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(f) Managing Distinct Populations

In this section, we focus on the management of three distinct populations—Women Offenders, Aboriginal Offenders and Ethnocultural Offenders. We review and comment on the recommendations contained in 'Moving Forward with Women's Corrections' (Glube), and examine the distinct needs of Aboriginal and Ethnocultural offenders.

(i) Women Offenders

The Glube Report

The CSC Review Panel carefully considered the recommendations of the report, Moving Forward with Women's Corrections, submitted by the Expert Committee chaired by the former Chief Justice of Nova Scotia, Constance Glube, and CSC's response to these recommendations.

The detailed observations and recommendations of the Panel are found under the section entitled, "Roadmap for Change—Change in Operating Model."

(ii) Aboriginal Offenders

The Realities of Crime

In June 2006, the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics21 presented a picture of the realities for Aboriginal people and their communities. Specifically, young people aged 15 to 34 experience violent victimization 2½ times more frequently than those aged 35 or older; on-reserve crime rates were about three times higher than crime rates elsewhere in Canada, and violent crime rates were significantly higher; rates of spousal violence were 3½ times higher than for non-Aboriginals; and Aboriginal people were 10 times more likely than non-Aboriginals to be accused of homicide related to alcohol and/or drug consumption. The report suggested that social disruption, particularly on reserve, will remain a significant challenge.

Socio-economic Realities

Census data suggest that Aboriginal people continue to migrate away from rural and nonreserve areas to large urban centres.

Social marginalization, particularly in large urban centres, will continue to be a barrier to addressing disparities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians, but even more so for Aboriginal offenders after release.

Most reserve communities will remain focused on socio-economic conditions such as clean water, health, housing, and education to support economic development.

Key Federal Initiatives

At the federal level, the public service is reorganizing to manage issues horizontally through new decision-making structures. The Aboriginal Horizontal Framework is providing an accountability mechanism to link the federal programs and services to Aboriginal Canadians across all 34 departments, and therefore improve integration and maximize the utilization of resources. An Aboriginal Programs and Spending Web site provides more accessible information for Canadians to enhance the understanding of the diversity of initiatives across government.

In Budget 2006, the Government announced a commitment to work with First Nations communities to develop "workable solutions" to the issues they are facing. Commitments were made to move more quickly on self-government arrangements and agreements-inprinciple for the transfer of federal programs and services. These changes have the potential to impact directly on how CSC manages existing agreements with Aboriginal communities (as defined in the CCRA) for the operation of healing lodges.

In May 2006, the Government announced a healing-based resolution framework to renew and rebuild relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians. The current focus of this initiative is completing the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement to provide compensation to former students. The second component, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, has a five-year mandate to focus on the effects and consequences of the residential schools experience, including individual and systemic harms, intergenerational consequences, and the impact on human dignity. CSC is working with Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada, Health Canada and Service Canada to ensure that former students who are incarcerated are aware of their rights and have every opportunity to participate in the settlement agreement.

With respect to Northern Corrections, it should be noted that, particularly with respect to Inuit offenders that:

The CSC Model

A Continuum of Care Model, adopted by CSC in 2003, provides the framework to integrate traditional Aboriginal approaches to healing within the CSC policy framework. The Strategic Plan for Aboriginal Corrections (2006-11) responds to the needs and aspirations of Aboriginal people within the CCRA. It is based on the following strategic priority: "to enhance capacities to provide effective interventions for First Nations, Métis and Inuit offenders." National Aboriginal organizations have expressed their support for the plan. However, the Panel was told that the lack of resources has restricted its full implementation.

The Panel is of the view that the issues and challenges regarding the Inuit are well understood by CSC. Progress on a "Northern Strategy" is not for lack of analysis, but rather action.

(iii) Ethnocultural Populations

CSC Policy

Since 1994, CSC's policy on ethnocultural offender programs has aimed to ensure that:

  1. the needs and cultural interests of offenders belonging to ethnocultural minority groups are identified; and
  2. programs and services are developed and maintained to meet those needs.

The policy stipulates, among other things, that racial harassment and discriminatory behaviour will not be tolerated. The placement of an offender will be determined on the basis of risk and the offender's needs identified in the correctional plan, and not on the basis of race, language, religion or ethnic origin. The policy requires regions to report annually on their performance against ethnocultural offender program objectives and on activities carried out in compliance with the Canadian Multiculturalism Act.

Since the development and implementation of this ethnocultural policy, progress has been made in addressing the needs of visible minority offenders. Progress can be seen through the creation of regional ethnocultural advisory committees, the Multiculturalism Award, and the recruitment of ethnically diverse staff that give institutions the internal cultural skills crucial to communication and intervention with ethnocultural minority offenders.

Ethnocultural Liaison Services

CSC has developed links with different community organizations to help address racism and racial discrimination. In addition, services by ethnoculturally trained workers are provided to help with cultural differences between offenders and case management personnel.

Religious Services

Religion, or spiritual beliefs and practices, is often the predominant indicator of one's culture and is therefore an important need to address. Religious customs vary widely and can be difficult to accommodate in penitentiary settings. To fulfil these requirements, CSC considers a number of factors, including traditional dress (e.g., turbans), religious diets (e.g., pork-free), sacred scriptures (e.g., the Koran), different days of worship, and access to a diversity of religious and/or spiritual leaders. CSC works closely with the Interfaith Committee on Chaplaincy, which provides crucial information on religions and multifaith calendars.

Linguistic Services

CSC policy guarantees the right to interpreter services for minority offenders who have difficulty speaking or understanding English or French, in quasi-judicial proceedings where the loss of liberty or privileges is at stake, e.g., disciplinary hearings and National Parole Board hearings.

(iv) Mental Health Population

Here, we review current mental health services in CSC, delivered in its penitentiaries and in the community.

The number of offenders admitted to CSC with identified mental health problems has been on the rise. In 2006, 12% of men offenders were identified at admission as having diagnosed mental health problems, an increase of 71% since 1997. For women, the 2006 rate was 21%, an increase of 61% since 1997. The Panel notes that mental health needs are two to three times more common among men federal offenders than among the general male population in Canada.

Incarcerated federal offenders are excluded from the Canada Health Act and their treatment is not covered by Health Canada or provincial/territorial health systems. Under the CCRA, CSC is responsible for the mental health of offenders, and must provide or obtain mental health care services in its penitentiaries and in the community for offenders under supervision.

Current Mental Health Services in CSC


CSC has 10 reception centres that assess the criminal behaviour of newly admitted men offenders, and develop correctional plans to address these behaviours. Five facilities for women offenders conduct similar assessments.

Apart from a pilot project at the reception centre in the Pacific region, no systematic effort is currently being made to screen offenders for mental disorders at admission, or to follow up with in-depth mental health assessments aimed at identifying treatment needs. This is unacceptable.

This was further noted to the Panel by Correctional Investigator Howard Sapers:

The actual number of offenders with significant [mental health] issues is likely underestimated as CSC's mental health screening and assessment on admission is inadequate.22

Comprehensive mental health screening and assessment is required to ensure that all offenders with mental health needs are identified before their correctional plans are developed and put into action. The lack of a comprehensive clinical assessment at admission delays diagnosis, effective treatment planning, and appropriate placement in a treatment program.

Although CSC has made some progress in moving to a more comprehensive process for mental health screening by streamlining existing measurement tools, the Panel believes that CSC's initiatives must be benchmarked with initiatives in place in other correctional jurisdictions. This benchmarking process should be the first step in an accelerated intake initiative to put in place a comprehensive and recognized assessment system, so that each offender would leave the intake assessment process with a correctional plan that maps out a treatment strategy that is fully integrated with programming activities addressing other behavioural and skills deficits.

Penitentiary Mental Health Care

Providing longer-term primary and intermediate mental health care institutions continues to be a challenge for CSC. Intermediate mental health care units are required for men offenders whose mental health problems are not severe enough to require in-patient care in a psychiatric facility, but who nevertheless need safe, structured environments that offer effective, supportive care.

Most penitentiaries have a limited number of psychologists on staff, and mental health care is usually limited to crisis intervention and suicide prevention. Psychologists spend a significant percentage of their time preparing risk assessments intended to assist the National Parole Board in making decisions regarding conditional release. The primary and intermediate mental health care provided to offenders is insufficient. Offenders with mental health problems usually do not receive appropriate treatment unless their needs reach crisis levels. Many are segregated for protection because of their inability to cope in regular penitentiary settings, and therefore they have limited access to programming or treatment.

As an initial response to this problem, interim funding was provided to CSC for 2007–09 to address some deficiencies. Areas to be addressed include the improvement of primary care in some CSC penitentiaries and staff training. Pilot testing initiatives such as telemedicine and telepsychiatry was identified as an alternative to the creation of intermediate care units, given the high capital costs associated with starting up these units, and the uncertainty of longer-term funding.

(g) Roadmap for Change—Change in Operating Model

The realities of the changing offender profile have created many future challenges for CSC, both inside and outside the walls. The Panel believes that a new core correctional model for operations both within the walls of a penitentiary and in the community must be implemented.

One important factor that should influence proposed changes in the operating model is that emphasis must be placed on the dual responsibilities and accountabilities of:

  1. the offender to earn parole by actively following the correctional plan; and
  2. CSC to provide the opportunities and tools required to support the offender in achieving the goals of the correctional plan.

