Public Safety Responses to Recommendations in the Structured Intervention Unit Implementation Advisory Panel Annual Report 2021-2022

Responses to Recommendations

“9.1: To establish IEDMS as truly independent of both PS and CSC, a structure must be created to ensure Senior IEDMs have both administrative and supervisory responsibilities for IEDM operations, reviews and decisions, and Senior IEDMs have access to and spending authority for a budget to cover expenses for travel, legal advice, research, and annual report preparation. The first step in the implementation of this recommendation must be an arms-length review of IEDM appointments, operations, organizational structure, and decision-making processes and procedures.” (Page 97).

PS Response

Through the establishment of an external oversight mechanism, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) provides a critical safeguard on the operation and legislative compliance of SIUs. IEDMs across the country operate at arms-length from CSC to provide decision-making oversight of an inmate’s conditions and duration of confinement in a SIU. They serve to monitor and review inmate cases on an ongoing basis, and provide recommendations and binding decisions to CSC on SIU placements.

PS is fully committed to the independence and effectiveness of IEDMs so that that they may continue to provide this vital oversight function. This includes ensuring that they have the necessary capacity, resources, and organizational structure to successfully carry out their role as envisioned by the CCRA. PS has maintained an ongoing dialogue with IEDMs in order to understand their challenges and concerns, and to determine potential improvements.

In consultation with IEDMs, PS is currently exploring measures which would grant Senior IEDMs greater administrative and supervisory responsibilities, including with respect to IEDM operations, as well as reviews and decisions. Further measures are also being considered to provide Senior IEDMs with more independent control over expenses for travel, legal advice, research, and annual report preparation. This work is being informed by an external study already completed for the Department that assessed alternative models for supporting IEDMs that could enhance their independence.

Recognizing that a comprehensive parliamentary review of changes brought about through Bill C-83, including the establishment of IEDMs, is already required in 2023, PS will explore whether an additional arms-length review would provide further insight into ways of increasing the effectiveness and independence of the IEDM role.

“9.2: Clear job descriptions for IEDMS, including a statement of work and required key competencies, must be developed prior to the appointment of IEDMS. IEDM compensation should clearly relate to the details in the job description and allow for vacation leave, training, and sick leave. The number of IEDMS should immediately be adjusted to meet the workload experienced during the first 2.5 years of SIU operation.”

PS Response

Since 2019, a diverse and qualified group of IEDMs have been appointed from across the country, each bringing their own expertise and experience to the role. These appointees include lawyers, professors, and researchers specializing in the fields of criminal justice, mental health, vulnerable populations, human rights, and administrative law. However, PS concurs that it is important to more clearly outline key competencies and a statement of work for all IEDMs, regardless of individual differences in expertise and experience.

PS is committed to ensuring that IEDMs continue to be appropriately qualified and representative, that the duties of their role are clearly defined, and that they are compensated fairly for the unique challenges required of the position. As ministerial appointees, IEDMs are currently eligible for 4 weeks of vacation or sick leave per year without a reduction in pay, along with paid training opportunities. PS and IEDMs are engaged in an ongoing dialogue on ways of further enhancing their terms of appointment. This includes increasing clarity with respect to their competencies, duties, vacation leave, training and sick leave, and developing clearer job descriptions for the position.

PS also recognizes the importance of a manageable workload for IEDMs to carry out their role effectively. With the benefit of information gained over the first three years of the IEDM role’s existence, PS intends to conduct an analysis of IEDM workload capacity with a view of determining if a change to the total number of IEDMs is warranted.

“9.3: In anticipation of the mandated 5-year review of Bill C-83 changes, PS should immediately consult with IEDMs and other stakeholders to assist in the drafting of amendments that will eliminate overlapping and co-occurring reviews, provide guidance about what information IEDMs must review prior to rendering a decision, clearly establish IEDM decisions as binding and IEDMs as fully independent of CSC, legislate time frames for CSC compliance, and require that written decisions follow a standard format.”

PS Response

In November 2019, the amendments to the CCRA established by Bill C-83 came into force, implementing the new SIU model and abolishing the use of administrative and disciplinary segregation in all federal correctional institutions. The new model that was created is fundamentally different from the previous model, and initiated an historic transformation of the federal correctional system. Since that time, PS and CSC have remained strongly committed to the success of this new model. The realization of that success, particularly when it has involved such transformative change, requires getting advice from stakeholders and make adjustments as necessary. To this end, PS will consider any amendments or revisions to policy which supports the original objectives of Bill C-83 and the effectiveness of the SIU model, including measures that would strengthen the vital oversight function provided by IEDMs.

