The Parole Board of Canada (PBC or Board) Appeal Division contributes to the quality of the Board's decision-making process, and to the openness, professionalism and accountability of conditional release decisions.
The role of the Appeal Division is to ensure that:
- The law and Board policy are respected;
- The rules of fundamental justice are adhered to; and
- The Board's decisions are based upon relevant, reliable and persuasive information.
An offender, or a person acting on their behalf, may appeal a Board decision by sending a completed “Appeal of PBC Decision” form, along with a written notice stating the grounds for the appeal (as well as supporting documents) within *two (2) months after the decision of the Board. The appeal process begins when the initial appeal submission is received. The appeal is conducted by way of a file review. *Please note that the time limit to submit an appeal has been temporarily extended from two (2) to three (3) months in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Role of the Appeal Division
The role of the Appeal Division is to ensure that the law and the PBC's policies are respected, that the rules of fundamental justice are followed and that the PBC’s decisions are based upon relevant, reliable, and persuasive information.
An offender or a person acting on behalf of an offender can appeal to the Appeal Division if they want to challenge the PBC's decision of their conditional release. The Appeal Division then reviews the decision-making process to ensure that the offender's rights have been respected.
The Appeal Division has jurisdiction to re-assess the issue of risk to reoffend and to substitute its discretion for that of the original decision makers, but only where it finds that the Board's decision was unfounded, and unsupported by the information available at the time the decision was made.
In accordance with the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA), an offender may appeal a decision of the PBC to the Appeal Division on the grounds that the Board, in making its decision, either:
- failed to observe a principle of fundamental justice;
- made an error of law;
- breached or failed to apply a policy adopted pursuant to subsection 151(2);
- based its decision on erroneous or incomplete information;
- acted without jurisdiction or beyond its jurisdiction, or failed to exercise its jurisdiction.
Furthermore, in accordance with section 147(2) of the CCRA, the Vice-Chairperson of the Appeal Division may refuse to hear an appeal, without causing a full review of the case to be undertaken.
Below are the instances where, in the opinion of the Vice-Chairperson, the appeal may not be heard:
- If the appeal is frivolous or vexatious. This includes unfounded arguments and grounds, and any kind of inappropriate or aggressive language.
- If the relief sought is beyond the jurisdiction of the Board. This includes appeal submissions solely based on complaints about Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) staff or procedures.
- If the appeal is based on information, or on a new conditional release plan, that was not before the PBC when it rendered its decision. This includes appeal submissions based solely on new information or documentation from the CSC that was generated after the decision.
- If at the time the notice of appeal is received by the Appeal Division, the offender has 90 days or less to serve before being released from imprisonment.
Decisions that can be appealed
An offender may appeal a decision that involves the following types of conditional release:
- Day and/or full parole denied.
- Revocation of day parole, full parole or statutory release.
- The imposition of special conditions on day parole, full parole, or statutory release. This includes the conditions on a 'day or full parole granted' decision or on a 'day or full parole continued' decision.
- Unescorted temporary absences (UTA) or escorted temporary absences (ETA) not authorized.
- Accelerated parole reviews, panel hearings only.
- Detention reviews.
Decisions that cannot be appealed
- When the offender is within 90 days of their Statutory Release Date or Warrant Expiry Date. This includes the Early Release Date for provincial offenders.
- The appeal submission is received more than *two (2) months after the PBC rendered its decision. However, the Vice-Chairperson of the Appeal Division may provide an extension if requested. *Please note that the time limit to submit an appeal has been temporarily extended from two (2) to three (3) months in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The appeal is moot. A new decision has been rendered subsequent to the Board’s decision that is being appealed.
- The offender’s conditional release was suspended, and the PBC has not yet rendered its decision on the suspension.
- The appeal is premature. This occurs when the Board imposes a special condition that was not recommended by the Correctional Services of Canada and the appeal is received within 30 days of the Board’s decision. Therefore, the submission will be redirected to the regional office of the PBC for its decision.
- Accelerated parole reviews decisions (rendered by file review) as they usually imply a hearing in the three (3) months that follow.
- Long-Term Supervision Orders (LTSO) as the offender is no longer under the jurisdiction of the Parole Board of Canada.
- The location of a residency condition on any type of conditional release, as this falls under CSC's jurisdiction.
How to submit an appeal
The offender, or a person acting on their behalf, can appeal a PBC decision related to conditional release by sending a completed "Appeal of PBC Decision" form, along with a written notice stating the grounds for the appeal (as well as supporting documents).
A completed "Appeal of PBC Decision" form, along with the written notice must be sent to the PBC's Appeal Division in Ottawa within *two (2) months after the decision of the Board.
The form must state the valid grounds of appeal and must include all supporting information. The "Appeal of PBC Decision form" may also be obtained from the offender's Case Management Team.