Both of these must occur during incarceration and under conditional release in the community.

In this section, we identify a 'roadmap for change' to respond to the risks and needs of a changing offender population. Our observations are based on the overriding principle of 'dual responsibilities and accountabilities' of the offender to earn parole and of CSC to provide the opportunities and tools required to support the offender in achieving the goals set out in the correctional plan. We emphasize the need for integrated initiatives required to build comprehensive intake assessment information; integrated work, educational and correctional programs; penitentiary activities that support a structured approach to the offender's day; a comprehensive 'blueprint' for the offender's transition to the community; and, a fully-integrated supervision, intervention and support model in the community. We look at introducing a structured work day and enhancements to safety and security and population management. We raise issues related to the provision of services after the offender has completed the sentence and is no longer under CSC jurisdiction. The following chart identifies the elements of the new model.

The Panel strongly supports the creation of a seamless process that manages the offender from admission through incarceration to conditional release, and ultimately until the offender is maintaining a crime-free lifestyle after the completion of the sentence (formally known as warrant expiry). To achieve this, the Panel recognizes the importance of an integrated approach that involves the:

These initiatives can only succeed in safe environments, with staff that are knowledgeable and well trained, and in partnership with a variety of interest groups working to achieve safe communities.

(i) Population Management

Here, we identify recommendations that respond to changes in the composition of the offender population and address related safety and security issues in CSC penitentiaries. The following chart shows changes that have occurred to institutional populations and the key factors that have contributed to that change. Eight issue areas, reviewed by the Panel, are identified.

As the Panel indicated earlier in the report, life inside a penitentiary should promote a positive work ethic. Today, an offender who is actively engaged in his/her correctional plan is often treated no differently than an offender who is still engaged in criminal behaviour. The Panel feels that this is detrimental to promoting offender accountability. In this context, the Panel supports an approach that links conditions of confinement to an offender's responsibilities and accountabilities. These conditions must be identified and managed under the rights and privileges stated in the Act. The following areas could be targeted: degree of association with other offenders; movement (escorted, unescorted, and supervised); private family visits (access to and degree of frequency); leisure activity; personal clothing and property; searching; pay levels and access to money; access to penitentiary and CORCAN employment; access to programs (school or cell-based).

Administrative segregation is a necessary tool for CSC to maintain a safe and secure environment, especially given the changing offender population. However, the Panel believes that there is an over-utilization of voluntary segregation as a longer-term management alternative.

The Panel has indicated that there should be appropriate and meaningful consequences for offender's behaviour that is not deemed to be acceptable under the rules of the penitentiary. The Inmate Discipline Process needs to provide fair, meaningful and timely sanctions for this type of behaviour.


  1. The Panel recommends that, at each security level (minimum, medium and maximum), a basic level of rights should be defined.
  2. The Panel recommends that differing conditions of confinement should be dependent on an offender's engagement in his or her correctional plan and the offender's security level.
  3. The Panel recommends that CSC should review the use of voluntary segregation to ensure that it is not being used by offenders to avoid participation in his or her correctional plan.
  4. The Panel recommends that current disciplinary sanctions be reviewed and become more aligned with the severity of assaults and threatening behaviour, including the verbal abuse of correctional staff.

(ii) Safety and Security

The Panel sees significant challenges ahead for CSC in maintaining and enhancing safety and security in its penitentiaries. The safety of staff is of paramount importance. CSC is challenged on three fronts in this area: drugs, gangs and the effective use of technology for security and information management purposes. The Panel has noted the inherent risks for frontline staff in working with offenders and the need to ensure that these risks are minimized through health and safety measures.


  1. The Panel recommends that CSC must become more rigorous in its approach to drug interdiction by enhancing its control and management of the introduction and use of illicit substances.
  2. The Panel recommends that CSC's approach should:
    1. entail the submission of an integrated request for resources supported by detailed performance targets, monitoring and an evaluation plan that requires a report on CSC's progress to the Minister, Public Safety, by no later than 2009-10;
    2. incorporate a commitment to more stringent control measures (i.e., elimination of contact visits), supported by changes in legislation, if the results of the evaluation (see rec. (i)) does not support the expected progress;
    3. increase the number of drug dog detection teams in each penitentiary to ensure that a drug dog is available for every shift;
    4. involve the introduction of 'scheduled visits' so that more effective use of drug dogs can be made;
    5. increase perimeter surveillance (vehicle patrol by Correctional Officers) and the re-introduction of tower surveillance, where appropriate, to counter the entry of drugs over perimeter fences;
    6. include a more thorough, non-intrusive search procedure at penitentiary entry points for all vehicles, individuals and their personal belongings;
    7. include the immediate limitation and/or elimination of the use of contact visits when there is reasonable proof that they pose a threat to the safety and security of the penitentiary;
    8. include the purchase of new technologies, to detect the presence of drugs; (resources should be available for the ongoing maintenance and staff training);
    9. enhance the policies and procedures related to the management of prescription drugs, urinalysis testing and the routine searches of offenders and their cells for illicit substances;
    10. work closely with local police forces and Crown Attorneys to develop a more proactive approach for criminal sanctions related to the seizure of drugs;
    11. include an amendment to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to create an aggregating factor (or a separate offence) for the introduction or trafficking within a penitentiary in Canada of any controlled or designated substance with a mandatory minimum penalty consecutively to any existing sentence(s);
    12. include the authority for CSC to prohibit individuals who are found guilty of such charges (highlighted in XI) from entering a federal penitentiary for a period of not less than 10 years; and
    13. include the development and implementation of a heightened public awareness campaign to communicate the repercussions of smuggling drugs into penitentiaries.
  3. The Panel recommends that CSC, as a priority, continue to strengthen its security intelligence framework for the collection, analysis and dissemination of information within federal corrections, police services and other criminal justice partners.
  4. The Panel recommends that a national database of all visitors should be created.
  5. The Panel recommends that the Canada Labour Code be amended to require an offender to provide a blood sample for testing after an incident that could have placed the staff member's health at risk because of the transmission of bodily fluid.
  6. The Panel recommends that the current voluntary testing of offenders at entry into the system for infectious diseases be made mandatory.

(iii) The Structured Work Day

In this section, we note that the lack of a well-structured work day is creating an environment that is causing significant competition for scarce time and resources for programming, institutional employment, mental health interventions and leisure time. We support the benefits of increasing the number of available productive hours and note that this change has resource implications with respect to operating systems and related resource allocations. The following chart summarizes initiatives competing for an offender's time and the three areas that will be affected by the introduction of a longer work day.

The Panel is of the opinion that in order to prepare an offender to return to society as a productive, law-abiding citizen, and in order to ensure that a good work ethic is learned while in incarcerated, a complete work day is required as the standard daily regiment while incarcerated. This will also provide CSC with sufficient time in the day in order to provide the necessary rehabilitation programs.

The Panel notes a recurring observation from its visits to CSC penitentiaries—the lack of a well-structured day was creating an environment that was causing significant competition for scarce time and resources for programming, penitentiary employment, mental health treatment and leisure time. The Panel also noted that recreational time was not directly linked to the offender's correctional plan or needs. It was not clear to the Panel that an offender activity in general weight training had anything to do with their correctional plan or personal rehabilitative needs.

The limitations of a typical work day are described by the Citizens' Advisory Committee at Millhaven Institution:

The type of work in the maximum [-security] unit is somewhat limited and the number of hours of work per day in no way resembles that of a work day in the community. In the education and programs area, offenders address their need to upgrade their education and also participate in correctional programs designed to address their criminogenic needs. Most days, the approximate time spent in classroom settings would be a total of four hours per day due to the time required to move the various populations through the central area. Likewise, if the offender has a cleaning/maintenance job, he would rarely work more than three hours per day.23

An important and complementary issue that must be considered is the offender's use of productive time and the reduction in offender idleness. The Panel has reviewed CSC's approach to the management of productive hours in its penitentiaries. More specifically, the Panel reviewed the recommendations of an advisory committee that CSC established to make recommendations on the way that offenders in Canadian federal penitentiaries use their time outside the normal working day.24 The Panel has recommended the creation of a structured day, recognizing the benefits of maximizing the integration and use of offenders' non-discretionary (employment and programs) and discretionary (leisure activities) time. CSC should revisit the recommendations of the advisory committee as part of an overall review of the role of work and the effective use of a structured work day.

While the Panel understands the impact of security requirements on institutional operations, the movement of offenders and the inadequate physical infrastructure, we nevertheless believe that there is flexibility to more effectively manage competing demands on an offender's time, and that it is critical to lengthen the active day in a penitentiary to 12 hours, but also make those 12 hours meaningful. Therefore, CSC should examine the penitentiary day in the context of the priorities in the offender's correctional plan, taking into consideration such factors as the impact on the deployment of staff to accommodate such measures, daily penitentiary routines, program delivery alternatives, etc.


  1. The Panel recommends that, in order to allow sufficient time for the integration of work, education and correctional programming, and the introduction of structured leisure time, the length of the regular or active day should be lengthened from eight hours to twelve hours, allowing offenders to be actively engaged in meaningful activities.
  2. The Panel recommends that recreation be a meaningful use of the offender's time with a direct link to the offender's correctional plan.
  3. The Panel recommends that CSC pay more attention to the attainment of higher educational levels and development of work skills and training to provide the offender with increased opportunities for employment in the community.

(iv) Assessment and Correctional Interventions

Here, we look at the relationship among intake assessment, the development of a comprehensive correctional plan and the development and delivery of programs in CSC penitentiaries and the community. Our recommendations focus on strengthening the integration of these initiatives to support the continuous involvement of the offender in the correctional plan in order to earn parole. The following chart summarizes the Panel's recommendations.

The Panel believes that a quick yet thorough intake assessment is critical to the new correctional model it is proposing. The chart above outlines the panel's vision for both intake assessment and correctional programming in its new vision.

The Panel fully supports the development of a more comprehensive intake assessment process that brings together behavioural/criminogenic, mental health and employment information into a well-developed correctional plan tailored to the unique risks and needs of the individual offender, and within the context of the length of the offender's sentence. The key to positive results is the commitment of the offender to the correctional plan and the response by CSC to properly manage and support that commitment.


  1. In order to ensure offenders participate and successfully complete programs recommended in their correctional plans, the Panel recommends that CSC:
    1. shorten the period of intake assessment and consider opportunities to start correctional programming (behavioural and motivation-focused) during intake assessment, particularly for offenders with short sentences of four years or less;
    2. shorten the time before offenders start their first program. CSC should look to other correctional jurisdictions who have managed to shorten yet improve intake assessments;
    3. change its program methodology to allow for the introduction of 'program modules' that facilitate offenders starting a program;
    4. introduce a series of meaningful incentives and consequences to encourage offenders to participate in their correctional plans;
    5. undertake a review of programs delivered in penitentiaries and the community in order to determine the right balance between the two;
    6. consider community capacity to deliver programs, including:
      1. the delivery of maintenance programs by contracted and trained program deliverers in communities where CSC cannot provide direct interventions,
      2. the use of trained volunteers to provide support to particular offender groups, offenders who require intensive mental health interventions in a halfway house setting;
    7. undertake a review of the competencies (knowledge and skills) required by its staff to better manage the needs of the changing offender profile with respect to program delivery; and
    8. consider introducing a multidisciplinary team approach to reinforce programming results in both the penitentiaries and the community.
  2. The Panel recommends that, every three years, all programs be evaluated to ensure they meet recognized standards.

(v) Education

The Panel has indicated its belief that education and employment are key cornerstones of the successful reintegration of offenders to the community. The 'stove-piped' environment currently associated with the delivery of these programs must be changed. Offenders must be provided with the best portfolio of knowledge and skills that prepare them to find and keep jobs after release into the community. At the same time, offenders must be motivated to participate in these programs by introducing an increased sense of purpose—the ability to be employed.


  1. The Panel recommends that CSC review the reasons for the low offender participation rates in its adult basic education programs and identify new methodologies to motivate and support offenders in attaining education certificates by the end of their conditional release periods.
  2. The Panel also recommends that these educational programs be reviewed and integrated with initiatives that are being undertaken to provide employability and employment skills for offenders.

(vi) Work—Employability and Employment

In this section, we focus on ensuring employment becomes an integral part of the correctional plan, is linked to other programs (particularly education and skills development), is an integral part of pre-release planning and is linked to employergenerated job opportunities in the community. The following chart summarizes the recommendations of the Panel.

The Employment Continuum—Being Job Ready

The Panel has reviewed the CORCAN Employment Strategy and recognizes that it provides a basic framework within which future action can be developed and implemented.

The Panel sees the refocusing of CSC to an employability–employment model that prepares offenders to be 'skills-ready' for the labour market as a key priority in a new integrated approach to work. Work-oriented programs must play a key role in CSC's rehabilitative approach. CSC must move ahead to reorient its program base to include pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship accreditation programs that are developed and sanctioned by recognized outside organizations.

Such an approach should ensure:

The Panel had discussions with CORCAN staff that focused on their roles and responsibilities, and the Panel also talked to parole officers about the CORCAN staff involvement in case management process. The Panel has concluded that CORCAN supervisors, working at the front line, have an important personal relationship with offenders. As such, they are in a position to have a significant positive impact on them. They are seen as providing offenders with a sense of purpose, and are a key contributor to increasing offender motivation for employment and in promoting self awareness among offenders in being able to handle a job effectively. Any integrated approach must maintain the CORCAN staff's personal and professional leadership and relationship with offenders, and should actively pursue the input of CORCAN staff in the case management process and community release planning.

The needs of other groups of offenders should also be considered. For example, CSC staff indicated that offenders with short-term sentences and younger offenders need significantly more support to make them employment-oriented and job-ready. They suggested staged approaches (modular programs) that would start in the institution and follow the offender into the community. At the same time, staff expressed the need to consider the availability of institutional employment for long-term offenders.

The Panel noted gaps in providing offenders with other important tools needed for a smooth entry into the labour market: birth certificates, social insurance numbers, and other basic identification required by employers. These tools are as important and necessary as certificates in particular job skills.

This concern was echoed by Elizabeth White, Executive Director, St. Leonard's Society of Canada:

Our experience indicates that there is a continuing need for many federally sentenced persons to acquire both specific and generic job skills prior to seeking gainful employment in the public sector. For example, how to prepare a résumé, the importance of timeliness, appropriate dress and demeanour, etc.25

The Employment Continuum—Finding and Moving to a Job

It is critically important that an offender find and keep a job in order to be economically self-sustaining in the community. Employment is a positive indicator that the offender is moving to a crime-free lifestyle. The period immediately following release from a penitentiary is particularly challenging, as offenders need to find housing, secure health care and reconnect with families. CSC should re-evaluate the support structures in the community, including CORCAN community employment offices and community residential facilities, to ensure they can meet the challenges posed by an offender's reorientation of resources toward employment.

New roles, new routines and new social supports are the essence of a successful transition to the community.26

This will require changing the employment continuum by taking a multi-component approach.

The institutional and community case management processes should be more closely linked to develop a comprehensive community release plan that considers employment as a key priority. There are benefits associated with extending the time available for this process to facilitate improved communications between institution and community parole officers and ensure the offender's job-readiness status is effectively matched to community support initiatives and employment prior to release.

As part of the community supervision and support process, CSC should ensure that opportunities for transitional employment for offenders have been identified and are in place. CSC will have to strengthen its labour market ties by ensuring employers are engaged prior to release and ready to accept pre-screened offenders for immediate employment. Particular attention will have to be given to the availability of employment as a key determinant of location of release. It is important to recognize the disparity between the home residences of returning offenders and the location and availability of skill-appropriate jobs, often defined as a 'spatial mismatch.'27The consideration of this disparity is fundamental in building both a short-term and longer-term community transition plan for the offender and requires attention in identifying job opportunities for offenders in general.

Finally, there is a requirement to work in conjunction with the National Parole Board to determine how employment will be factored into decisions for and conditions of release.

Partnerships for Employment—Employer Readiness

The Panel has seen exceptional efforts by CSC staff to develop partnerships with local community employers. These individual efforts provide a strong base on which broader partnerships with employers can be developed. CSC should strengthen its partnerships with various employers, associations, unions, universities and colleges, and private sector firms, to provide transitional support for offenders on conditional release leading to fulltime employment.

The Panel believes that these strategic partnerships can start by identifying opportunities related to the building and construction sector. The Construction Sector Council, a national organization financed by both government and industry, is committed to the development of a highly skilled work force that will support the current and future needs of the construction industry in Canada. In its report, Construction Looking Forward: National Summary of Labour Requirements for 2007 to 2015, the council predicts that the demand for skilled workers in the construction trades will continue to exceed supply. Demographic factors (e.g., a retiring work force) will further contribute to this deficit in the work force.

At Saskatchewan Penitentiary CORCAN is involved in building modular houses in cooperation with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians on projects such as South Beach Homes for First Nations, and CORCAN is also participating in construction projects in New Brunswick with Habitat for Humanity. These CORCAN initiatives should be expanded. These examples indicate the contribution that CSC can make to community-based social housing initiatives, using federal–provincial funding to expand socio-economic benefits for Canadian communities. Challenges associated with spatial mismatch and the buy-in by unions and trade associations will have to be addressed.

Nevertheless, there is a real opportunity to work with the building trade unions to create a model of cooperation that can be used to strengthen strategic partnerships and collaborations with employers, trade associations and unions, private sector facilitators, provincial colleges and school boards, which can help improve the employability and employment skills and labour market opportunities for federal offenders.

The Panel was presented with the issues associated with entering into a joint venture with the building trades unions to establish trades apprenticeship training programs that would link apprenticeship training in CSC penitentiaries with job placement at the time of conditional release.28Using the apprenticeship programs model established with The Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario (PBCTC), a framework for the implementation of a pilot project has been developed. The proposal provides a framework to merge the interests of the PBCTC, employers in the building and construction industry and CSC to prepare offenders with job-ready skills in the construction sector after release into the community. The Panel suggests that CSC use this framework to develop a generic approach that could be used nationally and with a variety of trades sectors to build integrated transition models or employment continuums that would prepare an offender for a specific job at release.

These discussions should be framed in the context of concerns that employers have with respect to the hiring of offenders. A study 29submitted to CSC in March 2006 provided qualitative input from focus group discussions on general hiring practices and the experiences of some business executives from small and medium-sized enterprises. Employers that are hiring want to find employees with professional, job-related skills) and the right personal characteristics—dependability, teamwork, honesty, responsibility, etc. In addition, employers seek some type of job experience. Participants indicated they would need to be provided with the offender's profile describing how issues related to their past criminal behaviour had been identified and addressed. To allay these concerns, participants identified the need for comprehensive information on the offender from CSC (i.e., the crime, the individual's penitentiary record, assessments on the individual and recommendations from CSC officials). They also indicated the need for information on the types of training and skills development provided, how the training relates to industry needs (certification process) and an assessment of the offender's employment performance.

Aboriginal Community Capacity—Job Creation from New Economic Enterprises

The Panel places significant importance on linking employment strategies for federal Aboriginal offenders with the initiatives of the federal government to support the growth of economic enterprises for Aboriginal communities as it is critical to ensure that job ready Aboriginal offenders have employment opportunities available for them in their home communities.

The Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, Sharing Canada's Prosperity—A Hand Up, Not a Handout,30 provides an important context to frame discussions between CSC and Aboriginal communities and employers. Such discussions should focus on providing employment to federal Aboriginal offenders as part of renewed economic and business development initiatives. Additional attention should be given to developing a context for discussions about creating employment opportunities for the Métis and Inuit people.

Successful Aboriginal employment initiatives can only be realized if CSC works in close cooperation with federal government departments and is an integral part of the government's initiatives to identify Aboriginal solutions by Aboriginal communities.

The Panel has seen several examples where CSC is an active participant in specific government actions—working with Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) and Aboriginal communities to support employment in communities through the Aboriginal Skills Development and Employment Partnership Program, and working with the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs and Aboriginal communities to create employment by participating in projects that leverage economic initiatives.

The Panel suggests that CSC work closely with the National Aboriginal Board in pursuing economic measures that help the reintegration of Aboriginal offenders to their communities by creating employment opportunities.

Discussions with the Aboriginal Human Resource Council31 explored options for the development of a framework for consultation. Suggestions were identified to use focus groups (Aboriginal human resource practitioners, including Aboriginal Human Resource Development Agreement Holders, educators and community representatives, and employers and companies) to look at existing best practices at the federal and provincial level as well as successful projects taken on by Aboriginal community groups. Such an approach should be more fully explored as the basis to redevelop an Aboriginal Employment Strategy, closely linked to government initiatives that support Aboriginal employment and Aboriginal economic enterprise development. The objective is to understand how CSC could participate in business investment initiatives that focus on innovative solutions to education (essential skills development and secondary school education attainment), and in recruitment strategies that help Aboriginal offenders successfully enter the labour force.

In conjunction with these focus group discussions, the Panel suggests consulting with representatives of HRDSC to explore how to address the unique needs of Aboriginal offenders.

Women Offenders—Meeting Employment Needs

It is important to note that, at intake assessment, more women than men offenders lacked an employment history; had been unemployed more than 50% of the time prior to their incarceration; were unemployed at the time of their arrest, and were dissatisfied with their trade or profession.32

The Panel reviewed the National Employment Strategy for Women Offenders (October 2006) and its approach to addressing the unique employment needs of women offenders.

In this context, CSC should consider all recommendations on work with respect to:

  1. assessment and correctional plan development requirements at intake,
  2. evaluation of the challenges to employment related to the unique operating environments in women's penitentiaries, and
  3. the gaps in the provision of support services and employment opportunities in the community.

In light of the fact that 50% of employable women on conditional release in the community are not working, particular attention must be paid to and integrate transitional employment requirements with CSC's enhanced community supervision and intervention infrastructure for women.

Any CSC initiatives should take into account the observations and recommendations of the report of the Expert Committee Review, Correctional Service of Canada's Ten-Year Status Report on Women's Corrections—Moving Forward With Women's Corrections, 1996-2006 (Glube, Program Strategy for Women Offenders).33

Research—Fostering an Understanding of Performance

The Panel notes the lack of current CSC research on what works and doesn't work with respect to the contribution of work to positive reintegration outcomes. However, the available research did confirm what other correctional jurisdictions have found: that offenders need knowledge and skills that make an offender job ready in the eyes of employers. Furthermore, the Panel notes a lack of current CSC evaluation and performance information that it could turn to for assistance in determining the success of current employment interventions on reoffending.

Consequently, the Panel suggests that CSC review and rebuild its research and evaluation frameworks to demonstrate the effectiveness of its employment initiatives in meeting labour market requirements and targeted employer requirements, and its contribution to reducing reoffending. This should occur in the context of the challenges posed by the changing offender population profile during incarceration and on conditional release in the community. This research should also build on the research completed in other correctional jurisdictions.


  1. The Panel recommends that the financial and correctional benefits of CORCAN operating as a Special Operating Agency should be evaluated in order to ensure that it properly reflects CORCAN's role in the new correctional model.
  2. The Panel recommends that the results of the review be used to reconstruct CORCAN's Business Plan so that it better responds to the job and training needs of the changing offender population over the next five years.
  3. The Panel recommends that the revised CORCAN Business Plan should also include approaches to working with federal/provincial government departments and agencies, particularly with Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC), Service Canada as well as private sector training/counselling facilitators.
  4. The Panel recommends CORCAN must pay particular attention to:
    1. integrating employability/employment initiatives and correctional and educational programs within a re-structured work day, and
    2. focusing on preparing offenders to be skills-ready (vocational/ apprenticeship) for national and local labour market opportunities.
  5. The Panel also recommends that the CORCAN support the job and skill needs of offenders on conditional release in the community and that CSC/CORCAN:
    1. identify approaches to strengthen release planning, by 'bridging' the offender to an available job in the community by ensuring the offender's job-readiness status is effectively matched to community support initiatives;
    2. ensure that opportunities for transitional employment for offenders have been identified and linked with the responsibilities of community correctional centres and halfway houses, and
    3. ensure that CSC has developed relationships with employers, to provide a seamless transition of pre-screened offenders from the penitentiary to immediate employment.
  6. The Panel recommends that CSC/CORCAN focus on building formal relationships with employers to expand the employment opportunities for offenders. The Panel recommends the following specific priorities in this area:
    1. CSC redevelop its Aboriginal Employment Strategy focusing on building economic opportunities for Aboriginal community-based enterprises that support concrete employment opportunities for Aboriginal people;
    2. CSC and CORCAN work with a Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council or another similar entity to create a pilot project that creates a pre-apprenticeship and/or apprenticeship program for offenders that leads directly to employment on release;
    3. the Panel recommends that CSC and CORCAN work with the Saskatchewan Construction Association in establishing apprenticeship opportunities for young Aboriginals and opportunities that could be provided specifically to Aboriginal offender;
    4. after evaluation of the above noted pilot and building on best practices, forge other such partnerships in other regions; and
    5. CSC re-positions the recommendations identified above with respect to reassessing the National Employment Strategy for Women Offenders.

(vii) Women Offenders

The Glube Report

The CSC Review Panel carefully considered the recommendations of the report, Moving Forward with Women's Corrections, submitted by the Expert Committee chaired by the former Chief Justice of Nova Scotia, Constance Glube, and CSC's response to these recommendations.

The Glube report provided a 10-year status report on federal women's corrections in Canada. The report is generally positive and states that "remarkable progress" was achieved in women's corrections between 1996 and 2006). The Panel agrees with this statement and generally endorses the Glube report, and will comment on the three areas where the Glube report suggested that further advances are needed: governance, mental health and strengthening community transition.


The Expert Committee recommended that CSC revisit the women's corrections governance structure so that the wardens of the women offender penitentiaries would report directly to the Deputy Commissioner of Women (DCW).

The Panel believes the functional role of DCW is currently satisfactory. The Panel agrees with CSC's response to the Expert Committee's recommendation that a "strong functional and strong leadership role by the [DCW], rather than a line authority model, is the most effective governance structure at this time. Balancing corporate attention and visibility with efficient use of resources is an important element in managing the overall model for women's corrections." CSC also promised to "enhance and strengthen the relationship of the DCW and her staff with all levels of the organization in order to ensure a clear and sharpened women-centered focus in support of the women's correctional model." The Panel supports this direction.

Mental Health Needs of Women Offenders

The Expert Committee commended CSC on the progress it had achieved in prioritizing and addressing the mental health needs of women offenders through its Mental Health Strategy for Women Offenders (1997; revised in 2002), which addresses varied mental health needs to maximize well-being and promote effective reintegration. However, the Expert Committee recognized that CSC faces several impediments in implementing its strategy due to financial and human resources issues.

The Glube report also found that the Structured Living Environment (SLE) is "perhaps the most visible accomplishment among the host of related program initiatives, including Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) and Psychosocial Rehabilitation, that CSC has put in place to enable a more uniform approach to the problem [of mental health] within its women's facilities." The SLE provides a consistent approach in addressing many mental health issues with its dedicated staffing model and targeted mental health interventions (DBT and Psychosocial Rehabilitation). Women offenders living in general populations or who have previously resided in the SLE also have the opportunity to benefit from these interventions. The Panel was impressed by the SLE operating at Nova Institution for Women.

Notwithstanding the SLE's positive impact, addressing the needs of women offenders with more significant mental health concerns remains a challenge. The Expert Committee acknowledged this and noted that although CSC is committed to meeting these challenges, significant resources are required to fully address these critical issues. The Panel witnessed challenges providing many types of mental health services, with both men and women offenders, and strongly supports the need for increased resources for mental health services to women offenders.

Human Resources

The Glube report recommended "CSC put a human resource strategy in place to support its women's corrections work force needs." This work has begun and CSC's recently promulgated National Human Resource Strategy will provide the foundation for the development of a specific human resource strategy for the women's portfolio.

Strengthening Community Transition Services for Women

Despite some progress on women's community corrections, the Glube report found that CSC "is primarily focused on women's custody with less emphasis on the kind of community development initiatives that would directly support safe reintegration for women." The report also noted that significant challenges persist in providing a continuum of transition services for women offenders. The Expert Committee recommended that "CSC make women's community corrections a higher priority in order to increase opportunities for successful reintegration into the community."

CSC is enhancing its Community Strategy for Women Offenders, which was supported by the Expert Committee.

Effective community corrections for women offenders requires an integrated approach involving advocacy groups, police, addictions and mental health experts, Aboriginal Elders, and public and non-governmental organizations. The Expert Committee suggested that "CSC needs to focus more effort on building its community capacity to improve release opportunities for women and expand support for the women under conditional release." The report also noted that "more focused attention is needed to expand the network of Private Home Placements and alternative accommodations for women, particularly those in remote areas."

The Panel agrees with the Expert Committee's recommendation and believes there is a critical need for increased community infrastructure to facilitate community transition for women offenders.

Isabel McNeill House

Isabel McNeill House (IMH), a 10-bed facility in Kingston, Ontario, is CSC's only standalone minimum-security women's facility. Opened in 1990, it provided another option for minimum-security accommodation for women offenders when the Prison for Women was operational. However, the need for IMH decreased significantly when the Prison for Women closed in 2000 and was replaced by women's penitentiaries housing multiple levels of security. On February 19, 2007, CSC announced that it would be closing IMH since it had "reached its limitation as a cost-effective and viable facility and it would not be responsible to spend the significant amount of funds required to keep the facility operational when other options exist."34This decision is currently being challenged in the courts on behalf of the women offenders who reside there, and therefore, it would be inappropriate for the Panel to comment at this time.


  1. The Panel, overall, endorses the recommendations contained in the report "Moving Forward with Women's Corrections."
  2. The Panel recommends that a strong functional role for the Senior Deputy Commissioner, Women be maintained.
  3. The Panel endorses the approach used for women with mental health issues and was impressed by the Structured Living Environment (SLE) and recommends that the model should be considered for adaptation to men's corrections.
  4. The Panel recognizes the importance of an independent review of the status of Women's Corrections in Canada and recommends that the recommendations of the Glube Report should form the basis of a formal review in five years.

(viii) Aboriginal Offenders

In this section, we focus our recommendations on the need for CSC to be responsive to the disparities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal offenders through appropriate, Aboriginal-specific measures. The following chart identifies the recommendations made by the Panel.

Investing in Aboriginal Corrections

CSC is at a critical juncture in developing the infrastructure (both physical and interventions and services) necessary to move forward with its strategic plan. CSC must continue to be responsive to disparities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians in the context of initiatives to be undertaken by governments and Aboriginal organizations. Creating the conditions for success requires a more seamless approach with all stakeholders, while respecting the aspirations of Aboriginal people, the jurisdictional mandates of governments, and the needs of Aboriginal offenders and their communities.

There is an urgent need for broader implementation of Aboriginal-specific interventions, and significant investment is needed over the next five years. It should be noted that not all Aboriginal offenders will choose to follow a traditional healing path—some will choose to participate in mainstream correctional interventions. Others, particularly those associated with gangs, may resist any type of involvement, requiring concerted efforts to motivate them to change. CSC must ensure that the implementation of the Continuum of Care model takes these options into consideration, focuses on addressing the needs of Aboriginal offenders and their communities, and is fully integrated with CSC's priorities.

As expressed to the Panel by Donna Duvall of the Canadian Human Rights Commission:

It is positive that the Service in its 2007–2008 RPP [Report on Plans and Priorities] recognized the unique background and needs of First Nations on reserve, First Nations off reserve, Métis and Inuit offenders. However, this needs to be translated into concrete action, one of which is ensuring that all Aboriginal offenders have access to cultural practices and ceremonies, such as the use of sweat lodges and smudging.35

There is increasingly less capacity to meet the needs of Aboriginal offenders because of the growing numbers of Aboriginal offenders. A critical issue for CSC is maintaining these initiatives through appropriate measures and adequate funding.

Horizontal Collaboration

Greater horizontal collaboration and coordination is essential for CSC to effectively assess the impact of federal initiatives on Aboriginal corrections and to integrate correctional considerations into federal policy making. The federal Aboriginal Horizontal Framework identified 34 federal departments and agencies involved in program and service delivery in areas such as Aboriginal governance, health, housing, and employment. CSC must prepare for the next juncture in Aboriginal corrections—the further transfer of care and custody for Aboriginal offenders to communities. Broad government direction on relationships with the North will also dictate how this next stage proceeds.

CSC should continue to engage Aboriginal communities and First Nation, Métis and Inuit organizations.

The Panel heard from the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples that:

Aboriginal organizations and communities require the opportunity to be involved in supporting offenders, research, policy development and the identification of options and solutions.36

There is a requirement to assist Aboriginal communities, including tribal and band councils, in understanding their responsibilities to maintain contact with Aboriginal offenders during their incarceration, and to actively participate in the supervision and support of these offenders during conditional release. A primary objective for Aboriginal communities must be the employment of offenders returning to their communities.

In the North, CSC should develop a blueprint for the effective and integrated management of territorial and federal offenders, based on a set of mutually accepted goals and guiding principles that respect that each jurisdiction has unique challenges and opportunities and is at a different stage in its social, political and economic development. Joint interests and initiatives should continue to be managed through Exchange of Service Agreements.

Human Resource Capacity

CSC is to be congratulated as being the second-largest federal public service employer of Aboriginal people. However, CSC can further contribute through enhanced:

  1. recruitment, retention and development of Aboriginal people; and
  2. awareness and understanding by non-Aboriginal employees of Aboriginal realities, and tools to work more effectively with Aboriginal people and their communities.

CSC should ensure that Aboriginal staff are hired as correctional officers and parole officers and for management positions in penitentiaries and communities where Aboriginal representation is high. CSC should also use existing programs, such as Interchange Canada, to support staff exchanges between national Aboriginal organizations and CSC.

CSC should implement cultural competency training for non-Aboriginal staff, to give them the tools to work more effectively with Aboriginal offenders and communities.

Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal Liaison Officers will continue to play a critical role in providing spiritual and cultural services, and in reconnecting offenders with their families and their communities. CSC should review the roles and responsibilities of these positions to ensure a better balance between initiatives that support spiritual growth (healing) and initiatives that develop practical skills.

Aboriginal Community Development Officers (ACDOs) are also critical in supporting Aboriginal communities as they build capacity to participate in the reintegration process. More of these positions are needed and their activities should be specifically focused on working with reserves and other Aboriginal communities that are actively supporting reintegration and employment of offenders.

In light of the growing need for these positions, CSC should revisit resource indicators to identify future requirements.

Healing-based Correctional Programs

According to evaluation information, Aboriginal offenders are more likely to engage in and complete programs that are relevant to their life experiences and needs. Research has identified the need for healing-based programs designed for and preferably delivered by Aboriginal people. This premise has formed the basis for partnerships with Aboriginal organizations to develop and pilot seven national Aboriginal correctional programs. Their content reflects not only the requirements of CSC but also the teachings of the Elders. It is essential to engage Elders in delivering these correctional programs to ensure they integrate traditional teachings that are appropriate for the diverse needs of Aboriginal offenders. CSC should examine its program framework to ensure there is a reasonable balance between correctional and healing interventions. Although a continuing emphasis must be placed on programs addressing violent behaviour, particularly family violence, and on those that address the management of alcohol and drug abuse, CSC must also identify what resources are required to enhance employability and employment initiatives for Aboriginal offenders.

Preliminary evaluations have also identified the need for community-based maintenance programs that will allow Aboriginal offenders to sustain progress after release and beyond their sentences.

Developing a contingent of trained and qualified Aboriginal Program Delivery Officers and Aboriginal Elders will ensure program integrity is maintained while enhancing the cadre of individuals capable of delivering these programs in penitentiaries or in the community.

Aboriginal Employment

As pointed out earlier, the key challenge facing Aboriginal offenders is reintegrating back into their communities. This challenge becomes even more difficult when they also have to find employment, and when they have migrated from their communities to large urban centres. CSC cannot resolve these socio-economic challenges, but can assist in the transition by working closely with Bands and Councils.

In Section (e) Work—Employability and Employment, the Panel noted that Aboriginal offenders lack the employability skills required to find and keep a job. A series of recommendations has been proposed to respond to these gaps. The Panel recommends that employment be one of the highest priorities for CSC with respect to supporting Aboriginal offenders in returning to the community. The Panel encourages CSC to make greater use of Elders in working with offenders to enhance their employability skills.

Pathways Healing Units

Currently, there are seven funded Pathways Healing Units providing 200 beds at medium-security penitentiaries. These units have provided positive benefits: they provide alternative accommodation for Aboriginal offenders who want to disassociate themselves from gangs and/or actively follow their correctional plans in a supportive, healing environment.

Debra Hanuse, A/Director of the Law & Legislation Unit of the Assembly of First Nations, expressed the organization's support for this program:

Given the success of the Pathways Aboriginal Population Management Strategy in lowering rates of recidivism among First Nations inmates, we strongly support CSC plans to expand Pathways Healing Units to all regions in both men's and women's institutions.37

There are more than 2,500 Aboriginal offenders across Canada. In response to growing demands for broader implementation of these units, CSC should develop a fully integrated 'pathways model,' supported by a business case that identifies what resources are needed to transition offenders from maximum to medium security, from medium to minimum security, and finally to conditional release in the community.

Community Engagement

Mobilizing community capacity to develop a more holistic response to Aboriginal victimization and offending has significant potential to contribute to the broader government public safety agenda.

Nine ACDOs have been successfully increasing community engagement in correctional planning, release decision making and community supervision, in accordance with Section 84 of the CCRA.

The Panel believes that unique approaches are required to support the release of Aboriginal offenders to reserves, rural areas and urban centres. Each poses unique challenges, given the variations in infrastructure, supervision and intervention, and the capacities of Aboriginal communities. In preparing the Aboriginal offender for release and developing a comprehensive community reintegration plan these variations should be differentiated. In order to develop a longer-term strategy on community release, CSC should re-examine the interrelationships among the use of CCRA Section 81 (Healing Lodges) and Section 84 Agreements (supervision by an Aboriginal community) and the use of community correctional facilities. This review should include the role of these release alternatives in supporting the Aboriginal offender in seeking, finding and keeping a job.

The Panel believes that community residential facilities (halfway houses), dedicated to the supervision and support of Aboriginal offenders, particularly in urban centres, serve an important and effective role in allowing offenders to transition from the penitentiary to the community. CSC should ensure that resources are available to support and expand these houses to meet the needs of Aboriginal offenders released to urban centres.

CSC should review the organizational structure and operational functions of its healing lodges, and ensure that qualified Aboriginal staff apply for employment and continue working in healing lodges. A key goal should be to determine if classifications are adequate, and if resources are adequate to hire, develop and train Aboriginal staff. Healing lodges must continue to be an integral part of the Aboriginal community's commitment to safe reintegration.

The impact of earned parole should be reviewed with respect to the roles and responsibilities of Aboriginal halfway houses in the community. CSC should review the current funding formula to ensure it provides a stable funding base that fully responds to operational requirements.

Northern Strategy—Inuit Offenders

The Panel believes that CSC must consider how to enhance the continuum of culturally appropriate interventions that address the specific needs of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit offenders, and effectively support the movement of offenders from the South to the North. Through partnerships with provincial, territorial and Aboriginal groups, every effort should be made to supervise offenders close to their communities, and to respond to the unique challenges and opportunities in the northern jurisdictions.

Jennifer Dickson, Executive Director of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada told the Panel that:

The link between the community and CSC needs improvement. Most Inuit offenders return to their communities after their release, this is a given. That is why it is vitally important that Inuit communities are involved in the reintegration of Inuit offenders back into the community from the start of their incarceration.38

CSC should continue to share its program methodologies with northern jurisdictions and should assist in adapting the methodologies to community transition in the North. Finally, CSC should re-examine the profile of its federal offender population from the North, particularly the national Inuit population, to better understand their demographic, criminogenic and behavioural needs in the context of penitentiary and community initiatives.

Aboriginal Mental Health

Many Aboriginal offenders arrive in federal penitentiaries with significant mental health problems. The Panel recognizes that particular attention must be given to offenders, particularly Aboriginal offenders, with mental health disorders caused by the effects of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). The Panel has made a recommendation in Section (iv) Mental Health to address this issue. The Panel emphasizes that CSC requires funding so that it can work jointly with academic researchers and Health Canada to develop a better understanding and response to FASD in a correctional setting. The Panel refers CSC to the work being implemented at the University of Saskatchewan and at the Fort Saskatchewan Correction Centre.


  1. The Panel recommends that employment be the first priority in supporting Aboriginal offenders in returning to the community.
  2. The Panel recommends that, as the second-largest federal public service employer of Aboriginal people, CSC should:
    1. enhance recruitment, retention and development of Aboriginal staff, particularly in correctional officer, parole officer and management positions in CSC penitentiaries and in communities where Aboriginal representation is high;
    2. ensure that Aboriginal staff can demonstrate their knowledge and awareness of the particular challenges facing Aboriginal people on reserve and in Aboriginal urban communities; and
    3. promote awareness and understanding of Aboriginal life among non- Aboriginal employees, and provide them with the tools and training to work more effectively with Aboriginal people and communities.
  3. The Panel recommends that CSC make resources available to respond to the specific needs of Aboriginal offender populations, such as further investment in correctional programming tailored specifically to their needs.
  4. The Panel recommends that CSC achieve a balance between correctional and healing interventions, and ensure that programming emphasis be placed on managing drug and alcohol problems, managing anger, and using conflict resolution.
  5. The Panel also recommends that CSC ensure it can measure the results of these programs effectively, so that it can demonstrate to Aboriginal communities that Aboriginal offenders have addressed their problems and can rejoin their communities.
  6. The Panel recommends that employment be CSC's first priority in supporting Aboriginal offenders' return to their communities. The Panel recognizes the importance of other program interventions to address the behavioural and skills deficits of Aboriginal offenders, but recommends that CSC achieve a better balance in providing these programs.
  7. The Panel recommends that CSC review its approach to mental health assessments of Aboriginals at intake and ensure effective screening techniques are in place.
  8. The Panel recommends that the number of Aboriginal Community Development Officers should be increased to work with Aboriginal communities and support local Aboriginal offender employment.
  9. The Panel recommends that Pathways Units be expanded in CSC penitentiaries to meet the requirements of Aboriginal offenders where warranted, and that these "Pathways Units" have a job-readiness components.
  10. The Panel recommends that CSC continue to work with Aboriginal communities and First Nations, Métis and Inuit organizations, with the primary objective of securing employment for offenders returning to their communities.
  11. The Panel recommends that CSC review the organizational structure and functions of its Healing Lodges in order to ensure that it can attract qualified Aboriginal staff.
  12. The Panel recommends that CSC review its funding structure to ensure it can fully respond to the operational requirements of Healing Lodges.
  13. The Panel recommends that CSC add job-readiness responsibilities for Healing Lodges in the context of the recommendations on employability and employment.
  14. The Panel recommends that CSC seek resources to support and expand Aboriginal halfway houses, particularly with respect to support Aboriginal offenders in seeking employment.
  15. The Panel recommends that CSC continue to advance its collaboration with the territorial authorities in addressing the unique needs of offenders, particularly Inuit offenders, returning to northern communities.

(ix) Ethnocultural Offenders

In this section, we emphasize the requirement for CSC to be responsive to the needs of ethnocultural offender populations, ensuring that our full slate of recommendations take these groups into consideration, where applicable.

CSC recognizes the cultural diversity present in its populations and the challenge of ensuring the cultural appropriateness of programs and services. CSC also recognizes the important contributions of ethnocultural communities in preventing crime and the safe reintegration of offenders into the community


  1. The Panel recommends that the unique needs of ethnocultural offender populations be considered wherever applicable in the Panel's full slate of recommendations.
  2. The Panel recommends that CSC continue to work with ethnocultural communities to ensure every means and resource is used to respond better to the needs of an increasingly diversified offender population.

(x) Mental Health

The pervasiveness of mental health disorders among offenders requires ongoing support for the development and implementation of an integrated institutional/community mental health strategy. Here, we identify the elements of the support we feel is required. The chart that follows describes the elements of the enhanced, integrated mental health services delivery model. It summarizes recommendations made by the Panel.

The Panel would like to highlight that we were very impressed with CSC's efforts across the country to deal with offenders with mental health issues, some of whom were quite acute and hence resource-intensive. Managing a growing population of offenders with mental health needs has placed a burden on the federal prison system that is proving costly in many ways. The Panel would like to state that it is frustrating to see that CSC has had to create its own internal health care system; in particular, operate a very resource intensive mental health system in order to provide offenders with the services and interventions that they require.

The penitentiary component of the mental health model the Panel is recommending is different in that it:

Community Mental Health Initiative

The Panel has reviewed CSC's Community Mental Health Initiative, funded at $29.5 million for 2005–10. The Panel endorses the initiatives identified by CSC and believes that CSC must better prepare offenders with serious mental disorders for release into the community by strengthening the continuum of specialized mental health support from incarceration to the community. The initiatives should enhance the level of services available to released offenders by improving discharge planning prior to release and by providing clinical services by community mental health nurses and clinical social workers at selected parole area offices and community correctional centres.

As previously mentioned, the pervasiveness of mental disorders among offenders is a serious concern for CSC. Mental disorders occur in the offender population much more frequently than in the general public, and are more common among women offenders than among men. Many offenders have more than one mental health problem and often they also have substance abuse problems that only heighten their mental health needs. In many cases, the substance abuse has directly contributed to their committing the crime that resulted in incarceration. Furthermore, substantial numbers of offenders require special mental health services for organic brain problems, such as those caused by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), dementia or injury. Considering the prevalence of mental health issues, it is not surprising that suicide rates among federal offenders in Canada are substantially higher than among the comparably aged general public.

Mental health issues become a serious challenge to CSC as they compromise its ability to fulfill its mandate of protecting the public and strain its capacities to care for offenders and safely reintegrate them. The Panel was told that federal offenders with mental health needs have only minimal services in the community, thus further impeding their safe reintegration. This problem will only grow as the demand for mental health services in communities far exceeds available capacity.

CSC's system for providing mental health care to offenders has several serious deficiencies, all related to a lack of resources:

CSC has developed a comprehensive plan to address these deficiencies. The goal is to enhance its capacity to address the mental health needs of offenders, both within penitentiaries and in communities. The Mental Health Strategy, approved in 2004, sets out the following objectives:

Mental Health Screening and Assessment: To ensure that all offenders receive an adequate mental health screening when they enter the correctional system, and that those showing disorders promptly receive a full assessment and an individualized mental health treatment plan.

Primary Mental Health Care: To provide coordinated and comprehensive mental health care to offenders within the regular penitentiary setting, including psychological assessment and management, treatment, crisis intervention, personal support, information about illness, prevention measures and health maintenance.

To achieve this objective, every penitentiary should have both a team of mental health care professionals and correctional staff who are trained to respond appropriately to offenders with mental disorders.

Intermediate Care Mental Health Units (ICMHUs): To provide, intermediatelevel care in correctional penitentiaries for men offenders whose mental health problems are not severe enough to require in-patient care in a psychiatric facility, but who nevertheless need safe, structured environments that offer supportive care instead of punitive responses to their behaviour. CSC's goal is to create ICMHUs in approximately 25% of the penitentiaries for men. (Note that intermediate-level care for women has already been addressed through the structured living environments.)

Mental Health Treatment Centres: To upgrade the services provided by CSC's treatment centres to offenders with severe mental health problems to a level equivalent to community forensic psychiatric hospitals, while ensuring that correctional security requirements are met.

Mental Health Support in the Community: To ensure that offenders requiring mental health services are prepared for reintegration and receive the necessary support during conditional release, and that offenders are prepared for transition to the community mental health system at the appropriate time with no loss of support.

The goal is to build on programs and treatments that the offender received in the penitentiary to ensure ongoing stability.

The Panel notes that the Community Mental Health Initiative, funded for five years in late 2005, has begun to enhance the level of services available to released offenders by improving discharge planning prior to release, by providing clinical services through community mental health nurses and clinical social workers at selected parole offices and community correctional centres, by providing services for the specialized needs of offenders with mental disorders (e.g., psychiatric assessments and interventions, living skills, employment, housing, etc.) and mental health training for all frontline staff at parole sites that have an identified need in this area.

The goal of the initiative is to provide the necessary support to offenders with mental health needs to help them transition successfully from the penitentiary to the community, to provide services to enhance their reintegration, and to improve continuity of services as their care shifts from CSC to provincial mental health systems.

Budget 2007 provided two-year funding for the remaining elements of CSC's Mental Health Strategy. The short-term funding has been a positive step in correcting the deficiencies in CSC's capacity to address the mental health needs of its offenders. During the next two years, CSC plans to add mental health screening and assessment to the admission process at all reception centres, to enhance primary care by placing teams of psychologists, psychiatric nurses, and other mental health professionals into selected penitentiaries, and to increase psychiatric resources at treatment centres.

As well, resources will be allocated to train mental health professionals and correctional staff, to attract health professionals through an aggressive recruitment campaign, and to test initiatives such as telemedicine and telepsychiatry.

The outcome of these initiatives is expected to be the attainment of the objectives associated with each element—effective mental health assessment at admission, comprehensive primary care, and a full range of mental health care in treatment centres for the most serious mental disorders, and effective mental health services to offenders in the community.

Assuming that demand for mental health services does not rise disproportionately beyond the current level, the full implementation of the Mental Health Strategy should provide adequate access to mental health services for offenders who require them. This should have a significant positive impact on offenders, on the safety and security of penitentiaries, and on public safety, as more offenders with mental health disorders reintegrate successfully into the community.

As positions become staffed, the resources allocated for community mental health services will have an increasingly positive impact offenders with mental health needs on conditional release—improved discharge planning, increased support of mental health professionals in the community, and improved continuity of care. This process will also establish links to appropriate provincial mental health services for offenders nearing the end of their sentences, when CSC's involvement ends.

Similarly, as the recent resources to fund the other elements of the strategy are deployed, significant improvements should be seen in identifying, assessing, and treatment planning at admission for offenders with mental health disorders, followed by improved mental health services, both in regular penitentiaries and in treatment centres.

However, the funding provided has been allocated only for the immediate future with no assurances of ongoing, permanent funding in the longer term. This has precluded the full implementation of the strategy, and will likely hinder CSC's efforts to effectively apply the resources.

For example, on the basis of this funding it will be very difficult for CSC to offer permanent positions to health professionals who are hard-to-recruit and in short supply.

The Panel met with Drs. John Bradford, Associate Chief, Integrated Forensic Programs, Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, and Pierre Tessier, Clinical Director, Secure Treatment Unit of the St. Lawrence Valley Correctional and Treatment Centre, Brockville Jail. They provided useful insights on assessment and the use of automated assessment tools. More of these discussions should occur, particularly with staff at provincial treatment centres who are working with provincial corrections to exchange best practices in the assessment and treatment of offenders with mental health problems.

Some offenders in the community need specialized mental health interventions. Contracts with professional practitioners in the community should address these specialized needs (e.g., psychiatric assessments and interventions, living skills development). Structures are also being put in place to train community staff in mental health issues.

The Panel recognizes that CSC has used federal funding opportunities to introduce and enhance mental health services. At the same time, the Panel acknowledges that there is still a serious gap in providing primary and intermediate care at the institutional level, and that resources are required to bridge this gap. The Panel supports the development of a mental health treatment environment within CSC penitentiaries that provides primary and intermediate care in structured mental health units, supported by a team of mental health care professionals and correctional staff trained to respond appropriately to offenders with mental disorders. Such care must provide:

CSC should therefore revisit its Mental Health Strategy to ensure that more comprehensive assessments and measures are occurring at intake assessment that result in treatment plans that are fully integrated with the offender's correctional plan.

The Panel, while recognizing the need for broadened mental health services, is aware that only interim funding has been provided, which has an impact on long-term planning. At the same time, the Panel recognizes the need for CSC to demonstrate, through a formal evaluation process, that the results of these initial efforts are providing effective responses to meet its legislative obligations to provide mental health care to offenders over the longer term. The Panel recognizes that there is a serious gap in providing these services and supports the development of a CSC strategy to deliver primary and intermediate care that is fully integrated with federal mental health initiatives.

For women offenders with significant mental health needs, separate units have been established at all five women's facilities, with enhanced capacity for therapeutic intervention. With respect to mental health care and treatment of women offenders, the Panel referenced the observations of the report Moving Forward with Women's Corrections—The Expert Committee Review of the Correctional Service of Canada's Ten Year Status Report on Women's Corrections, 1996–2006 (Glube Report, 2006). The Panel notes the report's positive reaction to the evolution of CSC's mental health strategy for women.

The Panel encourages CSC to ensure that the best practices identified for the treatment for women offenders are fully considered in developing intermediate health treatment units for men offenders.

Regional Psychiatric Treatment Centres

CSC currently has one treatment centre in each of the five regions, with bed space to accommodate approximately 700 offenders. Four have the status of a psychiatric hospital, and four are accredited. As well, the Regional Psychiatric Centre in the Prairies and the Institut Phillipe-Pinel (a provincial facility) in Quebec both have units for intensive treatment of women offenders.

Each treatment centre offers a range of mental health services to offenders with acute and chronic mental health problems and/or requiring programming for sex offenders and violent offenders. Services are provided by psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, occupational therapists, social workers, and others. Over time, given regional differences and various organizational constraints, different models of care have been developed in the five regional treatment centres. Inadequate resourcing at some treatment centres has led to a deterioration in the capacity to provide a full spectrum of mental health care services that meet professional standards. The Panel visited centres in the Ontario, Atlantic and Prairie regions and noted significant disparities among the treatment centres in space availability, services provided, admission criteria, and significant differences in physical conditions and work conditions.

At the same time, the Panel notes that as acute care requirements continue to increase, continuing deterioration threatens the accreditation of these facilities and their ability to meet the standards of a community forensic psychiatric hospital.

The Panel notes that mental health treatment centres must be upgraded to a level of a community forensic psychiatric hospital if they are to provide treatment to offenders with severe mental health problems. At the same time, correctional security requirements must be met.

