAIROS Blanket Exercise. This training better positions staff to understand the impacts and to make trauma informed recommendations and decisions, ensuring that the ISH is appropriately considered.
In December 2021, CSC introduced an automatic Bring Forward into the Offender Management System (OMS) to alert the Parole Officer when Elder Reviews are completed to ensure that the Elder’s insights are reflected and integrated into the Correctional Plan.
Foundations for Indigenous Corrections (FIC) is a new mandatory training for all non-Correctional Officer (CX) staff focusing on knowledge of Indigenous history and culturally specific considerations, including the implementation of ISH considerations when working with Indigenous offenders.
I recommend that CSC integrate Elders within CSC's leadership and governance structures, respectful of Elder autonomy and independence with the same reverence, recognition, and status accorded Elders in Indigenous communities.
CSC takes the role of Elders very seriously. This recognition is based on respect for their traditional teachings and healing of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit offenders. Given the policy requirement to comply with employer-contractor relationship, CSC must facilitate the involvement of Elders in case management and intervention practices with greater sensitivity to the contracting policy.
Recent CSC Actions:
The Deputy Commissioner Indigenous Corrections is considering options/revisions of current Elder model and governance structure to ensure that Elders and Elder interventions are afforded the importance, the recognition and, where appropriate, the autonomy they require.
Timelines: Fall of 2024.
I recommend that CSC develop a standardized onboarding training for Elders that outlines the expectations, rules, and reporting practices of CSC. CSC should work to reduce the gaps and differences between institutions and their practices towards Elders. This could include the development of national guidelines or policies when working with Elders, as well as peer support.
Proper and timely orientation of Elders on the operations of CSC and its case management practices is essential to effectively fulfilling their duties. CSC will continue to ensure that Elders are provided with timely and detailed on-board into CSC to support the exercise of their duties.
Recent CSC Actions:
CSC has a standardized onboarding process for all Elders under contract with CSC. This onboarding process is clearly detailed in the Contracting Guidelines for Elders and includes a formal Elder Orientation (approximately 10 days) and site specific onboarding with the support of an existing CSC Elder (approximately one month). This is all supported through ongoing advice and guidance regarding Elder engagement at the regional and national level from Regional Elders Councils and the National Elders Working Group.
Next Steps and Timeline: Spring of 2025.
The Deputy Commissioner Indigenous Corrections will implement a revised Elder Orientation manual and ensure ongoing accessibility of information to Elders and staff.
I recommend that CSC provide Elders with appropriate, prioritized and dedicated indoor and outdoor spaces to conduct ceremonies and programs and for confidential counselling as part of their conditions of work. Elders should maintain control over all items used for cultural and spiritual ceremony, including sacred medicines. For greater clarity, CSC should not interfere with Indigenous peoples' right to ownership, control, access, and possession (OCAP) of Indigenous intellectual property, including curriculum, ceremony and knowledge shared by Elders as part of their work with CSC.
CSC supports the right to ownership, control, access and possession of ceremonial and traditional knowledge shared by Elders as part of their work with CSC.
Recent CSC Actions:
As part of CSC’s Capital Program of Work, investments of approximately $25M have been made, or are planned, to support infrastructure improvements directly related to the provision of spiritual and cultural interventions. These include Joliette Institution for Women, Archambault, La Macaza, Bath and Grande Cache Institutions as well as the Edmonton Institution for Women. Of note, in November 2022, the Indigenous Programs Building at La Macaza Institution received the Engagement and Partnerships with Indigenous Peoples Award from the Real Property Institute of Canada.
Next Steps and Timelines: In 2023-2024, Technical Services will be conducting a national review of all CSC sites to identify any gaps in indoor and outdoor spaces to facilitate the provision of spiritual support and ceremonies. This report will be finalized by Spring of 2024. Additionally, CSC is updating CD 702 – Indigenous Offenders, to address the need for Elders to maintain control over all items used for cultural and spiritual ceremony, including sacred medicines.
I recommend that CSC ensure that all staff undergo mandatory an annual indigenous cultural safety and awareness training, provided by an external agency. Training should recognize the diversity among First Nations, Métis and Inuit to avoid perpetuating pan-Indigenous assumptions.
Fostering awareness and training among CSC staff is essential to the services and interventions CSC provides to Indigenous offenders. CSC is committed to ensuring that culturally responsive training and awareness is available to employees in order to adequately support the healing and reintegration of Indigenous offenders.
Recent CSC Actions:
CSC provides its staff mandatory training called the Foundations for Indigenous Corrections. It is a mandatory learning requirement for Correctional Training Program recruits and all new staff, including managers and supervisors. The training is delivered by Elders and Spiritual Advisors, through a teaching, sharing and/or learning circle. Also, the Foundations for Indigenous Corrections is reflective of the diversity of the Indigenous nations, languages, and experience. It facilitates learning through a culturally safe and cultural environment, nurtures respectful behaviours and is inclusive of different cultures and identities. This approach imparts cultural teaching, in translating oral tradition and history, sacred protocols, and experiential activities (land-based). It creates time and space for the Elders and Spiritual Advisors to share knowledge to aid, assist and enhance others' understanding.
I recommend that CSC report yearly and publicly on measurable performance indicators, results and outcomes to reduce Indigenous over-representation in federal corrections. These indicators and outcomes should be co-developed with Indigenous stakeholders, including Elders and community leaders, and reflect Indigenous concepts of healing and progress.
Part of CSC’s commitment to Truth and Reconciliation is the co-development of interventions and support services for Indigenous offenders. CSC will continue to work with Indigenous Peoples to develop culturally responsive interventions and support for First Nations, Metis and Inuit Peoples.
Recent CSC Actions:
In 2022-2023, Indigenous men admissions represented 33.1% (2,154/6,501) of men admitted to federal custody up from 10-years earlier (2012-2013) at 26.4%. In 2022-2023, Indigenous women admissions represented 48.6% (237/488) of women admitted to federal custody up from 10-years earlier (2012-2013) at 37.1%. These rates, which are outside the purview of CSC, must be considered when discussing the level of representation of indigenous offenders and their correctional results.
CSC routinely reports information on public safety outcomes using the automated Performance Direct (PD) system. PD standardizes the historical reporting of two important metrics: 1) the number of offenders successfully reaching sentence completion without readmission (no revocations, no charges or reconvictions), and 2) the number of offenders not returning to federal custody within five years of sentence expiration.
Performance outcomes over a ten-year period (2011-12 to 2020-2021) were examined for the entire federal offender population and the Indigenous and Non-Indigenous populations separately. Statistics show that the number and percentage of Indigenous offenders on conditional release successfully reaching sentence expiration date has increased over the past ten years (38.7% in 2011-2012 and 44.9% in 2020-2021). In addition, the number and percentage of Indigenous offenders not readmitted to federal custody within five years of sentence expiry date (SED) has increased over the past ten years (75.0% in 2011-2012 and 80.6% in 2020-2021).
Next Steps and Timelines: CSC will continue to review and update its approach to corporate reporting, including the Indigenous Corrections Accountability Framework (ICAF) and CSC Corporate Reports (Departmental Report, Departmental Results Report) to ensure that performance indicators are positioned to report on addressing the over-representation of Indigenous peoples in federal corrections.
- Date modified: