Minister Mendicino welcomes the Office of the Correctional Investigator’s annual report
Ottawa – November 1, 2022 – Today, the Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety, issued the following statement:
“I thank the Office of the Correctional Investigator (OCI) for their meticulous work on the 2021-2022 Annual Report. As the Ombudsman for federal offenders, the Correctional Investigator plays an important role in our correctional system. The recommendations help Canada’s federal correctional system remain safe, humane and effective – ensuring it can protect our communities while helping inmates rehabilitate and safely reintegrate back into the community.
The Government of Canada has responded to the recommendations in the report, and the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) will continue to work with the OCI and a range of partners to apply them. Indeed, there is already extensive work underway on many of the issues the report raises. In particular, I’d like to highlight our efforts on three of them: the overrepresentation of Black and Indigenous offenders, the use of dry cells and mental wellness among inmates.
Combatting systemic racism across government, including in our justice system, is one of our top priorities. My mandate letter from the Prime Minister includes clear instructions to “address systemic racism and the overrepresentation of Black and racialized Canadians and Indigenous Peoples in the justice system.” In turn, CSC Commissioner Anne Kelly’s mandate letter from me outlines several areas that need work. This will build on the many important steps we’ve already taken to address the overrepresentation of Black and Indigenous (particularly) women offenders – including introducing Bill C-5 to address harmful mandatory minimum sentences, developing an Indigenous-informed security classification process, creating the new position of Deputy Commissioner for Indigenous Corrections (a previous OCI recommendation) and implementing CSC’s Anti-Racism Framework and Actions. In addition, the fee for a record suspension (pardon) has been reduced to 50$, improving access to record suspensions, especially for people with lower incomes.
When it comes to dry cells, I recently issued a directive to minimize and better regulate their use, ensuring that CSC employs the least restrictive measures possible and considers the safety of both inmates and staff. We are also currently in the process of developing regulations to supplement the Corrections and Conditional Release Act on the use of dry cells and body scanners. Finally, when it comes to mental health, Commissioner Kelly’s mandate letter includes specific instructions to “reduce the use of SIUs for offenders dealing with mental health challenges through the provision of increased mental health services.” I look forward to seeing CSC step up efforts to support the mental wellness of inmates.
I look forward to working closely with CSC to ensure progress is made on the issues identified in this report to improve our federal correctional system. All offenders must be able to serve their sentences with dignity and without fear, in an environment that supports rehabilitation and prepares them to reintegrate into Canadian society.
Office of the Minister of Public Safety
Public Safety Canada
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