The appeal process begins when the initial appeal submission is received. *Please note that the time limit to submit an appeal has been temporarily extended from two (2) to three (3) months in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The appeal form can be submitted to the Appeal Division by:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fax: 613-941-0543
- Mail: Appeal Division, 410 Laurier Ave. West, 7th floor, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R1
Grounds of appeal
The five (5) acceptable grounds for appeal outlined in the CCRA are as follows:
- Failure to observe a principle of fundamental justice. This ground includes any concerns regarding the fairness of the PBC's procedures. For example:
- whether the Board properly shared information used for the review;
- whether the right to an assistant was respected at the hearing;
- whether the choice of the offender’s official language was respected.
The appeal submission must specify how the Board did not respect its duty to act fairly.
- An error of law. This ground includes any concern that the PBC did not follow or misinterpreted the law. For example, if the offender believes the PBC did not follow a section of the CCRA, their appeal submission must state the part of the Act that was not followed. The appeal submission must specify the nature of the error to the extent possible.
- Breach or failure to apply a policy adopted pursuant to subsection 151(2). The appeal submission must precisely state the PBC policy that was not followed by the Board in its decision.
- Decision based on erroneous or incomplete information. This ground includes but is not limited to:
- any concern that relevant information was missing;
- the Board made errors about the relevant information available; or
- the Board did not consider relevant, reliable, and persuasive information in its risk assessment.
Relevant information refers to information that the Board members determine to be important to an offender’s risk assessment. Relevant information will also be assessed in its reliability and its persuasiveness before the Board assigns it any weight in its deliberations.
- PBC acted without jurisdiction or beyond its jurisdiction, or failed to exercise its jurisdiction. This ground includes any concern about the PBC either rendering decisions it did not have the authority to make, or not making decisions that the law said that it could make. It also involves any complaint that the PBC decision is unreasonable or unsupported by the information available. The appeal submission must state precisely what the error was, and if arguing that the decision is unreasonable, an explanation on why the PBC's conclusions are unfounded is required.
Appeal Division Decision Outcomes
The types of decisions that may be rendered by the Appeal Division are listed in subsection 147(4) of the CCRA and include the following:
- Affirming the decision. The Board's decision being appealed was made according to law and policy, and therefore the Appeal Division does not need to intervene.
- Affirming the decision but ordering a further review of the case by the Board on a date earlier than the date otherwise provided for the next review. The Board’s decision being appealed was made appropriately, but the Appeal Division recommends that the Board render a new decision of the offender’s conditional release earlier than originally stated.
- Order a new review of the case by the Board, and order the continuation of the decision pending the review. The Board’s decision being appealed warranted an intervention from the Appeal Division. This decision outcome can only change the initial Board decision once the new decision has been made, and does not guarantee that the outcome of the new decision will be different.
- Reverse, cancel or vary the decision. The Board’s decision being appealed is quashed. It can also include cancelling parole. Varying a decision can include modifying special conditions, whether it is to remove, add or modify the wording of said condition.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can submit an appeal? Who can be a representative?
The offender or a person acting on their behalf can submit an appeal. The offender’s representative can be a family member, friend, lawyer, community support, or another person approved by the offender. Only one person can be identified as a representative.
How to contact the Appeal Division?
The Appeal Division can be contacted by:
- Email at email@example.com,
- Fax at 613-941-0543 or
- Mail at Appeal Division, 410 Laurier Ave. West, 7th floor, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R1
The Appeal Division does not respond to telephone inquiries.
Can provincial offenders appeal a decision?
- Provincial offenders from the following regions can submit an appeal of a Board decision, as they do not operate their own provincial parole board: Atlantic, Prairies and Pacific.
- Quebec and Ontario provincial offenders cannot appeal a parole board decision to the Appeal Division of the PBC, as these provinces have their own provincial parole boards.
Can an offender send their request to the Appeal Division to have conditions or special conditions amended or removed?
Only if the appeal submission is based on one of the five (5) grounds of appeal above. If an offender wants a condition amended because they do not agree with it, they must redirect their request to their Case Management Team, who, if in agreement, will generate a new document for the PBC to review and render a new decision.
How many Appeal Division Board members render the decision?
A panel of two Board members will conduct the review of an offender appeal.
How is the review conducted?
The review is conducted by way of a file review and includes, where applicable, a review of the audio-recording of the hearing.
How long does it take the Appeal Division to make a decision?
There is no timeframe indicated in the law for the Appeal Division to make a decision. Appeal submissions will be reviewed in the order in which they are received. Generally, the Appeal Division renders its decision within four (4) months.
Is the Appeal Division’s decision final?
The Appeal Division decision is the final recourse within the PBC. If an offender wants to pursue an appeal of the decision, they, or their representative, may seek Judicial Review of this decision at the Federal Court within the time prescribed at subsection 18.1(2) of the Federal Courts Act.
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