Operating context

From: Parole Board of Canada 

Official title: Parole Board of Canada 2018-19 Departmental Plan, Operating context

The Parole Board of Canada (PBC) works in a dynamic environment that demands careful assessment of criminal justice issues and community concerns to ensure alignment with the Government of Canada’s outcome of a safe and secure Canada. Public safety remains the PBC’s primary consideration in all aspects of decision-making policy, training, and operations.

The PBC delivers core responsibilities grounded in legislation: conditional release, and record suspension and clemency. The PBC also manages a range of internal services that provide critical support for the delivery of core responsibilities. The conditional release area is the largest and accounts for approximately three-quarters of gross annual program expenditures (including conditional release, and openness and accountability). 

The PBC proactively works with its criminal justice partners to coordinate, oversee and analyze legislative amendments and government initiatives, specifically in relation to its conditional release and record suspension programs. The PBC anticipates that the Criminal Justice System Review may result in legislative change for the record suspension program.

In addition, with the disproportionate number of Indigenous offenders in federal corrections, the PBC works to ensure that Indigenous offenders are aware of our programs and that there are no systemic barriers to Indigenous involvement in these areas. The PBC continues to work with stakeholders to support the reintegration of Indigenous offenders in the community and address the needs of Indigenous victims.

Conditional Release

The PBC's workloads are shaped by many factors, some of which are beyond its control. Legislation governing the PBC (i.e. the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA)) is prescriptive, specifying when and how the PBC conducts its business (e.g. when a review is required by law; and when to use hearings). In addition, workloads are driven by the actions of offenders, victims and the community. In concrete terms, this means that the PBC must deal with high workload volumes, involving issues critical to public safety, under tight timeframes, amid intense public scrutiny.

As part of the openness and accountability core responsibility, the PBC:

  • shares information with victims of crime;
  • provides information and assistance to those who wish to observe PBC hearings or gain access to the PBC's Decision Registry; and
  • communicates information to the public.

Record Suspension and Clemency

The PBC’s record suspension/pardon program is also shaped by factors beyond its control. Legislation governing the PBC’s work (i.e. the Criminal Records Act (CRA)) is prescriptive, specifying precisely how it conducts its business (e.g. admissibility). In addition, workloads are also driven by fluctuating volumes of requests for record suspensions. In concrete terms, this means that the PBC must deal with varying workload volumes, involving issues critical to public safety, under legislatively established timeframes (i.e. Service Fees Act (SFA)) and amid intense public scrutiny.

Since February 2012, applicants for a record suspension/pardon must pay a processing fee of $631. Consequently, the PBC must adhere to established service standards prescribed by requirements of the SFA.

Since 2010, and more significantly further to the legislative changes brought forth in 2012, the PBC has seen constant growth in clemency requests. In order to minimize the impact of this increase, human resource strategies and streamlined processes have been adopted and better investigation strategies are being used.

Strategic Resource Management

The PBC must continue to address the need for strategic management of human, financial, security, and information and technology resources to support quality program delivery. The PBC is committed to ensuring a strong, diverse and dynamic workforce that excels in delivering the PBC’s mandate to Canadians, today and in the years to come.

A key challenge for the PBC is to stabilize its workforce and strengthen succession planning in relation to both its Board members and its public service staff. It is essential for the PBC to maintain sufficient numbers of Board members, who are Governor-in-Council term appointments. The CCRA specifies that the PBC will be comprised of no more than 60 full-time Board members, and provides for the appointment of part-time members to help manage fluctuating conditional release decision-making workloads. The PBC continues to work with key partners to identify sufficient numbers of qualified candidates for consideration for selection as Board members. The PBC also provides training and mentoring to ensure that Board members have the knowledge they need to adhere to legislation and regulations, and assess risk in their decision-making.

In addition, departures of experienced public service staff have a significant impact as they erode corporate memory and diminish critical knowledge of law, policy, and training. The effect of this is especially acute in a small organization. Staff provide the continuity of knowledge and information essential for support and delivery of programs. As such, the PBC has developed and continues to update its human resources plan for dealing with staff turnover.

Timely access to relevant information provides the foundation for quality conditional release and record suspension decision-making and clemency recommendations, and ultimately for the PBC’s continuing contribution to public safety. In addition, the PBC must deal with legislated responsibilities for sharing information with victims of crime, offenders, criminal justice partners, media and the public. In this environment, strategic information management is crucial, requiring the PBC to have the automated systems necessary to support effective collection, storage and sharing of information. Additionally, the PBC must have in place the policies and procedures necessary to ensure effective information management. Progress in these areas requires the assistance of the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), the PBC’s information technology service provider.

For the foreseeable future, the PBC will face complex and growing workload pressures in areas of legislated responsibility. For this reason, strong strategic management of financial resources is essential in order to closely monitor impacts and identify opportunities to reallocate and re-invest in the PBC’s core responsibilities are in line with changing priorities.

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