PS concurs that any redundant IEDM reviews – such as any which may “overlap” or “co-occur” – run counter to the objective of effective IEDM oversight of SIUs. Accordingly, PS will continue to engage IEDMs and other stakeholders to identify possible policy changes to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of IEDM reviews, including consulting on any potential regulatory amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Regulations (CCRR). Regulatory changes to the CCRR will also be explored that seek to clarify what information IEDMs are to review prior to rendering a decision, reinforce the principle of IEDM independence from CSC, reiterate that IEDM decisions are binding, and establish clearer timeframes for CSC compliance with IEDM decisions.

PS also agrees with the recommendation that IEDM decisions follow a standard format. The Department is already in the process of contracting an external and independent consultant to develop standards for the format of IEDM decisions.

“9.4: The Corrections and Conditional Release Act be amended to establish more timely and enforceable reviews and orders regarding length of SIU placements.”

PS Response

As noted above, PS remains strongly committed to the success of the SIU model. Any policy changes that would serve to strengthen it, including the oversight function of the IEDMs, will be considered. Where such opportunities exist, and following careful deliberation, analysis, and engagement with stakeholders, PS will explore all available policy tools to enhance the timeliness and effectives of IEDM decisions. If necessary, this may ultimately involve proposing amendments to the CCRA.

As referenced in the report, a parliamentary committee is required by the provisions of Bill C-83 to conduct a comprehensive review after five years of its coming into force and to submit a report and any recommendations to Parliament within the year thereafter. While this legislated parliamentary review certainly does not exclude amending the SIU provisions of the CCRA in the interim, it does serve to establish a valuable milestone for review and potential amendment. At this five-year interval, sufficient data and analysis of Bill C-83’s changes are likely to be available in order to inform Parliament’s recommendations and any possible amendments.

“13.3: Ministerial monitoring and public reporting of progress against the CSC Commissioner’s Mandate Letter Priorities should be in place.”

PS Response

In 2018, the Government and the Minister of Public Safety took the unprecedented step of publishing mandate letters for deputy heads within the PS Portfolio, marking the first time that a CSC Commissioner had received a public mandate. This decision was, and remains, in line with the Government’s commitment to accountability and transparency. All mandate letters provide a transparent account of what the Minister expects of individual organizations within the PS Portfolio, and deputy heads are accountable to the Minister for their progress. However, the Minister ultimately remains accountable to Parliament, the Prime Minister, and all Canadians for the activities of these individual organizations. Further, Departmental Plans and Departmental Results Reports are tabled each fiscal year for all departments and agencies, in which actual results and progress are reported to Parliament and subject to the oversight of parliamentary committees.

With the most recent mandate letter, published in May 2022, the Government of Canada and the Minister provided clear direction to the CSC Commissioner on their priorities and vision, including an emphasis on effective rehabilitation, reducing recidivism, addressing sexual violence and coercion in prisons, and improving the outcomes and reducing the overrepresentation of Black, Indigenous, and other racialized offenders. It also stressed the importance of continuing to ensure the effective operation of SIUs.

The Minister and deputy heads, including the CSC Commissioner, meet regularly and hold ongoing discussions on the work that organizations have undertaken on their mandate letter commitments. The Minister closely monitors progress during these discussions and, in turn, will continue to keep Parliament and Canadians apprised.

“14.1: Prior to the end of the current Panel’s mandate, the Minister’s Office should develop a plan to transition the Panel from implementation oversight to ongoing operational oversight. This plan should address the need for dedicated administrative support available to the Chair and Panel members, timely appointment of Panel members, spending authority for legal, research, and report preparation expenses, and, how to best integrate the Panel into the broader matrix of Public Safety oversight and assurance provision.”

PS Response

In July 2021, the Minister of Public Safety announced the renewal of the SIU-IAP and the appointment of a new Chair for a period of two years. Both during the original panel’s mandate and during the renewed mandate, the SIU-IAP has provided welcomed and beneficial advice, oversight and recommendations which continue to shape the implementation and operation of SIUs. PS is grateful for the work of the SIU-IAP, and will continue to support its important role for the duration of its mandate.

More broadly, PS continues to recognize the value provided by external perspectives on the SIU model. In addition to the SIU-IAP, this has also included important contributions from IEDMs, external stakeholders, Parliament and the Office of the Correctional Investigator. As lessons continue to be learned about the SIU model, and consideration is given to enhancements, PS looks forward to continuing to hear diverse perspectives and advice in the months and years ahead.

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