Annual Report of the Office of the Correctional Investigator
Date: October 16, 2020
Classification: Under embargoed until tabled
Fully releasable (ATIP)? Yes
Branch / Agency: CSCCB
The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is expected to table the 2019-2020 Annual Report of the Office of the Correctional Investigator (OCI) on October 27. The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) and the Minister of Public Safety Canada’s official responses are included separately as annexes in the OCI report.
- Our Government welcomes the findings and recommendations made by the Correctional Investigator of Canada in his Annual Report.
- The Office of the Correctional Investigator plays a critical role in assisting the Correctional Service of Canada in fulfilling its mandate to support offender rehabilitation and maintain public safety by identifying areas that can be improved in the federal correctional system.
- In the 2019-2020 Annual Report, the Correctional Investigator has reported on three important issues: education and vocational training for federal offenders; therapeutic ranges; and sexual coercion and violence in CSC institutions. There is also a recommendation regarding the deeply personal issue of Medical Assistance in Dying within correctional institutions.
- Each of these issues requires careful consideration and meaningful action to address the recommendations. While some work is underway already, more can and will be done.
- I look forward to working closely with the Office of the Correctional Investigator and the Correctional Service of Canada to ensure that we achieve enhanced results in the areas identified in this report.
Under the provisions of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) (Part III), the Correctional Investigator (CI) serves as the Ombudsman for federal offenders. His primary responsibility is to independently investigate and facilitate resolution of offender issues.
The CCRA stipulates that the CI shall, within three months after the end of each fiscal year, submit a report to the Minister of the activities of the Office of the Correctional Investigator (OCI) during that year. The Minister is required to table the report in Parliament within the first 30 sitting days following its receipt. The 2019-2020 Annual Report of the OCI was submitted to the Minister on June 26, 2020 and is therefore is expected to be tabled in Parliament on October 27, 2020.
The Annual Report for 2019 - 20 provides 13 recommendations, nine of which are directed to CSC and the remaining four are directed to the Minister of Public Safety. Recommendations are centred around three main themes: Sexual Coercion and Violence (SCV) within correctional institutions; therapeutic ranges at male maximum security institutions, and; educational and vocational training offered to offenders in institutions. There is also a recommendation on the medical ethics of access to Medical Assistance in Dying within correctional institutional settings, offender transportation, independent patient advocacy and the use of distraction devices.
Sexual Coercion and Violence (SCV) involving Inmates in Correctional Institutions
The report made four recommendations to CSC and two to the Minister of Public Safety related to SCV in institutions. The recommendations include the development of an evidence-based strategy for the prevention of SCV as well as a Commissioner’s Directive; education, awareness and training programs on SCV, as well as a specific flag in OMS for perpetrators. The recommendations to the Minister were to direct CSC to designate funds for a national prevalence study and introduce a legislative package that endorses a zero-tolerance approach to sexual violence and establishes a public reporting mechanism.
A zero-tolerance approach to SCV is consistent with CSC’s policy and is fundamental to its operations. CSC’s priority is to protect the physical and mental health and overall safety of those who live and work within federal correctional institutions. CSC agrees with the OCI that it is important to gain a better understanding of SCV in Canada.
CSC will assist with the research plan that has been developed by Public Safety, which will begin assessing SCV in federal corrections. The research will collect information and data in order to identify gaps in knowledge. The research will consider the unique challenges faced by vulnerable populations, including inmates with prior trauma, LGBTQ2+, women, and those with mental health issues. An interim report on the work undertaken is set to be developed by Spring 2021 and will help inform future actions required to detect, prevent, and respond to sexual violence in correctional institutions.
Moreover, given the serious nature of the issue, the Minister of Public Safety has agreed to write to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security requesting that consideration be given to undertaking an independent study, along with a report on their findings, on SCV in federal corrections.
The report recommends that CSC conduct an external review of its Therapeutic Range resourcing model, and ensures that bed capacity and staffing reflects the needs of Mental Health Services.
