Information Guide to Assist Victims

Federal corrections and conditional release
9th Edition

PDF (1.1 Mb)

Table of Contents

A. Introduction

This guide is intended to assist victims of federal offenders (in other words, offenders who have received a sentence of two years or more or who are under the jurisdiction of the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) or the Parole Board of Canada (PBC). As well, it provides information about the legal rights and entitlements and explains the role of the Public Safety portfolio partners, including the mandate of the National Office for Victims (NOV) and how a victim can obtain information regarding an offender who has harmed them. General information is also provided about an offender's path through the correctional system after the court has sentenced him/her.

The Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) as amended by the Victims Bill of Rights Act (Bill C-32) on July 23, 2015, defines a victim as a person to whom harm was done or who has suffered physical or emotional harm or property damage or economic loss as the result of an offence. Victims include persons harmed by the offender regardless of whether the offender has been prosecuted or not, as long as a complaint has been made to the police or to the Crown. Where this person is deceased or incapable of acting on their own behalf (i.e., the victim is a child, ill or otherwise incapacitated) the victim's spouse, common-law partner, relative or dependant, or anyone who is responsible for the care or support of that person, by law or custody, may receive information or present a victim statement. In the case where the person named is deceased or otherwise unable to act for himself/herself, anyone responsible for the care or support of the victim's dependant(s) shares the same entitlements.

NOV acts as a central resource offering information and support on federal corrections issues. As part of its mandate, NOV operates a toll-free line which victims can call from anywhere in Canada or the United States; provides referrals to CSC and PBC for specific enquiries; ensures that a victim's perspective is included in national policy development; and develops information products for dissemination to victims, victim service providers and the general public.

Victims may contact NOV by calling, toll free, at 1-866-525-0554 or by email at: ps.nationalofficeforvictims-bureaunationalpourlesvictimes.sp@canada.ca. You may also visit their website at: http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/nov.

The CCRA governs CSC, which is responsible for the administration of sentences for federal offenders (i.e. those serving two years or more).  The correctional service of the province/territory where the offender was sentenced is responsible for the administration of sentences of less than two years. The CCRA also governs PBC, which has jurisdiction to grant, deny or revoke conditional release (often referred to as parole) or, under certain circumstances, order the detention of a federal offender until their warrant expiry date.  PBC can impose special conditions on offenders if released into the community under the supervision of CSC (referred to as conditional release) as well as offenders on Long-Term Supervision Orders. PBC also has the jurisdiction to grant, deny or revoke the parole of offenders serving less than two years in all provinces and territories, except in Ontario and Quebec which have their own provincial parole boards.Footnote1

B. Canadian Statement of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime

In honour of the United Nations' Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime, and with concern for the harmful impact of criminal victimization on individuals and on society, and in recognition that all persons have the full protection of rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other provincial Charters governing rights and freedoms; that the rights of victims and offenders need to be balanced; and of the shared jurisdiction of federal, provincial and territorial governments. In 2003, the Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Criminal Justice agreed that the following principles should guide the treatment of victims, particularly during the criminal justice process.

These principles are intended to promote the fair treatment of victims and should be reflected in federal/provincial/territorial laws, policies and procedures:

  1. Victims of crime should be treated with courtesy, compassion and respect.
  2. The privacy of victims should be considered and respected to the greatest extent possible.
  3. All reasonable measures should be taken to minimize inconvenience to victims.
  4. The safety and security of victims should be considered at all stages of the criminal justice process and appropriate measures should be taken when necessary to protect victims from intimidation and retaliation.
  5. Information should be provided to victims about the criminal justice system and the victim's role and opportunities to participate in criminal justice processes.
  6. Victims should be given information, in accordance with prevailing law, policies and procedures, about the status of the investigation; the scheduling, progress and final outcome of the proceedings; and the status of the offender in the correctional system.
  7. Information should be provided to victims about available victim assistance services, other programs and assistance available to them, and means of obtaining financial reparation.
  8. The views, concerns and representations of victims are an important consideration in criminal justice processes and should be considered in accordance with prevailing law, policies and procedures.
  9. The needs, concerns and diversity of victims should be considered in the development and delivery of programs and services, and in related education and training.
  10. Information should be provided to victims about available options to raise their concerns when they believe that these principles have not been followed.

The importance of the Canadian Statement of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime is highlighted in the preamble of the recently enacted Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (2015).

C. The Victims Bill of Rights Act (Bill C-32) and Federal Corrections

The Victims Bill of Rights Act (Bill C-32) came into force on July 23, 2015. Bill C-32 creates the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (CVBR), enshrining statutory rights for victims to information, protection, participation and restitution.

Right to Information
Victims of crime have the right to information about the offender such as the date, destination and conditions attached to the offender's release under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) and about available programs and services including Restorative Justice programs.

Right to Protection
Victims of crime have the right to reasonable and necessary measures to protect them, including victim protection conditions such as non-contact and geographic restrictions attached to the offender's release.

Right to Participation
Victims of crime have a right to convey relevant information for correctional authorities, such as the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) and the Parole Board of Canada (PBC), to take into account in making decisions about the offender. `

Further, Bill C-32 amends the CCRA, the Criminal Code, Canada Evidence Act , and the Employment Insurance Act . The amendments to the CCRA build on the existing CCRA provisions and will assist in facilitating the exercise of a victim's rights under the CVBR.

CCRA amendments that came into force on July 23, 2015:

The following four amendments that pertain to CSC and PBC came into force on June 1, 2016:

Correctional Service of Canada:

  1. the provision of information about an offender's correctional plan and progress made toward meeting its objectives and
  2. providing access to an offender photo prior to release.

Parole Board of Canada:

  1. consulting with victims before varying or removing a release condition aimed at victim safety and
  2. access to an audio recording of a parole hearing should the victim be unable to attend.

Federal Complaint Systems

Under the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (CVBR) all federal departments and agencies with responsibilities under the CVBR must have a complaints process in place to receive complaints from victims and resolve any breaches of a victim's rights.  These departments and agencies review the complaints, take steps to resolve complaints in a timely manner, make recommendations to correct any infringement (violation) or denial of victims' rights, and inform victims about the results of the review, including any recommendations that were made.

Recommendations could include, but are not limited to, such actions as making apologies to victims, providing additional or previously withheld information, reviewing internal policies to prevent similar situations, reconsidering a request or reviewing how the complaint process works.

Under the CVBR, anyone who meets the definition of a victim of crime, including individuals who are named as a victim's representative, can submit a complaint. A victim of crime is defined in law as an individual who has suffered physical or emotional harm, property damage, or economic loss as the result of the commission or alleged commission of an offence.

The CVBR will also allow the following individuals to exercise a victim's rights when a victim is dead or incapable of acting on his or her behalf: the victim's spouse or a common-law partner; a relative or dependant of the victim; and anyone who has custody of the victim, or is responsible for the care or support of the victim's dependants.

Limitations of the CVBR

If a victim's rights under the CVBR are infringed or denied, making a complaint will not result in a cause of action (going to court), a right to damages, or a right of appeal from any decision or order.  The CVBR does not affect rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Where can victims go to make a complaint about a federal agency?

To make a complaint about:

If a victim is not satisfied with the response to their complaint, the victim may ask for a review of the response from the federal department or agency that provided the response. The federal department or agency will inform them of the appropriate process or contact.

If, after having exhausted all levels of the complaints process of the federal department or agency with responsibilities under the CVBR, a victim is not satisfied with the response to their complaint, they may contact the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime at http://www.victimsfirst.gc.ca/index.html.

Where can victims go if they need help making a complaint about a provincial or territorial department or agency?

Complaints about a provincial or territorial agency whose mandate includes working with victims of crime (for example, police, prosecutors, or victim services administered by the province or territory) are addressed by provincial and territorial legislation. For help making a complaint against a provincial or territorial department or agency, victims may contact victim services in their area.

Each province and territory offers its own programs and services to victims of crime. The Victim Services Directory at http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/victims-victimes/vsd-rsv/sch-rch.aspx  can help people find a victim service nearby.

D. Victims' Entitlements

The role of victims of crime in the justice system

The CCRA recognizes that victims of crime have an important role to play in the criminal justice system.  This Act gives victims an opportunity to participate in the federal corrections and conditional release process.  It also entitles individuals who meet the definition of victim in the CCRA to request to receive certain information (i.e., registered victims) about the offender who has harmed them and to be informed about all PBC conditional release decisions as well as some CSC decisions.

CSC and PBC are the primary sources for ongoing information to victims of federal offenders while the offender is serving their sentence.

Disclosure of information to victims – Victim Notification

Victims may request and receive information regarding a federal offender as set out in the CCRA by registering either with CSC or PBC. For further information about victim notification or to register to receive information about the offender who has harmed them, victims may contact CSC by calling toll free at 1-866-806-2275 or the PBC at 1-866-789-4636. Victims may visit CSC and PBC websites at http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/victims-victimes or http://www.canada.ca/services/paroleboard. Victims may provide authorization in writing for someone (e.g., a friend, a member of the clergy or a police officer) to receive information or notifications from CSC or PBC on their behalf.  These persons are referred to as victims' representatives.

CSC and PBC do not automatically inform victims about an offender's caseFootnote2.  The law specifies that this information only be given upon request, as some victims prefer not to receive any further information about the offender.

If requested, a victim will automatically receive the following information about the offender who harmed them:

More information may be released if the Commissioner of CSC (or delegated staff) or the Chairperson of PBC (or delegated staff) determines that the interest of the victim clearly outweighs an invasion of the offender's privacy that could result from the disclosure.  

Such information may include:

The following information pertaining to an offender's release may be disclosed by the Chairperson of PBC (or delegated staff)Footnote3 or the Commissioner of CSC (or delegated staff)Footnote4:

This information is to be disclosed to the victim 14 days before the offender's release, unless it is not practicable to do so. Moreover, the Commissioner of CSC (or delegated staff) also discloses any changes to this information to the victim.

Victims must ensure that CSC and PBC have their current contact information, for example, address(es) and telephone number(s) if they wish to receive ongoing information regarding an offender.

Victims may withdraw their request for information regarding an offender at any time.

For further information about victim notification or to register to receive information about the offender who has harmed them, victims may contact CSC by calling, toll free, at 1-866-806-2275 or the PBC at 1-866-789-4636. Victims may also visit their websites at: http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/victims-victimes or www.canada.ca/services/paroleboard.

Information provided by victims

CSC and PBC welcome information from victims about offenders and any concerns they may have for their safety or that of others as well as any other relevant information they feel is important, including requesting special release conditions.  This information can be provided to CSC or PBC at any time.

Victims are encouraged to provide information regarding the physical, emotional or financial impact that the offence has had on them, their families and/or the community. They may also request that special conditions be imposed on offenders on conditional release. This information may also be provided to CSC or PBC in the form of a written Victim Statement at any time, which may also be presented during an offender's Parole Board hearing.

Other types of victim input and involvement

Victims may also become involved by:

Disclosure of information provided by victims

Although offenders do not have the right to be notified if a victim registers with CSC or the PBC to receive information and notifications, the law requires that CSC and PBC disclose to the offender any information the victim has provided that will be considered in the making of a decision by CSC or PBC.  Victims' personal information, such as their contact information, are NOT shared with offenders.

Should victims have concerns about the offender knowing that they will be providing information, they must discuss these with CSC or PBC prior to providing information.  By doing so, a victim may then decide whether or not they wish to provide information.

E. Federal Services for Victims

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Minister of Public Safety Canada

  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • National Office for Victims
  • Correctional Service of Canada
  • Parole Board of Canada

Minister of Justice Canada

  • Public Prosecution Service of Canada
  • Policy Centre for Victim Issues
  • Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime

National Office for Victims (Public Safety Canada)

The National Office for Victims (NOV) at Public Safety Canada acts as a central resource offering information and support on federal corrections issues. As part of its mandate, the office:

Correctional Service of Canada

CSC, through the National Victim Services Program, has dedicated Regional Victim Services Managers and Victim Services Officers who are responsible for managing the provision of information and services relating to victims of offenders under federal jurisdiction. Their roles and responsibilities include the following:

CSC Victim Services Officers may also accompany a victim in reconciliation circles and other restorative approaches when requested by the victim.

To provide information to CSC, or to request information and notifications, victims may contact CSC at 1-866-806-2275 or visit the following CSC website: http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/victims-victimes.  They may also contact a CSC regional Victim Services Manager or a Victim Services Officer directly. Contact information for the CSC regional offices is included at the end of this guide.

CSC also has a legal obligation to gather relevant information about offenders from a variety of sources, including the courts and the police. If the victim has filed a Victim Impact Statement with the court at sentencing, CSC is required by law to obtain a copy.  

This information is used to:

In the absence of a Victim Impact Statement, it may be possible for a victim to participate in a Community Assessment which is completed by a Parole Officer. A Community Assessment is a report that captures information that assists in managing the offender's case.  Victims may also provide information that is relevant to the offender's case to CSC or PBC at any time. This information is also taken into consideration when CSC makes a recommendation to PBC regarding whether an offender should be granted a conditional release, such as parole.

Contact of Victims by inmates

CSC monitors incoming and outgoing offender mail and has a telephone monitoring system that can authorize or prevent communications between offenders and members of the public.  Any person who does not wish to be contacted by a federal offender can ask CSC to stop the unwanted communications while the offender is incarcerated by contacting them through the phone numbers listed at the end of this booklet.

Victim-offender mediation

CSC provides registered victims with information about its restorative justice programs and its victim-offender mediation services. CSC coordinates and provides victim-offender mediation services through the Restorative Opportunities Program. These mediation services are based on the principles and values of Restorative Justice which seek to address the harm caused by crime by focusing on the needs and issues of the people affected. Mediation offers victims of crime a chance to communicate with the offender who harmed them, and provides them with an opportunity to tell the story of their experience and express the full impact of the crime on their lives and be certain the offender understands the impact of the crime. It also allows victims to find answers to questions that are important to them; hold the offender accountable for the harm done; and achieve a greater sense of closure on some issues.

Victim-offender mediation services can take many forms and are guided by participants' needs.  If victims choose, they may communicate with an offender through an appointed mediator. Victims can send written correspondence or a video message to the mediator who will relay these to the offender. Alternatively, with the assistance of the mediator, victims can meet with offenders face to face if desired.

Mediation services are flexible and entirely voluntary.  The pace and extent of involvement is determined by the participants in consultation with the mediator(s).

Victim-offender mediation services may not be suitable for all crime victims or for all offenders.  Protocols are in place and are highly sensitive to participant needs and readiness to proceed.  Measures are taken to ensure participants' safety and privacy.  Ongoing assessment, an extensive preparatory stage, and follow-up support (as desired and appropriate) are parts of the process in order to protect against further victimization and harm.

Additional information on CSC's Restorative Opportunities Program is available at http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/restorative-justice/003005-1000-eng.shtml

Requests for victim-offender mediation services or for information regarding other Restorative Opportunities, victims may contact CSC's Restorative Opportunities Coordinator at 613-995-4445 or by e-mail at restorativejustice@csc-scc.gc.ca. Victims can also call CSC's Victim Services Division toll-free at 1-866-806-2275.

The Parole Board of Canada

Parole Board members, when making decisions, consider relevant information from victims that can help to assess whether an offender's release may pose a risk to society.  This information can help the Board members assess the:

Possible repercussions must be carefully assessed if the victim is a family member, or was closely associated with the offender. If the offender intends to return to an integrated, small, or isolated community, Board members must weigh the support and control available to assist in the safe and gradual community reintegration.  The views of the victim are of particular assistance if the release places the offender near the victim.

PBC, through their Regional Managers of Community Relations and Training and Regional Communications Officers, provide the following services to victims:

To provide information to PBC or to request victim notification, victims may contact PBC at 1-866-789-4636. Victims may also contact a PBC Regional Manager of Community Relations and Training or Regional Communications Officer directly. Contact information for the PBC regional offices is included at the end of this booklet.

Attending PBC hearings

Any member of the public may attend hearings conducted by PBC as an observer.  Hearings usually take place in the penitentiary where the offender is held.  Applications should be made to PBC, in writing and as early as possible (preferably at least 30 days before the hearing). This allows time to conduct a required security check on the individual in order to obtain clearance to enter a penitentiary. A support person can also accompany the victim; this support person does not need to attend the hearing, however, if they do, they must also apply to be approved for entry into a penitentiary.  While it is rare, applications may be refused if security is a concern for the victim, the offender, institution staff or the institution itself.  Applications may also be refused if space is limited or the applicant is under 18 years of age.

Hearings are held in one of Canada's two official languages.  By law, the offender chooses the language.  If victims cannot understand the official language of the hearing, they may request simultaneous interpretation into the other official language.

Travel to PBC hearings

Registered victims may apply to the Victims Fund, administered by the Policy Centre for Victim Issues (PCVI) at the Department of Justice, for financial assistance to attend PBC hearings of the offender who harmed them. Financial assistance is also available for a support person to accompany a registered victim at PBC hearings, which covers travel, hotel and meal expenses, according to current Government of Canada Treasury Board Directive. In order to receive this financial assistance, victims must be registered with CSC or PBC and must have been approved to attend the hearing.

For further information regarding financial assistance to attend PBC hearings, victims may contact the Victims Fund Manager by email at victimsfundmanager@justice.gc.ca or by calling toll-free at 1-866-544-1007 from anywhere in Canada or the United States or locally at 613-946-1077 or by fax at 613-954-4893. Victims may also visit the Department of Justice website at http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/victims-victimes/fun-fin2.html.    

It is important to start the funding application process as far in advance of the scheduled hearing date as possible so that financial assistance will be available when required. Victims who have applied to or been approved by PBC to attend a hearing and who seek financial assistance to travel to it, should apply to the Department of Justice for funding as early as possible (at least 30 days before the scheduled date of the hearing).  Where an application for funding is received less than 30 days before the scheduled hearing date, advance funding will likely not be possible. In these cases, if the application is approved, eligible expenses will be reimbursed after the hearing when the Victims Fund Manager receives an expense claim with receipts. Confirmation by letter outlining the expenses to be covered will be sent to the applicant.

Where an application for funding is received after the hearing date, no retroactive financial assistance will be available unless the hearing has proceeded on short notice, or if the applicant who attended can show that he or she was not aware of the Victims Fund.

Statement by victims at PBC hearings

Victims may provide a Victim Statement to PBC for consideration at hearings that includes information regarding the physical, emotional or financial impact, including property damage or economic loss, the offence has had on them, their family and/or the community. A Victim Statement is a short text that is written for a parole hearing, describing the continuing impact of the crime. Registered victims may attend a hearing and read their statement to Board members, designate a support person who will attend the hearing with them to read the statement on their behalf, or present their statement by recording (regardless of whether the victim attends the hearing).   Normally, a victim must be 18 or older to attend a hearing.

A Victim Statement should be concise, and provide information about:

PBC has developed a victim statement checklist to assist victims in preparing their statement.  The checklist may be found at http://www.pbc-clcc.gc.ca/infocntr/factsh/sc-lvd-eng.shtml

The Victim Statement must be submitted in writing in English or French prior to the hearing.  In order to meet the legal requirements of sharing information about the decision-making process with the offender, PBC requires the Victim Statement 30 days before the hearing or, if translation is required, 45 days before the hearing date.  Given these requirements, the presentation made at the hearing cannot change from the written statement that was shared with the offender.  As indicated previously, contact information, such as a victim's addresses and phone numbers, are NOT shared with the offender.

For further information about presenting a Victim Statement at a PBC hearing, victims may visit the PBC website at http://www.canada.ca/services/paroleboard/. Victims may also contact the PBC by email at info@pbc-clcc.gc.ca or call toll-free at 1-866-789-4636.

Obtaining a copy of a PBC decision

PBC decisions made under Part II of the CCRA and the reasons for the decisions are available from PBC's Registry of Decisions.  These decisions concern conditional release, return to a penitentiary, detention, and the decisions and reasons of PBC's Appeal Division.

Victims or anyone with an interest in a specific case may make a written request to PBC for a copy of a conditional release decision made after November 1, 1992.  This is done by filling out a Request for Registry of Decisions Form which can be found at http://www.pbc-clcc.gc.ca/media/dec-eng.shtml or by calling any PBC National or Regional Office listed at the end of this guide.

Note that PBC will withhold information that may jeopardize the safety of any person, reveal a confidential source of information, or prevent the successful reintegration of the offender into society.
In addition to the information services and support provided to victims by CSC and PBC, other federal government offices also focus on addressing the needs and concerns of victims of crime.

Policy Centre for Victim Issues (Department of Justice Canada)

The Policy Centre for Victim Issues at the Department of Justice Canada works toward giving victims an effective voice in the criminal justice system by:

The Policy Centre for Victim Issues aims to improve understanding of the evolving needs of victims of crime, and to increase victim confidence in the criminal justice system. Its activities include:

For more information, visit the PCVI website at http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/victims-victimes/aboutus-aproposdenous.html, contact the PCVI by fax at (613) 952-1110 or e-mail at webadmin@justice.gc.ca.

Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime

The Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime (OFOVC) is an arm's length federal government office that works to ensure that the federal government meets its responsibilities regarding victims of crime. Reporting directly to the Minister of Justice, the OFOVC helps victims of crime and their families by:

For more information visit the OFOVC website at www.victimsfirst.gc.ca, or contact the OFOVC by email at victimsfirst@ombudsman.gc.ca, by phone at 613-954-1651, 1-866-481-8429 (toll-free) or 1-877-644-8385 (TTY), or by fax at 613-941-3498.

F. An Offender's Sentence from Start to Finish

At the request of a victim, certain information relating to an offender such as his or her sentence, placement in a penitentiary and transfer to another penitentiary may be disclosed to a victim if the interest of the victim clearly outweighs any invasion of privacy that could result from the disclosure. This section describes the stages that an offender is likely to encounter during his or her sentence. It starts with the events immediately following sentencing, reviews the various steps required for an offender to obtain a conditional release in the community, and finishes with the completion of an offender's sentence (warrant expiry).

CSC, as the federal government agency responsible for administering sentences of a term of two years or more as imposed by the courts, is responsible for managing institutions of various security levels and supervising offenders under conditional release in the community.  

Experience has shown that most offenders are more likely to become law-abiding citizens if they participate in a program of gradual, supervised release.  Most of Canada's federal offenders serve only part of their sentences in a federal institution.  Part of the time, they serve in the community, adhering to certain conditions and supervised by professional CSC staff.   

The offender's sentence commencement date (Day one)

After an offender has been found guilty, the presiding judge determines the sentence to be imposed and indicates its length.  It is not uncommon for an offender to be convicted of several offences at one time. In this situation, the judge may order that sentences be served at the same time (concurrently) or one after the other (consecutively).

Transition period from a provincial jail to a federal penitentiary (Up to 15 days)

The offender may have been kept in custody before trial or sentencing.  If so, this will normally have been in a provincial correctional facility.  Other offenders may have been in the community on bail.  At the moment a sentence of imprisonment is imposed, the offender will be immediately taken into provincial custody if they are not already.

An offender who has just been sentenced to a penitentiary term of two years or more may remain in a provincial institution for up to 15 days before being transferred to a federal penitentiary.  This 15-day period allows federally sentenced offenders to attend to their personal affairs, including, in some cases, filing an appeal before being transferred to a federal penitentiary.

During this transitional period, a CSC parole officer meets with the offender to conduct a preliminary assessment.  The purpose of this assessment is to note any immediate and critical concerns (e.g., suicide risk, security, offender's physical and mental health), gather relevant information and identify the offender's community supports.  The information that the community supports provide will help correctional staff verify information provided by the offender and identify problem areas that will require attention during the period of incarceration (e.g., substance abuse, family violence).

Offender Intake Assessment and correctional planning (Up to 90 days)

At the end of the 15 days (or less if the offender agrees), the offender will normally be transferred under guard to the closest federal regional reception centre. A reception centre is a special penitentiary, or part of a penitentiary, dedicated to the assessment of offenders.  The offender then undergoes a comprehensive assessment called the Offender Intake Assessment (OIA) within 90 calendar days of the offender's sentence commencement date.  The purpose of the OIA is to:

During the OIA, factors that led the offender into criminal behaviour are identified as well as areas in the offender's life that, if changed, can reduce their risk of re-offending.  The results of the OIA are documented in the Correctional Plan, which serves as a basis to monitor the offender's progress throughout the sentence.  It outlines and prioritizes the areas that must be addressed to reduce an offender's likelihood of re-offending and to prepare him or her for safe reintegration into society.  The Correctional Plan includes certain restrictions within the institution and destinations in the event of a grant of a release such as work release or temporary absence as well as commitments to participate in programs such as job training and educational and treatment programs. Each Correctional Plan is different because it is tailored to the specific needs and risks of the individual offender.

Offenders are assigned to an institutional parole officer who will implement the offender's Correctional Plan, follow-up on their progress and assist them in preparing for their eventual safe reintegration into the community.  Offenders must follow their Correctional Plan, and failure to do so reduces an offender's chances of being granted parole or other conditional releases.

Placement in a penitentiary (After 90 days or less)

Upon the completion of the OIA, offenders are transferred to a penitentiary corresponding to their security classification and program needs.  The security classification is based on the offender's institutional adjustment, risk of escape, and risk to the public in the event of an escape, and determines the offender's level of supervision and accommodation within the institution.

Transfers of offenders (Throughout the sentence)

Offenders should be serving their sentences at the lowest level of security considered necessary to meet their individual program needs and security requirements. Placing offenders in such an environment while maintaining public safety helps CSC and PBC assess the readiness of offenders to safely reintegrate them into society. At any time, offenders may be transferred to higher or lower security institutions, and most offenders will be transferred to lower security institutions at some point in time during the sentence to better prepare them for release.

Daily routine

An offender's day is ruled by the routine of the institution.  On an average weekday, an offender has approximately six hours during which he or she might take part in activities.  Offenders can be involved in programs, education, institutional employment (i.e., working in the kitchen, institutional maintenance or cleaning), vocational training or the Industrial and Agribusiness Program.  The following schedule depicts a typical inmate weekday:

In addition to the four formal inmate counts, informal counts take place several times a day, without interruption of activities. The informal counts are compared with the formal counts.  During the night, correctional officers continually make their rounds and ensure that every inmate is in his or her cell.

Programs offered to offenders (Throughout the sentence)

At the request of a victim, information regarding the programs that an offender is participating in, or has participated in, may be disclosed to a victim if the interest of the victim clearly outweighs any invasion of privacy that could result from the disclosure. This section provides a brief overview of the different programs offered to federal offenders by CSC.

CSC is legally mandated to provide programs and services that are designed to address offenders' criminal behaviour and contribute to their safe and gradual return to the community. CSC offers various types of programs both in institutions and in the community that are designed to meet the specific needs of the offenders and respect the gender, ethnic, cultural, spiritual and linguistic differences of offenders.  

There are four main areas of interventions and programs that include: correctional programs, educational programs, social programs and vocational programs.

Correctional Programs for Male Offenders

The Alternatives, Associates and Attitudes Program targets offenders who have a pattern of committing property, fraud or drug offences that are not related to substance abuse. The program helps offenders set goals and solve problems, and teaches them the skills they need to manage themselves, their emotions and their attitudes.

The Basic Healing Program, a culturally-based program involving Aboriginal Elders, targets Aboriginal offenders who have needs in the areas of problem-solving, aggression and emotions management, goal setting and interpersonal and communication skills.

Violence Prevention Programs include the High Intensity Violence Prevention Program and the Moderate Intensity Violence Prevention Program for male offenders with histories of violence and who are at risk for future violent behaviour. These programs assist offenders in developing skills in areas such as managing themselves, their behaviour, and their risk; managing anger and other emotions related to violence; problem-solving; changing attitudes that are related to violence; and resolving conflicts in non-violent ways. The In Search of Your Warrior Program addresses the risks of Aboriginal male offenders with a history of violence by using Aboriginal philosophies and includes the involvement of Aboriginal Elders as part of the program's model.  CSC also provides the Violence Prevention Maintenance Program which helps the men to continue to apply the skills they learned in the previous program.

Family Violence Prevention Programs include the High Intensity Family Violence Prevention Program and the Moderate Intensity Family Violence Prevention Program that aim to reduce the offender's risk of violence and abuse toward intimate partners. The programs are designed to provide awareness and education, assist the offender in developing insight, impart information on parenting and healthy non-abusive relationships, and build skills in relation to thoughts, emotions and positive social behaviour. Aboriginal offenders are provided with a culturally-based High Intensity Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Program that involves Aboriginal Elders and includes traditional teachings as well as ceremonies. In addition, the Family Violence Prevention Maintenance Program is available to offenders in the institution who have completed the High or Moderate Intensity Family Violence Prevention Program to reinforce the attitudinal, cognitive, and behavioural gains made in the main program through the continued practice of skills.

Substance Abuse Programs include the High Intensity National Substance Abuse Program and the Moderate Intensity National Substance Abuse Program that target offenders whose substance use was directly linked to their criminal behaviour. The programs are designed to help offenders explore what problematic behaviours they need to change, identify risks, and learn how to manage themselves in order to prevent relapse. CSC also provides the culturally-based High Intensity Aboriginal Offender Substance Abuse Program and the Moderate Intensity Aboriginal Offender Substance Abuse Program which are designed to reduce the risk for substance abuse relapse among Aboriginal men. These programs, which involve Aboriginal Elders, address the impacts of addictions on offenders while taking into account their cultural requirements.  Offenders who have completed substance abuse programs are also provided with the National Pre-release Substance Abuse Program prior to their release into the community. This program helps offenders become aware of potentially harmful situations in the community and how to cope with them. In addition, CSC provides the National Substance Abuse Maintenance Program to refresh the lessons taught in other substance abuse programs. Offenders apply the skills they acquired so they can monitor and cope with daily challenges and prevent relapse.

Sex Offender Programs include the High Intensity National Sex Offender Program and the Moderate Intensity National Sex Offender Program that help offenders understand the impact of sexual violence on victims and provide offenders with information to assist them in developing skills in areas such as managing themselves, their harmful behaviour and their risk factors, as well as managing their emotions and thinking related to sexual violence. The National Sex Offender Maintenance Program is provided to offenders who have completed a National Sex Offender Program in order to help them maintain learned skills and continue to manage their risk.  CSC has also established the Tupiq Program for Inuit sex offenders that involves Inuit Elders and focuses on the offenders' need to overcome denial and accept responsibility for their criminal behaviours while taking into account cultural requirements.

The Community Maintenance Program provides structured follow-up to any offender who has completed a violence prevention program, a family violence prevention program, a substance abuse program or the Alternatives, Associates and Attitudes Program. The program allows offenders to integrate the skills they learned in the other programs into one self-management plan. Participation in additional maintenance sessions depends on the offender's risk. The culturally-based Inuit Community Maintenance Program ensures that Inuit offenders released into the community continue to receive appropriate and culturally relevant support.

The Integrated Correctional Program Model was developed by CSC to address multiple risk factors that most offenders have, in an efficient and comprehensive manner. The program model is designed to help offenders understand the risk factors that are linked to their criminal behaviour and to teach them how to use the skills learned in different challenging or stressful situations. Within the Integrated Correctional Program Model, the risk factors related to the offender's criminal behaviour are identified and addressed during his sentence.  Offenders must participate in one of three separate program streams: multi-target programs; Aboriginal-multi-target programs; or sex offenders programs. High, moderate and adapted moderate intensity levels of programming are offered, depending on the offender's risk of re-offending and capacities. In addition, the model includes an introductory phase, a motivational component, a community program and a maintenance component, which complement the following main programs:   
The High, Moderate and Adapted Moderate Intensity Multi-target Programs assist offenders in changing certain attitudes and beliefs and helps them manage themselves, set goals, solve problems, and develop interpersonal, communication and coping skills. The programs provide offenders with effective strategies and skills to manage their risk and reduce harmful behaviours.  The Adapted Moderate Intensity Multi-Target Program is delivered to offenders who have mental health issues, learning disabilities and other issues that affect their ability to take part in correctional programming.  The program is delivered at a slower pace to smaller groups to enable the program facilitator to offer more individual support.

The High and Moderate Intensity Aboriginal Multi-target Programs for Aboriginal male offenders involve Aboriginal Elders and include culturally relevant teachings and ceremony. The programs provide offenders with effective strategies and skills to manage their risk and reduce harmful behaviours.  

The High, Moderate and Adapted Moderate Intensity Sex Offender Programs are designed to provide offenders with effective strategies and skills to manage their risk and reduce harmful behaviours.  They assist offenders in changing attitudes and beliefs, and help them manage themselves, set goals, solve problems, and develop interpersonal, communication and coping skills.  The Adapted Moderate Intensity Sex Offender Program is delivered to offenders presenting a moderate risk of reoffending sexually who have mental health issues, learning disabilities and other issues that affect their ability to take part in correctional programming. The program is delivered at a slower pace to smaller groups to enable the program facilitator to offer more individual support. (These programs differ from the National Sex Offender Programs.)

Correctional Programs for Women Offenders

The Women's Engagement Program focuses on engaging women in their own rehabilitation by making them aware of problematic behaviours in conjunction with other problem areas faced by women offenders. Women offenders learn how to manage emotions, set goals, solve problems and communicate with others. CSC also provides the Aboriginal Women's Engagement Program which involves Aboriginal Elders, to address the specific problems faced by Aboriginal women. Both programs allow women offenders to develop a self-management and/or healing plan that includes coping strategies to help them live a positive lifestyle;

The Women Offender High and Moderate Intensity Programs are designed to enhance women's ability to use the skills and coping strategies learned in the Women's Engagement Program. They provide women offenders with opportunities to practice these skills as they continue to address problematic behaviour linked to crime. CSC also provides the culturally-based Aboriginal Women Offender High and Moderate Intensity Programs which involve Aboriginal Elders and incorporate Aboriginal philosophies;

The Women Offender Self-Management Program targets women offenders who need support to maintain skills learned in other programs or who need additional support. The program assists women as they continue to make changes and focuses on enhancing strengths, solidifying coping strategies, and increasing self-awareness. CSC also offers a culturally-based Aboriginal Women Offender Self-Management Program which involves Aboriginal Elders, focuses on reinforcing strengths and coping strategies, and increasing self-awareness.

The Women's Sex Offender Program targets women identified as having sexually offended and who have been assessed as having a high or moderate risk to re-offend. This program is designed to enhance an offender's abilities to use skills and coping strategies, and to provide opportunities to practice those abilities as they continue to address problematic behaviours linked to crime, in addition to sexual offending.  Although this is not an Aboriginal specific program, it can be Elder assisted if required.

The Women's Modular Intervention Program targets all women housed in secure units who have been assessed as having a high or moderate risk to re-offend.  The program is designed to address risk factors recognized as contributing to women offender's criminal behaviour and is the first component within a broader continuum of care. It includes the development of self-management plans/healing plans, targeting relevant risk factors linked to criminal and/or problematic behaviours. Aboriginal women offenders also have the opportunity to complete the Aboriginal specific sessions and modules, which are Elder assisted.

Education Programs

Educational programs provide offenders with the basic literacy, academic and personal development skills that are needed to succeed in the community. By increasing education levels, these programs can also help offenders participate in correctional and vocational programs. CSC offers a variety of education programs including: the Adult Basic Education Program; the General Educational Development Program; the English (or French) as a Second Language Program; the Keys to Family Literacy Program offered at women's institutions; and, the Post-secondary Prerequisite Program. In addition, the Post-Secondary Education Program is offered for continuous learning. Post-secondary courses are usually completed through correspondence and available to those offenders who meet the academic requirements and have the funds available to pay for post-secondary education.

Social Development Programs

CSC offers a variety of social programs to provide offenders with the skills, knowledge and experiences necessary for personal and social development. Among others, the Community Integration Program for male offenders who have difficulties in terms of living in the community. The program is designed to help participants find and maintain employment, develop community supports and networks, and, learn how to go about everyday living in the community.

The Social Integration Program for Women is designed to help women offenders plan for a healthy lifestyle, including how to form and maintain healthy relationships in the community. The program provides information on community living issues, including support systems and social networks, employment and children.

The Parenting Skills Training Program targets all offenders who have, or hope to have, contact with their children and who require more knowledge and skills to improve their parenting skills and their relationships with their children.

Vocational Programs

CSC offers a variety of vocational programs that help prepare offenders for employment in the community upon release. These programs provide training in a wide range of marketable work areas that are relevant to employment opportunities that exist in institutions as well as in the community.

Conditional Releases

Studies show that offenders who are gradually released into the community using a conditional release process increase their likelihood of becoming law-abiding citizens.  Since most offenders will eventually return to the community, the best way to protect the public is to help offenders reintegrate into society through a gradual and supervised release.  Offenders must meet specific criteria to be eligible for conditional release, and the protection of society is paramount in any release decisionFootnote5. All offenders in the community on conditional release are supervised by CSC parole officers.

The following section provides information on the different types of conditional release.  

Temporary absences

Temporary absences (TAs) are the first type of release that an offender may receive. These may be authorized for various reasons, including medical; administrative; community services; family contacts; personal development for rehabilitative purposes; and, compassionate reasons such as to attend a funeral. Temporary absences may be escorted (ETA) or unescorted (UTA):

Work release

Work release allows an incarcerated offender to work for a specified time in the community on a paid or voluntary basis while under supervision.  Generally, offenders are eligible for work release when they have served one-sixth of their sentence or six months, whichever is greater.  Offenders in maximum security institutions are not eligible for work release.

The institutional head has authority to grant a work release of up to a maximum period of 60 days under specified conditions that always include supervision.  Correctional authorities grant work release to carefully selected offenders who perform work and services of benefit to the community such as painting, general repairs and maintenance of community centres or homes for the elderly.  Work release is one of the first steps in the safe, gradual reintegration of offenders into society.

Parole

Parole is a form of conditional release that allows some offenders to serve part of their sentence in the community, provided that they report to a parole supervisor and abide by certain conditions.  Even though the law requires that an offender be reviewed for parole once he/she has served the amount of the sentence required in order to become eligible, this does not mean that they will get automatically get parole. Parole is a privilege, not a right.

Members of PBC are appointed by the Governor in Council with a view to having a membership that is sufficiently diverse in their backgrounds to collectively represent community values and views in performing the work of PBC.

PBC is an independent administrative tribunal that has exclusive authority to grant, deny and revoke parole for offenders serving sentences of two years or more, as well as for offenders serving sentences of less than two years in provinces and territories that do not have their own provincial parole boards. Only the provinces of Ontario and Quebec have their own parole boards that have authority to grant releases to offenders serving a sentence of less than two years.

In determining whether to grant parole, Board members carefully review all available relevant information, including information from victims, the courts, correctional authorities and the offender, and conduct a thorough risk assessment. The protection of society is always the paramount consideration. Board members must be satisfied that the offender will not pose an undue risk to the community and will follow specific conditions.

Day Parole

Day parole allows offenders to participate in community-based activities to prepare for release on full parole or statutory release.  Offenders on day parole must return nightly to an institution or a halfway house unless otherwise authorized by PBC.

Most federal offenders are eligible for day parole at either six months into the sentence or six months before full parole eligibility, whichever is later.  Day parole is normally granted for up to a maximum of six months.  Those serving a life sentence (for first and second degree murder) and dangerous offenders (see Special situations below) are eligible for day parole three years before their full parole eligibility date.

Full Parole

Full parole is a conditional release that allows offenders to serve part of their sentence in the community.  Under this form of release, an offender may live on his or her own or with his or her family, work and contribute to society.  Although no longer required to return to the institution, the offender remains under supervision and must continue to abide by certain conditions.  Generally, an offender serving a determinate sentence is eligible for full parole at one-third of the sentence or seven years, whichever is less.

Statutory Release 

By law, offenders (except those serving a life or indeterminate sentence) who are not considered likely to commit a serious offence before the expiry of their sentence must be released after serving two-thirds of their sentence.  This is referred to as statutory release.   

PBC may impose special conditions in addition to the standard conditions imposed on all offenders in order to protect society and to facilitate the offender's reintegration into society.  In certain cases, PBC can also impose a residency condition in a community-based residential facility.

Conditions, suspension and revocation

When released, all offenders must adhere to certain standard conditions set out in the release certificate (official written authorization to be in the community).  Any offender released on parole or statutory release must abide by the following conditions:

PBC may also impose special conditions that it considers reasonable and necessary to manage an offender's risk and to prevent them from returning to criminal activity.  These may include curfews, restrictions on movement, prohibitions on drinking, participation in a treatment program and prohibitions on contacting or associating with  certain people (such as former victims, children or other offenders).  Victims may want to provide information that would help determine the conditions that are imposed.  They can do so by submitting this information in writing to CSC or PBC.

CSC can take action if it believes that the offender is violating release conditions or may commit another crime. It can suspend the release and return the offender directly to a penitentiary until the risk is reassessed. If the facts warrant, CSC may then decide to cancel the suspension so the offender can return to the community on conditional release. However in other circumstances, CSC will refer the case to the PBC for either revocation or cancellation of the suspension. If returning on conditional release, offenders may have additional conditions imposed on their release, and supervision or community support services put in place.

Detention

In certain cases, upon a referral by CSC, PBC may order that an offender be detained beyond his or her statutory release date up until the expiry of his or her sentence. PBC must be convinced that if the offender is released in the community, he or she is not likely to commit an offence causing death or serious harm, a sexual offence involving a child, or a serious drug offence before the end of the sentence.

Special situations

Dangerous Offenders

The Dangerous Offender designation is available only for certain offences such as serious personal injury offences, and is used in cases where the offender constitutes a threat to the life, safety or physical or mental well-being of other persons. The designation is used by the courts to detain offenders who are deemed too dangerous to be released into society because of their violent tendencies, but whose sentences would not necessarily keep them incarcerated under other legislation.

Where an offender is found to be a dangerous offender, the court imposes a sentence that must adequately ensure public safety. The court may impose:

Long-Term Offender designation

The Long-Term Offender designation was created in 1997, primarily targeting sexual offenders.  The legislation was developed in response to concerns that many sexual and violent offenders required specific attention, even though they did not meet the criteria for a dangerous offender designation. Should the courts find an offender to be a long-term offender, it will impose a sentence for the offence which must be a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of two years, and an order that the offender be subject to long-term supervision for a period that does not exceed 10 years. Every long-term offender who is in the community is subject to standard conditions.  However, PBC can add special conditions to ensure close supervision of the offender, such as mandatory participation in counselling. CSC provides the community supervision.

Life imprisonment for murder

Eligibility dates vary considerably for those offenders who were sentenced to life imprisonment as a minimum sentence before July 26, 1976.  Since that date, the law has changed, creating the two categories of murder (first and second degree) each with specific parole eligibility dates. Eligibility does not mean release. Parole must be granted by PBC.

These offenders become eligible for unescorted temporary absences and day parole three years before their full parole eligibility date. After the ineligibility periods have ended, if the PBC considers that the offender will not pose an undue risk to the community, the PBC may grant him or her some form of conditional release and, if these are successful, eventually full parole. However, the institutional head may authorize these offenders to receive escorted temporary absences for medical reasons or to attend judicial proceedings or a coroner's inquest any time after admission to a federal institution. Should the offender continue to pose an undue risk to society, he or she will remain in federal custody to serve the life sentence.

Offenders who are paroled while serving life sentences remain on parole for life unless parole is revoked and they are returned to a penitentiary.  Without a grant of parole, the offender remains imprisoned for life.

Judicial review

Bill S-6, the Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act, came into force on December 2, 2011.  This new legislation eliminates the Judicial Review, ensuring that offenders who committed first-degree murder on or after December 2, 2011 are not eligible for parole until they serve the full 25 years of their sentence. Similarly, offenders serving life imprisonment for second-degree murder committed on or after December 2, 2011 are no longer eligible for parole until their parole ineligibility period is served, which could be up to 25 yearsFootnote6. Offenders convicted of murder before December 2, 2011 are eligible for Judicial Review after having served 15 years of their sentence. They may apply to the Chief Justice of the province or territory in which their conviction took place. Where an offender does not apply for Judicial Review, the Correctional Service of Canada notifies in writing a parent, child, spouse, common-law partner or other relative of the victim and specifies the date on which the offender will be eligible to make another application for Judicial ReviewFootnote7.

G. Community Corrections

Experience and studies show that most offenders are more likely to become law-abiding citizens if they participate in a program of gradual, supervised release and reintegration.  Gradually releasing offenders from prison and helping them adjust to life beyond prison walls is called community corrections.

Supervision, programming and community involvement

Supervision means the direct monitoring of offenders.  Except for some temporary absences, work releases, and statutory release, PBC makes the decision to release the offender and the CSC supervises the offender.

Supervision is carried out mainly by parole officers employed by CSC and sometimes by agencies under contract, such as the John Howard Society, the Elizabeth Fry Society or the Salvation Army.  All offenders on conditional release are supervised no matter where they live–whether in the city or remote parts of the country.  The degree of supervision will depend on the individual and the risk they present.  Some offenders may require closer monitoring and more frequent contact than others.  Offenders who are considered to be a higher risk to society will require close monitoring and more frequent contacts.  Those who are lower risk will require less.

In supervising offenders, correctional staff relies on many sources of information – police, families, program staff, employers, victims and others.  By being aware of the offender's situation, correctional staff can help ensure that he or she stays on track.  They can take action when the offender breaks rules, or they can help solve problems that could, if not addressed, lead to a new crime.

Research shows that supervision alone does not help offenders change. Supervision needs to be complemented with good programming.  Programs in the community build on the gains that the offender has already made by taking part in programs when they were imprisoned.  Offenders on community release may be expected to participate in programs tailored to their needs.  Some programs help them cope with daily living, relationships and emotions, others deal with specific issues such as sexual offences and alcohol or drug abuse.  Some offenders upgrade educational or employment skills.

CSC has also developed a national approach to Aboriginal corrections that includes:

Agencies and individuals in the community also deliver programs or add to program activities.  They act as counsellors, role models and support networks.  Community involvement demonstrates the community's willingness to accept those offenders who reform themselves.  Offenders' success in starting afresh depends partly on their own efforts and partly on the opportunities the community at large provides.

Key partners in community corrections

Community networks

The skills, resources and experiences of many different people are needed to deal with offenders' complex problems and needs. CSC, therefore, draws upon a broad network of organizations and individuals–family members, psychologists, employment counsellors, educators and others–to assist in community correctional work. Such community networks provide both supervision and support. The needs of Aboriginal offenders in the community are met by Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers and Aboriginal Community Development Officers. These officers, who work with established communities and Elders, are often located in parole offices.

Volunteers can also play an important role in correctional efforts. They enrich and supplement supervision by establishing positive relationships with offenders, helping them to socialize and providing links to the community. In some parts of the country –usually remote areas–volunteers are used extensively to complement the work of parole officers.

Community-based residential facilities

A community-based residential facility is a halfway house owned and operated by either a non-governmental organization, a private aftercare agency or by CSC.  Each agency-owned facility operates under contract to CSC, providing accommodation, counselling and supervision for 15 to 30 offenders who are usually on full parole, statutory release and long-term supervision orders where the PBC has imposed a Special Condition to reside.  The contract sets out detailed requirements for levels of control and assistance.  There are about 200 such facilities under contract each year.

In addition, CSC operates 16 of its own community-based residential facilities, referred to as Community Correctional Centres.  In these centres, the director, parole officers and support staff work as a team, often in cooperation with community partners, to supervise and provide programs for offenders on day parole, or those that are on statutory release with a residency condition and long-term supervision orders.

Parole offices

CSC operates 70 local parole offices, each responsible for a specific geographical area and the management of offenders within it.  An office normally consists of a director, parole officers and support staff.  Together with community networks, the local office works to assess offenders, assist offenders through programs, and ensure that the level of supervision is appropriate to the risks and needs presented by each case.  The local parole office is the base from which most of community corrections take place.

The parole officer is the key link to supervised offenders in the community and is crucial to managing offender risk.  The job is part police officer, part social worker.  Parole officers must be flexible, enforcing strict controls in some cases and acting as counsellors in others, depending on each offender's needs.

Parole supervision is based on a professional relationship with each offender and on a study of the risk factors that contribute to the individual's criminal behaviour.  The parole officer ensures the offender follows his or her Correctional Plan through:

If the offender breaches parole conditions or seems likely to do so, the parole officer can take disciplinary measures, which may include taking the necessary steps to send that person back to the penitentiary.

Parole officers are guided in their work by rules and standards. They routinely write reports on the progress of each offender and discuss cases that require additional attention with their supervisors.  Officers work together with many community agencies to help secure stable housing, employment, income and positive personal contacts.

Each parole officer is responsible for 15 to 20 offenders.  The caseload may be lower if the offenders require intensive supervision or live in remote areas.

H. How to Make a Complaint about the National Office for Victims under the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights

The Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (CVBR) provides statutory rights for victims of crime to information, participation, protection and restitution. It also provides victims with a method to complain and seek a remedy when they feel that those rights have been infringed or denied.

Under the CVBR, every federal government department or agency with responsibilities under this legislation must have an internal complaints mechanism in place to review complaints from victims of crime. These internal complaints mechanisms must also have the ability to make recommendations to remedy any infringement or denial of a victim's right. Finally, the CVBR states that the federal department or agency must notify victims of the recommendations and remedies that were decided upon.

The National Office for Victims at Public Safety Canada has a responsibility to provide general information to victims of crime about the criminal justice system, as well as to make direct referrals to the CSC and the PBC for victims of federal offenders who would like to register to receive specific information about the offender who harmed them. If you feel as though the National Office for Victims did not provide you with the information or referral that you requested, you may submit a complaint for review.

How to submit your complaint

To submit a complaint or seek further information on how to file a complaint, you may contact the National Office for Victims in a number of ways by:

To allow us to fully address your complaint, please provide:

What to expect

The National Office for Victims at Public Safety Canada takes all complaints very seriously and will respond directly to your concerns. You can expect an acknowledgment of receipt from us within two business days of receiving your complaint, and a more fulsome response within 20 business days. If we need any additional information from you in order to review your complaint, we will contact you as soon as possible. If we are unable to respond to your complaint in a reasonable amount of time, we will advise you in writing within the first 20 business days after receiving your complaint.

I. Contact Information

Public Safety Canada

National Office for Victims
Public Safety Canada
Toll-free line: 1-866-525-0554
269 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, ON K1A 0P8
Email:  ps.nationalofficeforvictims-bureaunationalpourlesvictimes.sp@canada.ca
Web: http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/nov

Department of Justice Canada

Policy Centre for Victim Issues
Department of Justice Canada
Toll-free line for Travel to PBC hearings: 1-866-544-1007
Fax:  613-954-4893
E-mail: victimsfundmanager@justice.gc.ca
Web:  http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/victims-victimes/aboutus-aproposdenous.html

Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime

P.O. Box 55037
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1A1
Toll-free line: 1-866-481-8429
Outside Canada: 613-954-1651
Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-877-644-8385
Email: victimsfirst@ombudsman.gc.ca
Web: http://www.victimsfirst.gc.ca

Correctional Service of Canada

Headquarters – National Office                   
Victim Service Division
340 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0P9
Toll-free 1-866-806-2275-1-0
E-mail: victims-victimes@csc-scc.gc.ca
Web: http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/victims-victimes    

Atlantic Region
1045 Main Street, 2nd floor       
Moncton, New Brunswick E1C 1H1
Toll-free 1-866-806-2275-1-5
Fax: 506-851-4684
E-mail: GEN-ATLVictimServices@csc-scc.gc.ca

Ontario Region
P.O. Box 1174                         
Kingston, Ontario K7L 4Y8
Toll-free  1-866-875-2225Fax: 613-536-4730
E-mail: GEN-ONT-VICTIMSERVI@csc-scc.gc.ca

Pacific Region 
Unit 100, 33991 Gladys Ave.
P.O. Box 4500 3rd floor
Abbotsford, B.C. V2S 2E8
Toll-free 1-866-806-2275-1-1
TTY: 1-604-851-3812
Fax: 604-870-6152
E-mail: GEN-PAC-RHQVictims@csc-scc.gc.ca

Prairie Region
3427 Faithful Avenue
P.O. Box 9223                         
Saskatoon, SK  S7K 3X5
Toll-free  1-877-322-5822
Fax: 306-659-9314
E-mail: Prairiesvictimservices@csc-scc.gc.ca

Quebec Region
2nd floor, 3 Place Laval,
Laval, Quebec H7N 1A2
Toll-free 1-450-967-3680
Fax: 1-450-967-3774
E-mail: QUEvictimes@CSC-SCC.GC.CA

The Parole Board of Canada

Headquarters–National Office
Victims Services
Leima Building
410 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R1
Tel: 613-954-7474
Toll-free 1-866-789-4636
E-mail: info@pbc-clcc.gc.ca
Web: http://www.canada.ca/services/paroleboard/

Atlantic Region
Unit 101, 1045 Main Street,
Moncton, New Brunswick E1C 1H1
Tel: 506-851-6345
Fax: 506-851-6926
Toll-free 1-866-789- (4636)

Ontario Region (including Nunavut)
516 O'Connor Drive
Kingston, Ontario K7P 1N3
Tel.: 613-634-3857
Fax: 613-634-3862
Toll-free 1-800-518-8817

Pacific Region
2nd Floor, 1925 McCallum Road
Abbotsford, British Columbia V2S 3N2
Tel.: 604-870-2468
Fax: 604-870-2498
Toll-free 1-888-999-8828

Prairies Region–Edmonton Office (Alberta)
Suite 401, 4th floor, Scotia Place, Scotia 2
10060 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3R8
Tel.: 780-495-3404
Fax: 780-495-3475
Toll-free 1-800-597-4397

Prairies Region–Saskatoon Office
(Manitoba, Saskatchewan and NWT)
6th floor, 101–22nd Street E.
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7K 0E1
Tel.: 306-975-4228
Fax: 306-975-5892
Toll-free 1-888-616-5277

Québec Region
Guy-Favreau Complex–West Tower
10th floor, Suite 1001
200 René Lévesque Blvd West
Montréal, Québec H2Z 1X4
Tel. : 514-283-4584
Fax : 514-283-5484
Toll-free 1-877-333-4473

Provincial/Territorial Victim Services Offices

Alberta
Victims Programs
Alberta Solicitor General and Public Security
10th Floor, J.E. Brownlee Building
10365 - 97 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3W7
Phone: 780-427-3460
Outside of Edmonton: dial 310-0000 (ask for Victims Program)
Fax: 780-422-4213
Web: http://www.solgps.alberta.ca

Victims of Crime - Financial Benefits Program
Phone: 780-427-7217
Outside of Edmonton: dial 310-0000 (ask for Victims Program)
E-mail: financialbenefits@gov.ab.ca
Fax: 780-422-4213
Web: http://www.victims.alberta.ca

Criminal Injuries Review Board
1502, 10025 – 102A Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 2Z2
Phone: 780-427-7330
Fax: 780-427-7347
Also available toll-free from anywhere in Alberta: 310-0000
Web: http://www.solgps.alberta.ca

British Columbia

Victim Services and Crime Prevention Division
302–815 Hornby Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6Z 2E6
Phone: 604-660-5199
British Columbia and Yukon: 1-800-563-0808
TTY: 604-875-0885
Fax: 604-660-5340
Email: victimservices@gov.bc.ca
Web: http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/victimservices/

Crime Victims Assistance Program
P.O. Box 5550 Station Terminal
Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 1H1
Phone: 604-660-3888
Toll-free inside British Columbia: 1-866-660-3888
Web: http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/victimservices/financial

Manitoba

Victim Services
1410–405 Broadway
Woodsworth Building
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 3L6
Phone: 204-945-6851
Toll-free:1-866-484-2846
Web: http://www.gov.mb.ca/justice/victims/

Compensation for Victims of Crime Program
1430–405 Broadway
Woodsworth Building
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 3L6
Phone: 204-945-0899
Toll-free inside Manitoba: 1-800-262-9344
Web: http://www.gov.mb.ca/justice/victims/

New Brunswick

Victim Services
Community and Correctional Services Division
Fredericton Regional Centre Floor 1P.O. Box 6000
Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5H1
Phone: 506-453-3992
Fax: 506-457-7228
Web: http://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/public_safety/safety_protection/content/victim_services.html

Compensation for Victims of Crime Program
Web: http://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/services/services_renderer.201175.html

Newfoundland and Labrador

Victims Services
Department of Justice
Main Floor, Argyle Building
P.O. Box 8700
St. John's, Newfoundland A1B 4J6
Phone: 709-729-7970
Fax: 709-729-5100
Email: victimservices@gov.nl.ca
Web: http://www.justice.gov.nl.ca/just/victim_services/index.html

Northwest Territories

Victim Services
Community Justice Division
Government of the Northwest Territories
Department of Justice
4903 49th Street P.O. Box 1320
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories X1A 2L9
Phone: 867-920-6911 (collect calls accepted)
Toll-free line: 1-800-661-0408, local 8500
E-mail: victimservices@gov.nt.ca
Web: https://www.justice.gov.nt.ca/en/victim-services/

NWT Victims of Crime Emergency Fund
NWT Victim Services
Department of Justice (GNWT)
4903-49th Street P.O. Box 1320,
Yellowknife, NT X1A 2L9
Phone: 867- 873-7002
Fax: 867- 873-0199
Email: vcef@gov.nt.ca
Web: https://www.justice.gov.nt.ca/en/victims-of-crime-emergency-fund /

Nova Scotia

Victim Services
Nova Scotia Department of Justice
P.O. Box 7
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 2L6
Phone: 902-424-3309
Fax: 902-424-2056
Toll free: 1-888-470-0773
Email: justweb@gov.ns.ca
Web: http://novascotia.ca/just/victim_services/programs.asp

Criminal Injuries Counselling Program
1690 Hollis Street, 4th floor
P.O. Box 7
Halifax, NS B3J 2L6
Phone: 902-424-4651
Fax: 902-424-2056
Toll free within Nova Scotia: 1-888-470-0773
Web: http://www.gov.ns.ca/just/victim_Services/programs.asp

Nunavut

Community Justice
Government of Nunavut
P. O. Box 1000, Station 510
Iqaluit, Nunavut X0A 0H0
Phone: 867-975-6363
Fax: 867-975-6160
Email: CommunityJustice@gov.nu.ca
Web: http://www.gov.nu.ca/programs

Ontario

Ontario Victim Services Secretariat
Ministry of the Attorney General
7th floor, 18 King Street East,
Toronto, Ontario M5C 1C4
Phone: 416-325-3265
Fax: 416-212-1091
TTY: 416-325-4935
Victim Support Line: 1-888-579-2888
Web: http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/ovss/

Prince Edward Island

Victim Services
Office of the Attorney General
1 Harbourside Access Road
P.O Box 2000
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1A 7N8
Phone: 902-368-4582
Fax: 902-368-4514
Web: http://www.gov.pe.ca/jps/victimservices

Québec

Office of Victims of Crime
1200, route de l'Église, 9ième étage
Sainte-Foy (Québec) G1V 4M1
Phone: 418-646-6548
Fax: 418-646-5995
Web: http://www.justice.gouv.qc.ca/english/themes/victimes-a.htm

Crime Victims Assistance Centres
Phone: 1-866-532-2822
Web: http://www.cavac.qc.ca/english/index.html   

Saskatchewan

Victim Services
Saskatchewan Justice
610-1874 Scarth Street
Regina, Saskatchewan S4P 4B3
Phone: 306-787-3500
Fax: 306-787-0081
Toll-free: 1-888-286-6664
TTY: 1-866-445-8857
Web: http://www.saskatchewan.ca/residents/justice-crime-and-the-law/victims-of-crime-and-abuse   
Email: victimservices@gov.sk.ca

Victims Compensation Program
Phone: 306-787-3500
Fax: 306-787-0081
Toll-free: 1-888-286-6664
TTY: 1-866-445-8857
Web: http://www.saskatchewan.ca/residents/justice-crime-and-the-law/victims-of-crime-and-abuse/compensation-for-victims-of-crime
Email: victimservices@gov.sk.ca

Yukon

Victim Services and Family Violence Prevention Unit
Department of Justice
Government of the Yukon
301 Jarvis St.
Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 2C6
Phone: 867-667-8500
Toll-free line: 1-800-661-0408, local 8500
Fax: 867-393-6240
Email: victim.services@gov.yk.ca
Web: http://www.justice.gov.yk.ca/prog/cor/vs/

J. Glossary

Aboriginal Community Development Officers – these CSC employees provide leadership, teaching and awareness of CSC processes for Aboriginal communities.  They also facilitate the process where an Aboriginal inmate has an interest in being paroled to an Aboriginal community under Section 84 of the CCRA.

Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer – these CSC employees provide teaching, cultural awareness, counselling and general services to Aboriginal offenders.  They are a part of the case management team for an Aboriginal offender.

Appeal – a request for an authority to take a second look at a particular decision.

Community Assessment – this report indicates the level of support that an offender has while in custody and in the community.  This is one of many sources of information used by PBC in making a decision about parole or other types of release from the penitentiary.

Community Correctional Centre - Community Correctional Centres (CCCs) are operated by CSC. They provide structured living environments with 24-hour supervision. They provide housing for offenders on unescorted temporary absences, work release and day parole. CCCs also provide housing for offenders on full parole, statutory release and long-term supervision orders where the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) has imposed a special condition to reside.

Community Residential Facility – also called Halfway houses; these facilities contracted from outside agencies or organizations such as the John Howard Society or St. Leonard's Society to house federal offenders who are in the community on some kind of release.

Conditional Release – Under the CCRA, all offenders must be considered for some form of conditional release during their sentence.  Conditional release does not mean the sentence is shortened, it means that part of the sentence may be served in the community under supervision with specific conditions.  Types of release include temporary absences (escorted and unescorted), day parole, full parole and statutory release.  Every offender released on conditional release will be subject to conditions as prescribed by section 133 and 134.1 of the CCRA and include living in a community approved by the parole supervisor, reporting to the parole supervisor, obeying the law and keeping the peace, carrying the release certificate and identity card at all times, and not owning or possessing a weapon. There can also be special conditions imposed such as not having contact or associating with certain persons, geographical restrictions, abstaining from the use of alcohol or drugs and participation in counselling.  

Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) – the legislation that governs the corrections and parole system in Canada.  The CCRA outlines the responsibilities and authorities of the Correctional Service of Canada, the Parole Board of Canada and the Office of the Correctional Investigator.

Correctional Plan – this is a plan developed for each offender based on the Offender Intake Assessment. It lists all of the programs and activities that the offender should participate in.  Progress in working on the plan is taken into consideration when making decisions about the offender such as security classification.

CSC Regional Victim Services Manager – the CSC Regional Victim Services Manager oversees the delivery of victim services in each of the five regions in Canada.

CSC Victim Services Officer – employees of the CSC who are responsible for providing notifications and information to victims of federal offenders.  They can assist victims with registering to receive information about the offender who harmed them.

Dangerous Offender – under section 753 of the Criminal Code of Canada, an offender may be deemed by a judge during sentencing to be a dangerous offender if it can be shown that there is a significant risk that the offender will commit a future violent or sexual offence.

Detention – allows for PBC to render a decision to detain offenders at their statutory release date if it is believed that the offender is likely to commit an offence causing serious harm or death prior to the expiry of his or her sentence.  Detention ends at the Warrant Expiry Date.

Federal offender – someone who is serving a sentence of imprisonment of two years or more.  The sentence is then served in a penitentiary.

Government of Canada Travel Directive – the Government posts rules on the kinds of travel costs that they will pay for as well as the amounts that will be paid.  This information can be found on the Treasury Board of Canada website at http://www.njc-cnm.gc.ca/directive/travel-voyage/index-eng.php.

Governor-in-Council appointments – an appointment made by the Governor General on the advice of the Privy Council (i.e. the Government Cabinet).

Hearing – PBC holds a hearing for certain reviews. They are conducted by either one or two Board members depending on the type of decision and are normally held in the institution where the offender is incarcerated and sometimes include the use of video conference. During the hearing, PBC Board members will ask the offender questions to help Board members in their decision. They will also hear from the CSC Parole Officer who has prepared the recommendation. A victim may also present a statement to the Board with respect to the review. 

Indeterminate Sentence – the sentence ordered by a judge for an indefinite amount of time. The person would remain in prison for as long as deemed necessary because they remain a threat.

Inmate Count – the number of inmates in the penitentiary at any given time.

Institutional Security Level – institutions are classified as minimum, medium and maximum security. The offender will be placed in a particular security level according to the assessment of risk.

Jurisdiction – in this context, jurisdiction refers to the division of responsibilities for offenders between the federal and provincial levels of government. Offenders sentenced to two years or more serve their sentence in a federal penitentiary.  Offenders sentenced to less than two years serve their sentence in a provincial prison.

Lock-up – the time when all inmates must be in their cells and the individual cell doors are locked.

Long-term Offender – courts may designate an offender as a Long-term Offender. Long-Term Offenders are sentenced for the offence which must be a minimum of 2 years imprisonment, and an order that the offender be subject to long-term supervision for a period that does not exceed 10 years. Breach of the order is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Long-term Supervision Order – the period of supervision in the community that is given to a Long-Term Offender.

Observers (at a PBC hearing) – those who are in the hearing room to observe the hearing (for example, victims, media, members of the general public).

Offence – actions that are listed in the Criminal Code as being against the law.

Offender Assistant at a PBC hearing – this person attends a PBC hearing with the offender to provide advice and support. The law states that offenders have the right to an assistant of their choice at their hearing.

Offender Intake Assessment (OIA) – each inmate goes through this process which established their security level, pulls together documents such as the police report and victim impact statements. This process can take up to 90 calendar days from the offender's admission to the penitentiary. During the OIA, a Correctional Plan is designed, outlining how the offender's problem areas will be addressed throughout the sentence including any court-ordered obligation such as restitution to victims or child support.

Parole – Parole is a type of conditional release that allows an offender to serve part of their sentence in the community. It assists in the gradual and safe reintegration of an offender under the strict supervision of a Parole Supervisor, with conditions that must be followed to reduce the offender's risk of re-offending and to protect the community.

PBC Regional Manager of Community Relations and Training – oversees the delivery of victim services in each of the five regions in Canada.

PBC Regional Communications Officer – an employee of PBC who assists victims by accompanying them to Parole Board hearings, preparing victims to attend and make statements at hearings, and in registering victims to receive information and notifications about the offender who harmed them.

Penitentiary – in Canada, a prison for those who have sentences of more than two years.

Provincial offender – an offender who is serving a sentence of less than two years. A Provincial offender serves his or her sentence in a provincial prison.

Registered victim – a victim who has requested to receive information about the offender who harmed them from CSC or PBC and who meets the CCRA definition or criteria of victim.

Registry of Decisions – a registry of all PBC conditional release decisions along with the reasons for those decisions, which can be accessed through a written request by victims or anyone with an interest in a specific case.

Release Certificate – this document contains all of the conditions that are imposed on an offender when they are released and the details of PBC decision relating to the release.  The offender is required to keep this Certificate on them at all times while on release.

Restorative Justice Approaches – an approach to justice that promotes healing for victims, meaningful accountability for offenders and the involvement of citizens in creating healthier, safer communities.

Revoke – in the case of parole or statutory release, a revocation will result in the offender being reincarcerated to serve their sentence. Only PBC can revoke a release.

Sentence – the judge imposes a sentence after a person is found guilty of a crime. This sentence could include a period of imprisonment.

Sentencing Hearing – a hearing before the Judge where the sentence is decided.

Statutory Release – The law requires that offenders be released to the community under supervision after serving two-thirds of their sentence.  This type of release is called Statutory Release. Statutory release does not apply to offenders who are serving a life or indeterminate sentence, and PBC may order that an offender be detained beyond his or her statutory release date and to the expiry of his or her sentence if PBC is convinced that the offender, if released to the community, is likely to commit an offence causing death or serious harm, a sexual offence involving a child, or a serious drug offence before the end of the sentence.

Victim Statement – at any time, a victim may provide a statement for consideration to CSC or PBC which describes the ongoing physical, emotional and financial impact of the crime as well as any concerns the victim may have for their safety or the safety of the community. A victim may also present a statement at a PBC hearing regarding concerns should the offender be granted parole or to request that special conditions be imposed. A registered victim may also present this statement, in person or by audio or video recording, at a PBC hearing.

Warrant Expiry Date – The date the criminal sentence, as imposed by the court at the time of sentencing, officially ends.

Work Release – a program of release for a specific period of time, supervised by a CSC staff member or organization as authorized by the institutional head for the purpose of work or community service outside the penitentiary.

Footnotes

  1. 1

    In these two provinces, victims of offenders serving less than two years should contact provincial parole boards for information.

  2. 2

    With the exception of CSC notifying family members of murder victims when offenders do not apply for judicial review as per subsection 745.6(2.8) of the Criminal Code of Canada.

  3. 3

    If the Chairperson of PBC (or delegated staff) determines that the interest of the victim clearly outweighs an invasion of the offender's privacy that could result from the disclosure.

  4. 4

    If the Commissioner of CSC (or delegated staff) determines that the disclosure of the information would not have a negative impact on the safety of the public.

  5. 5

    Section 100.1 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act states: ‘'The protection of society is the paramount consideration for the Board and the provincial parole boards in the determination of all cases.''

  6. 6

    Offenders convicted of murder before December 2, 2011, with a parole eligibility date of greater than 15 years may apply to the courts to have the eligibility date reduced under Section 745.6 of the Criminal Code (Judicial Review) after having served 15 years of their sentence. If a unanimous jury, sitting in the province where the offender was convicted, finds there is enough evidence that the offender has been sufficiently rehabilitated to justify allowing consideration for conditional release, the offender's parole eligibility dates may be lowered. Note that a victim may provide information at a judicial review hearing either orally or in writing. Even though an offender's parole eligibility date is lowered, the PBC still retains the authority to deny or grant parole to an offender.

  7. 7

    Subsection 745.6(2.8) of the Criminal Code.

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