The centres have developed various forms of shared service delivery agreements with provincial and community service providers, to provide varying degrees of care to offenders with acute mental health disorders and/or requiring specialized treatment. The integrated academic–correctional model that has evolved at the regional treatment centre in the Prairie Region provides an environment that fosters research while nurturing treatment. However, after a review of the agreement that established the facility, the Panel noted that it was outdated and requires significant amendment to comply with current legislations, regulations and CSC policies.

Continuum of Care

A significant break in the continuum of care occurs when the offender reaches warrant expiry and is no longer under the direct care of CSC. The Panel has already noted its concern about the increasing role of the criminal justice system and particularly CSC in identifying and treating mental health cases that would have otherwise been the responsibility of provincial and territorial jurisdictions.

Public safety cuts across jurisdictional boundaries. It is clearly appropriate for CSC to explore how it might work with provincial partners to maintain a continuity of service for high-need offenders with mental health disorders both during and after the completion of their sentences, with the goal of enhancing their stability and reducing the likelihood of a return to the criminal justice system. Continuity of care is important, both during the offender's sentence and during the transition from sentence to post-warrant expiry status. CSC provides services to offenders who are serving federal sentences, and when these offenders' sentences end, CSC's responsibility for mental health is normally transferred to the provincial health system.

The Panel witnessed a break in the continuity of services in all regions that it visited, and sees a real need to develop joint ventures with provinces or non-governmental organizations to enhance the continuity of mental health services for offenders after they are released into the community.

This sentiment was also expressed to the Panel by Patrick Altimas, Director General of the Association des services de réhabilitation sociale du Québec:

The major problem when it comes to mental health is the lack of liaison between correctional services and health services, which operate under provincial jurisdiction … We believe that CSC should form even stronger ties with resources in the various [jurisdictions] in order to ensure services are provided beyond the warrant expiry date.39

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

Of particular interest to the Panel is the identification and treatment of offenders, particularly Aboriginal offenders, with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), an array of mental disorders that result from fetal brain damage caused by the mother's substance abuse and addiction during pregnancy. A presentation and written brief to the Panel by the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada raised concerns about the capacity of the criminal justice system to provide appropriate treatment to offenders with FASD.40 It was noted that individuals with FASD challenge the notion of criminal responsibility, given that FASD limits an individual's ability to form intentions and to understand and predict the consequences of his or her behaviour.

The Panel notes that CSC must engage specialists in this area to come to a better understanding of the approach that it should take. The Panel is aware of research at the University of Saskatchewan in conjunction with CSC's Regional Psychiatric Centre. The Panel encourages the expansion of these initiatives with other regional and national initiatives.

This is also encouraged by the Canadian Human Rights Commission who told the Panel that CSC should:

give priority to this research so that assessment, management and programming strategies can be operationalized as soon as possible. We would note that this can only be achieved by the provision of the necessary funding for this work.41

Recruitment/Retention of Mental Health Professionals

The Panel recognizes that CSC has received interim financing over the next two years to fund an aggressive recruitment campaign to hire psychologists, nurses, and psychiatrists.

While this campaign will help with recruitment, it does not address the issue of retention. Frequently, health professionals leave CSC for more attractive work opportunities and they are difficult to replace.

The reality is that work in penitentiaries is usually not seen as an attractive option for most health care professionals because of the working conditions, the bureaucracy, the clientele, a lack of professional development opportunities, and the level of compensation (which is often lower than what other employers pay for comparable work). The Panel notes that a joint labour–management working group is currently developing approaches to improve the recruitment and retention of health professionals.

The Panel recommends that the observations and recommendations of this group be merged with the development of an integrated professional staff development and training strategy that maintains professional knowledge with current new developments in assessment and treatment, and provides training for correctional staff to supervise and interact appropriately with offenders with mental disorders.

Community Care

The Panel recognizes the importance of mental health support in the community to ensure that offenders continue with treatment and receive support after their sentences.

CSC has one specialized community correctional facility for offenders with mental health needs, Martineau Community Correctional Centre in Montreal. A small number of community residential facilities, including the Centre residentiel correctionnel Madeleine Carmel in Montreal, provide specialized care. Aside from this, the Community Mental Health Initiative provides some mental health support to offenders on conditional release through CSC psychologists working in district offices, supplemented by contracted psychiatric and psychological services offered at parole offices, community residential facilities and directly in the community.


  1. The Panel recommends that the 'bridge funding' approved by Treasury Board for CSC's Mental Health Strategy be provided permanently to CSC so that they can implement and maintain its mental health initiatives and meet legislative obligations.
  2. The Panel recommends the delivery of mental health services is identified as a critical factor in the Government's public safety agenda in order to blend CSC initiatives with federal and national initiatives.
  3. The Panel recommends that Health Canada formally recognize the importance addressing the mental health problems of offenders and strongly encourages the newly established Mental Health Commission to include mentally ill offenders as one of its priorities.
  4. The Panel therefore recommends that a comprehensive and recognized mental health assessment system be incorporated into the intake assessment process, so that a treatment strategy that is fully integrated with programming can be developed.
  5. The Panel recommends increasing the use of contracted and volunteer service providers and the resources required to support their work in assisting offenders under conditional release in the community.
  6. The Panel strongly supports the concept of the Structured Living Environment (SLE) for women offenders and recommends extending this approach to the treatment of men offenders.
  7. The Panel recommends that particular attention should be given to the impact of the effects of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), particularly for Aboriginal offenders.
  8. The Panel recommends that, because of the variety of 'models' that have been implemented by each of CSC's regions, CSC should conduct a review of its Regional Psychiatric and Treatment Facilities to ensure the most effective and accredited structures and approaches are in place to meet regional needs for the treatment of acute mental health and special needs cases.
  9. The Panel recommends that the Review consider the overriding management principle that treatment and operational requirements should take place in the context of a "penitentiary within a hospital setting rather than a hospital within a penitentiary setting" so that a strategy and business case supporting the development of these facilities over the next five years can be developed.
  10. The Panel recommends that CSC consult with other correctional jurisdictions on their 'best practices' related to the assessment and treatment of offenders in mental health treatment centres.
  11. The Panel recommends that CSC work with federal, provincial and territorial correctional and health officials to identify ways to introduce and/or expand exchange of service agreements to provide mental health support in communities to both federal and provincial offenders after the end of their sentences.
  12. The Panel recommends that CSC be provided with the funding to keep its professional mental health staff current with new developments in assessment and treatment, and provide for the training of correctional staff to effectively interact with and supervise offenders with mental health problems.

21 Statistics Canada, Victimization and Offending among Aboriginal Population in Canada, Juristat, Catalogue No. 85-002-XIE, Volume 26, No. 3, June 2006.

22Presentation to the CSC Review Panel, Correctional Investigator Howard Sapers, June 27, 2007, page 16.

23 "Response from Millhaven CAC to the areas the Review Panel is to address," June 4, 2007, page 1.

24 'Maximizing use of Offenders' Time', Correctional Service of Canada, December 6, 2002

25 "SLSC Submission to the CSC Review Panel," May 28, 2007, page 7.

26 J. Laub and R. Sampson, Prisoner Re-entry Perspective, Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2001; S. Maruna, Making Good: How Ex-Convicts Reform and Rebuild Their Lives, Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2001; R. Samson and J. H. Laub, Crime in the Making: Pathways and Turning Points Through Life, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993.

27 J. Brennan and E. Hill, Where Are The Jobs? Cities, Suburbs and the Competition for Employment, Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1999.

28"Mutual Interests Pilot Project Proposal—Construction Trades Apprenticeship Training Leading to Offender Employment," R. K. Mould, unpublished report, 2007.

29 Phoenix Strategic Perspectives Inc., Research with Business Executives Regarding the Hiring of Ex- Inmates, unpublished report, March 2006, Ottawa, Ontario.

30 Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, Sharing Canada's Prosperity—A Hand Up, Not a Handout, March 2007.

31 A private–public, not-for-profit partnership that connects Aboriginal organizations and employers to partnerships and solutions that accelerate the recruitment, retention and the advancement of Aboriginal people in the Canadian labour market.

32 L. L. Motiuk and K. Blanchette, Assessing Female Offenders: What Works, In Ed. M. McMahon, Assessment to assistance: Programs for women in community corrections (pp. 235-266). Arlington, VA: American Correctional Association. 2000.


34 CSC Ontario Regional News Release, "Closure of Isabel McNeill House," February 19, 2007.

35"The Canadian Human Rights Commission's Appearance before the Correctional Service of Canada Review Panel," August 7, 2007, page 8.

36 "Brief to the Panel Review of CSC Operational Priorities, Strategies and Plans," Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, May 2007, page 1.

37 "First Nations' Perspectives on Services and Programs for First Nations Men and Women in the Criminal Justice System," Submission to the CSC Review Panel, Assembly of First Nations, June 11, 2007, page 13.

38 "Submission to the Correctional Service of Canada Review Panel," Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, June 4, 2007, page 8.

39 Submission to the CSC Review Panel, Association des services de réhabilitation sociale du Québec, June 8, 2007, page 6.

40 "Written brief prepared for the Correctional Service of Canada Review Panel," First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Health Canada, May 2007, pages 4 & 5.

41 "The Canadian Human Rights Commission's Submission to the Correctional Service of Canada Review Panel," June 11, 2007, page 10.

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