Ministerial Direction to the Correctional Service of Canada
Information Sharing: Security Classification and Transfer of Offenders
The Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) requires Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the penitentiary in which an inmate is confined is the least restrictive environment. This statutory principle is in keeping with the principles of rehabilitation, proportionality, and the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
By the same token, the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights provides that victims have the right to information about an offender or accused person. Specifically, victims have a right to convey their views about decisions to be made by appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system that affect the victim’s rights and to have those views considered, such as through victim impact statements. These expectations are clearly set out in the Victims Bill of Rights.
Victims’ rights and the rights of offenders are equally important. An effective balance must be made between these rights when CSC is sharing information about offenders with victims.
As it stands, an offender is transferred from one federal institution to another in accordance with the CCRA, the Corrections and Conditional Release Regulations (CCRR), and correctional policies, and a victim is defined as someone who chooses to be officially recorded as a victim of crime or as a victim representative with CSC and the Parole Board of Canada, who registers through Victims Services, and may receive information about a transfer from maximum to medium security after it occurs, should they elect to do so.
More can be done to ensure that a trauma-informed and victim-sensitive approach is factored into the decision making process as regards transfers and security classifications. This means meaningfully engaging with victims to elicit input on a transfer prior to its occurrence.
In their provision of services to victims of federal offenders, I expect CSC to provide victims with an opportunity, should they elect to do so, to share an updated victim statement for consideration as part of the security classification and transfer decision-making process. Currently, this process incorporates any victim statements already on file, but these statements may be dated.
These expectations are not intended to derogate from CSC’s operational independence or its full discretion over inmate transfers and security classifications. Rather, it responds to years of concerns pertaining to a lack of information sharing with victims with respect to decisions of this nature. These concerns have been articulated by the Federal Ombudsperson for Victims of Crime.
Pursuant to subsection 6(1) of the CCRA, and further to the above, I have issued the following directive to specify my expectations of CSC, when CSC is considering supporting an offender transfer:
- In accordance with the recommendations made by the Office of the Federal Ombudsperson for Victims of Crime in 2019, CSC will:
- Gather and consider victim information at the outset of the decision making process or as soon as a voluntary transfer request is being considered for support by CSC.
- Use the victim flag system referenced in the CSC’s January 28, 2014 Case Management Bulletin, Notification to Victim Services Units and Consideration of Victims’ Concerns as part of the decision making in all voluntary transfers as soon as CSC initiates the process of assessment for a transfer being considered for support by CSC, at the time of receipt of the application for transfer. This will allow victim services officers to proactively collect input from victims. This must be done in advance of the Assessment for Decision.
- Make changes to policy to require all CSC staff to always consider whether any victims live near the institution to which the transfer is being considered, and wherever possible, transfer the offender to another institution.
- With respect to item 1, the CSC should work closely with the Office of the Federal Ombudsperson for Victims of Crime and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to implement the above recommendations.
- Prior to transferring a high-profile offender to any reduced security level, the Commissioner of CSC or their delegate will notify the Minister of Public Safety, formally and directly.
- Implement the recommendations set out in the “Review into the Transfer of an Inmate from Millhaven Institution to La Macaza Institution on May 29, 2023” (Report submitted on June 26, 2023).
- Report back to me within 30 days on the implementation of this directive.
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