Standard Operating Practices

Official Languages

OBJECTIVE

  1. To ensure CSC's compliance with the Official Languages Act and related regulations on services to the public.

DEFINITIONS

  1. "Health Services" include services provided by nurses, physicians, psychologists and psychiatrists, and all relevant documentation that is accessible to an offender.
  2. "Minority official language" is English in Quebec and French in all other provinces and in the territories.
  3. "Significant demand" occurs when five per cent (5%) or more of offenders in an operational unit in Quebec indicate that English is their preferred official language, or when five per cent (5%) or more of offenders in an operational unit outside of Quebec indicate that French is their preferred official language.
  4. "Substantive communications" include all oral or written communications involving the provision of services and programs to offenders and communications involved in disciplinary actions. Casual communications between staff and offenders are excluded from this category.

SERVICES TO OFFENDERS

Designation of Operational Units

  1. Operational units shall be designated as having either comprehensive or basic official languages obligations towards offenders. The designation shall be based on significant demand.

Comprehensive Obligations

  1. In operational units where there is a significant demand for services in the minority official language, CSC has the statutory obligation to offer and provide the offenders, in their preferred official language, all substantive communications and services. This policy applies whether the communications and services are provided to offenders by CSC's employees or by contract professionals. Operational units that have comprehensive obligations are listed in Annex A of these Standard Operating Practices.

Basic Obligations

  1. In all other operational units, including parole offices and community correctional centres, CSC shall make every reasonable effort to make available to offenders in their preferred official language the following services, whether they are provided by the employees or contract professionals:
    1. placement services;
    2. orientation;
    3. other case management activities;
    4. health care services (institutions only);
    5. chaplaincy;
    6. disciplinary action; and
    7. complaints and grievances process.

Offender Placement and Transfers

  1. The choice of official language is a significant factor in offender placement and transfer decisions. Offenders shall be informed of the language consequences of their potential placement and transfers. As a general rule, offenders who state a preference for the minority official language are not to be placed in, or transferred to, operational units not listed in Annex A of these Standard Operating Practices, except under exceptional circumstances.

Available Means of Redress

  1. Offenders must be informed of the various means of redress available to them for infringements of their linguistic rights as defined in the Official Languages Act.

Provision of Treatment Programs in the Minority Official Language

  1. Regions where no operational unit is designated as carrying comprehensive official languages obligations must organize, where feasible, the provision in the minority official language of a reasonable range of treatment programs assessed as being an important component of parole considerations, in operational units where minority official language offenders have historically been incarcerated and/or are likely to be in the future. Such treatment programs are to be made available unless:
    1. the number of interested offenders (actual and potential) does not warrant such provision;
    2. linguistically qualified professionals in the field required are not available in the region.
  2. In operational units where group treatment programs are offered to majority official language offenders, but where the number of minority official language offenders interested in participating in equivalent programs in their language is too small to constitute a viable group, the following alternatives are considered:
    1. the offer of other programs that are needed by a greater number of minority official language offenders;
    2. where feasible, and where security considerations permit, allowing minority official language offenders in different operational units of the same region to form a group in order to participate in the treatment program(s) in their language.

Provision of Secondary Services

  1. Current videos, newspapers and magazines, television signals and library holdings shall be made available in offenders' preferred official language to the greatest extent possible.

Oral Communications

  1. Where an obligation exists for CSC to communicate orally with offenders in their preferred official language, communications will be carried out in English or in French in accordance with the offender's preference. Interpretation services may be used.

Establishing When Services Must Be in Both Official Languages

  1. Regions must monitor, using monthly Offender Management System (OMS) data, the demand for services in the minority language in every responsibility centre.
  2. Monthly reports will be prepared on the first week of every month.
  3. If in a particular site, the demand exceeds five per cent (5%) for a period of six consecutive months, then the site shall establish a plan to respond to the demand. Should this demand continue for an additional six consecutive months, the plan shall be implemented.
  4. The operational unit shall be re-designated and added to Annex A of these Standard Operating Practices. The same procedure applies to an operational unit which drops below five per cent (5%) for a period of twelve consecutive months. The operational unit shall be deleted from Annex A of these Standard Operating Practices.

Language(s) Used in Disciplinary Courts

  1. The disciplinary hearing court is not subject to Part III of the Official Languages Act because this court is not a body that carries out adjudicative functions.
  2. The disciplinary hearing shall be conducted in the official language of the inmate's choice. If an accused inmate is deaf or does not speak or understand either of the official languages, an interpreter shall be provided by CSC.
  3. A CSC employee who is called to testify by the chairperson of a disciplinary court has the right to use either official language in accordance with Part V of the Official Languages Act.
  4. When an institution is located in a region designated bilingual, for the purpose of language of work under Part V of the Official Languages Act, the employee is entitled to testify in the official language of his or her choice, regardless of the inmate's preferred official language.
  5. In such circumstances, an inmate who is unable to understand an employee's testimony has the right to the services of an interpreter in accordance with the principles of procedural fairness which requires that the inmate be able to understand the proceedings.
  6. In unilingual regions a CSC employee shall testify in the majority official language of the region. An inmate who is unable to understand an employee's testimony has the right to the services of an interpreter in accordance with the principles of procedural fairness which requires that the inmate be able to understand the proceedings.

CSC'S OBLIGATIONS TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC

  1. The National and Regional Headquarters offices as well as the operational units in Annex A of these Standard Operating Practices have the statutory obligation to communicate orally and in writing with members of the general public in the latter's official language of choice. Communications include telephone reception and follow-up, visitor reception and correspondence. These services shall be offered on a proactive basis.
  2. All operational units have the obligation to ensure that the response to written communications received from members of the general public is in the official language chosen by the correspondent.
  3. Each CSC office that is subject to this obligation has an equivalent obligation to inform members of the public that they may use either official language, through, as appropriate, bilingual signage, notices and visitor and telephone reception.

Commissioner,

Original signed by

Lucie McClung

For more information

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