Citizen Advisory Committees Annual Report 2010-2011

Opening Remarks from the National Chair

I am pleased to submit the 2010-2011 Annual Report for Citizen Advisory Committees (CAC). The report reflects the good work and best practices of CACs across Canada and identifies some of the challenges we face ahead.

The National Executive Committee (NEC) develops and implements CAC’s national objectives and coordinates consultation on behalf of our membership. The NEC also provides recommendations to CSC on its policies, programs, and operations. Over the past two years the NEC has contributed to several key activities.

Members commented on the proposed Commissioner’s Directive on Provision of Support Services at Coroner’s Inquests (CD 048). The policy deals with measures to support staff and ensure effective and timely decision-making when CSC is involved in a coroner’s inquest.

The NEC provided CSC with advice relating to the proposed Commissioner’s Directive on Prevention and Management of Self-Injurious and Suicidal Behaviour (CD 843). The policy addresses procedures CSC staff should undertake to ensure the safety of inmates who are self-injurious or suicidal.

CSC also requested feedback on its proposed Federal Community Corrections Strategy. CAC members took part in the consultation via a questionnaire.

Members also voiced their views on proposals related to a correctional mental health strategy, new federal crime legislation, prison expansions, and the closure of farms that provide employment and training to offenders.

The NEC continues to canvas our membership on identifying best practices in the recruitment and training of new members.

In the last report, I identified three themes for my tenure as National Chair: renew, re-organize and re-energize. Regeneration, in the context of membership, is essential. CACs in almost every region of Canada have struggled to recruit new members. This year’s annual report explains how some CACs are rebuilding our membership. Though there has been some success, further work is required.

I would like to thank the CAC’s executive team and membership for volunteering their time to develop and enhance the role of CACs at all levels. Your time and effort is reflected in the organization’s many achievements.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge CSC’s staff across the country who contributed to the success of citizen engagement, as well as the Commissioner and senior staff for their encouragement and continued support as we meet new challenges in the future.

Thank you,

Ron Joiner
Chair, National Executive Committee

National CAC Profile

Citizen Advisory Committees (CACs) represent volunteers who work with CSC and other partners to enhance the quality of Canada’s correctional services and programs. Their work is summed up in three words: observe, liaise and advise. In the past year, CACs have increased in size and new committees have been created where none existed before. There are 91 active CACs across Canada, representing more than 425 members in five regions.

Region Number of CAC sites Number of CAC volunteers
Atlantic 11 65
Quebec 22 87
Ontario 19 50
Prairie 22 120
Pacific 17 103

Annual CAC Regional Reports – 2010-2011
Highlights and Best Practices

Atlantic Region

  • There are 11 active CACs; the number of members in each ranges from one to nine. Cape Breton Parole and Kentville Parole CAC did not operate due to lack of volunteers.
  • The region continues to focus on a number of objectives: strengthening communication among the CAC membership; recruitment and retention; and building capacity through training and orientation sessions.
  • To build support for CACs and raise public awareness, the CAC in Springhill made presentations to two towns and communities and participated in a social event with offenders. The CAC in Dorchester Penitentiary continued its review of programs available to offenders who have reintegrated into the community.
  • The Charlottetown CAC Parole partnered with the Native Council of PEI to organize and present an Incarceration and Aboriginal Mental Healing workshop. Participants provided positive feedback.
  • The Halifax Parole CAC began development of a resource booklet that parole officers can use to identify counseling services, employment agencies and job training in the community.
  • The CAC at Westmorland institution held an employment forum in May. Some offenders may find jobs repairing trucks through a contract with DND. Landscaping, and culinary programs for offenders could provide other possibilities.
  • The regional CAC in Newfoundland and Labrador was actively involved in a recycling initiative. Proceeds will go to a community organization later this year.

Doug Barrett- Atlantic Regional Chair

Quebec Region

  • Quebec region has 22 active CACs and 87 members. We continue to focus on two priorities: raising awareness of the role of CACs with CSC staff and the public; and providing more training and support to our members, many of whom are concerned about their ability to carry out CAC’s mandate due to operational issues and poor communications with CSC staff in some locations To address that issue, CSC’s Regional Coordinator of Community Outreach is now discussing the role of the CACs in training provided to parole officers.
  • In March, the Regional Executive Committee (REX) helped organize a regional conference called “Reintegration: a shared mission!” The conference stressed the importance of complementary and continued service between CSC and its partners. Nearly 100 people attended, many of whom were CAC members.
  • Ten new members attended a training session given at the Donnacona institution.
  • In Joliette, CAC members visited the Thérèse-Casgrain Halfway House for women and took part in an employment forum organized by CSC in collaboration with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Quebec.
  • The Regional Reception Centre CAC worked on development of a new toolkit. Members also participated in training related to street gangs and “job shadowing” CSC employees working in a variety of areas.
  • In Longueil, the CAC organized two cooking sessions that were attended by approximately thirty participants, in addition to a Parole Officer and a parolee. CAC members also had the opportunity to participate in a Parole Board of Canada hearing.
  • At the Donnacona institution, CAC members joined a delegation of representatives from Singapore who visited the prison to get a first-hand look at Canada’s correctional services system.
  • A CAC regional executive member and the Archambault CAC Chair participated in a symposium on mental health hosted by the Quebec Criminology Society.
  • CAC members across the province participated in various activities, including: the opening of a hall for seniors; volunteer recognition ceremonies; events in support of multiculturalism and Aboriginal people; a medal ceremony; as well as conferences on employment, mental health and issues related to female offenders.

Bernard Tremblay- Quebec Regional Chair

Ontario Region

  • Ontario region had 19 active CAC this year. We experienced significant growth in membership by actively recruiting new members. In Kingston, 79 people attended CAC’s Open House event. The recruitment campaign was so successful; we hope to repeat the event next year. In total, nine new members joined our ranks in Ontario.
  • We also strengthened engagement activities with our members. A training session was held at Regional headquarters, as well as at some local CAC sites which had attracted new members. This strategy worked well and we will continue this approach in future years. Work also continued on creation of a training package for institutional CAC members. One is also being developed for our parole sites.
  • The London Parole CAC helped prepare income tax forms for parolees.
  • Ottawa Parole CAC created a community information resource guide for use by offenders and parole officers.
  • CAC members at Warkworth institution were requested by CSC staff to act as observers during several institutional disturbances
  • CAC members working at Fenbrook and Beaver Creek institutions held a special forum dealing with Aboriginal issues.
  • The CAC member at Frontenac institution participated in a meeting to hear community concerns about the closure of farms used to employ and train offenders.
  • The CAC at Millhaven is helping develop a recycling program in the institution.
  • CACs at Pittsburg and Joyceville institutions worked together to identify potential employers in the community, particularly those interested in helping older offenders, who have greater difficulty finding work.
  • Peterborough Parole CAC distributed an updated community contacts and telephone list used by offenders returning to the community.
  • Toronto East Parole CAC participated in ride-alongs with the parole officers and worked on connecting offenders and CSC staff with the Durham Region Unemployed Help Centre.

Sharon Mitchell - Ontario Regional Chair

Prairie Region

  • The Prairie Region has 22 CACs with approximately 120 members. Two committees became inactive due to the lack of sufficient members. To support training goals, fourteen members participated in two orientation sessions held this year.
  • The Prairie Region faces many challenges due to the diversity of our communities and population, the sheer number of institutions and parole offices, and a significant geographical area covered. Three themes remain prevalent: committee governance and recruitment; training and professional development; and increasing public awareness about CAC activities.
  • Parole Office committees are focusing recruitment efforts on First Nations and ethno cultural communities. Word-of-mouth and direct appeals to individuals continue to be the most effective methods of attracting new members. Other recruitment efforts consisted of appeals to community organizations and agencies, participation at a university volunteer fair, information booths and presentations at community events.
  • CAC members took part in open houses, graduations, change of command ceremonies, holiday luncheons, Pow-Wows, staff information sessions, award ceremonies, volunteer appreciation/recognition, training opportunities, emergency scenario exercises and cultural events.
  • CAC Awareness Week remained one of the priorities for raising public awareness about our committees and their activities.

Karen Wright - Prairie Region Chair

Pacific Region

  • Pacific Region has 17 CACs with 103 members. This past year has presented some challenges; some CACs are struggling to hold existing members and almost all sites have indicated that recruitment remains a significant challenge. The CAC Chair and Regional CSC Coordinator conducted orientation sessions in May, September and November. Thirty-three people attended these sessions.
  • We are striving to recruit members who represent different ages, diversities, and interests.
  • The CACs have indentified the following as priorities in the region: recruitment of new members; assignment of specific activities to CAC members; and increased engagement with stakeholders and the community.
  • The Nanaimo Parole CAC continued its tradition of holding a meeting on First Nations territory, incorporating cultural protocols such as prayers and drumming. The Vancouver Parole CAC also held a meeting with the Chief of Beecher Bay Band. These activities aim to educate First Nations members about CSC and CAC and to encourage First Nation people to become CAC members.
  • The Kwikwexwelhp CAC worked with Telmexw Awtexw, a residential healing program in Sts’ailesand Kwikwexwelhp, on a project to build ocean-going canoes. Offenders will help build canoes, which Kwikwtealex will use for sea journeys.
  • New Westminster Parole CAC collaborated with New Westminster Parole Office, Simon Fraser University (SFU), School of Criminology, and Douglas College Department of Criminology to present a series of four public forums on Canadian justice and correctional systems. Forum topics covered: Women Offenders in the Community; Restorative Justice: Reflections of the Past, Present and Future; Addictions and Corrections; and Population Aging and the Challenge for Corrections.
  • CACs across the province interacted with communities through public awareness forums, open houses, barbeques for staff and the public, information booths at local activities, interviews with the press and speaking engagements at local colleges during CAC Awareness Week.

Bob Marshall - Pacific Regional Chair