CSC is committed to conducting a thorough review of Therapeutic Ranges by the end of 2022. The review will draw on the knowledge of external experts and will be led by our National Senior Psychologist. This review will also consider recommendations put forward in an external review completed for CSC on the integration of traditional and Western healing and options for implementation on Therapeutic Ranges. The purpose of the review will be to ensure that a therapeutic environment has been implemented and that opportunities for treatment interventions and work with Elders and Indigenous services staff are maximized.
CSC will continue reviewing infrastructure and staffing requirements required to support a therapeutic environment, including optimal placement for observation cells and Pinel Restraint System beds.
Addressing the mental health needs of offenders through timely assessment, effective management, appropriate intervention, relevant staff training and rigorous oversight is a corporate priority for CSC. The Correctional Service of Canada has an integrated Mental Health Strategy and a mental health service delivery model to ensure essential mental health care services match the needs of the offender population. Offenders have access to mental health care provided by qualified mental health professionals and are based on an individual’s need assessment.
Educational and Vocational training
The report recommends that the Minister of PS establish an expert working group in order to guide implementation of the OCI’s current and past recommendations on education and vocational training in federal corrections.
Reintegration outcomes for federal offenders can be improved through access to opportunities that contribute to rehabilitation such as education and vocational training. In line with its mandate to support reintegration of offenders, CSC has committed to modernizing its education program.
CSC will review and consider all recommendations made by external and internal partners and stakeholders to improve vocational training and education for those in federal correctional facilities.
There are currently a number of initiatives in progress that are planned to be implemented, evaluated and reported on, therefore an expert working group, as recommended by the Correctional Investigator, will not be introduced at this time. It may be considered later, once the current initiatives have been evaluated and, where appropriate, implemented. The Commissioner will provide an update to the Minister of Public Safety on progress in June 2021.
CSC agrees that digital literacy is a critical element of a modern education and has begun work toward improving it. For example, CSC will be implementing the Digital Education pilot project at Bath Institution by the end of this fiscal year. This digital Learning Management System will enable offenders to obtain specific high school credits through restricted internet connectivity to approved sites via a Virtual Private Network (VPN). CSC will review the pilot project and use what it learns to explore possible further expansion of online educational and training activities for offenders. Future improvements will be balanced with security requirements and are dependent on resource availability.
It should be noted that CSC has already developed and implemented comprehensive programs, intervention, educational and employment strategies so that offenders can acquire tools and skills they need to safely transition into the community. The relaunch of CSC’s farm employment programs at Collins Bay and Joyceville institutions is a great example of this. More specifically, institutional and community employment initiatives across the country have been enhanced for women offenders to meet their employment needs.
CSC continues to work with Indigenous communities and partners at the national, regional and local levels to respond to the needs of Indigenous offenders. The Indigenous Offender Employment Initiative continues to build on its successes since implementation in 2017.
Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID)
The report recommends that the Minister of PS, jointly with the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, create an expert Committee to deliberate on the ethical and practical matter of MAID in all places of detention.
The Minister is mindful of the fact that the Department of Justice has recently reviewed the federal MAID legislation, in consultation with Canadians, experts, practitioners, stakeholders, Indigenous groups, as well as provinces and territories.
CSC is solely responsible for any matters related to the implementation of the MAID legislation in federal penitentiaries, and CSC and the PBC share responsibility for various release options for offenders related to their choice to access MAID. However, it is also recognized that the assistance of medical ethics and other experts reviewing this complex and deeply personal issue will be beneficial to inform MAID in a correctional institution setting.
The Minister of Public Safety has committed to conducting a review of the medical ethics of MAID in correctional settings by the end of 2021 to better understand and address any outstanding issues.
Prepared by: Bailey Milne, Officer Parliamentary Relations (CSC) Genevieve Ratelle, Senior Policy Analyst, 613-298-0106(PS)
Approved by: Kirstan Gagnon, Assistant Commissioner, Communications and Engagement, 613-995-6867
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