Audit of Employment and Employability Programs for Offenders

Internal Audit Report

378-1-280

2013-12-16

Executive Summary

Background

The purpose of the federal correctional system is to contribute to the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by:

  1. carrying out sentences imposed by courts through the safe and humane custody and supervision of offenders; and
  2. assisting the rehabilitation of offenders and their reintegration into the community as law-abiding citizens through the provision of programs in penitentiaries and in the community.Footnote 1

One of the key manner in which the Correctional Service Canada (CSC) is to accomplish this mandate is by providing programs that contribute to the rehabilitation of offenders and to their successful reintegration into the community.Footnote 2 This includes programs on employment and employability of offenders. At CSC, offenders are offered educational programs, vocational programs, as well as actual employment within institutions. This employment can be directly for an institution or via CORCAN, which is a Special Operating Agency within CSC that has the specific mandate to offer employment and employability programming.

The Audit of Employment and Employability Programs for Offenders was conducted as part of Correctional Service Canada’s (CSC) Internal Audit Sector’s 2013-2016 Risk-Based Audit Plan. This audit links to CSC’s corporate priorities. These include the "safe transition to and management of eligible offenders in the community", the "safety and security of staff and offenders in our institutions and in the community" and "efficient and effective management practices that reflect value-based leadership". Additionally, the Audit of Employment and Employability Programs for Offenders links to the following CSC corporate risks that "CSC will not be able to respond to the needs of a complex and diverse population" and that "CSC will not be able to maintain required levels of operational safety and security".

The Transformation Agenda continues to be of utmost importance to CSC and since March 2010, the many initiatives established under this agenda have been integrated into CSC’s operations and plans. These initiatives have better positioned CSC to effectively manage today’s offender population and meet new challenges.Footnote 3 Some of these inter-related initiatives fall under the theme of "enhancing correctional programs and employability skills of offenders".

Employment and employability for offenders is the business of CSC, which includes CORCAN. Outside of CORCAN, other CSC areas have an interest in employment and employability, including Offender Programs and Reintegration, Women Offender Sector, Aboriginal Initiatives Directorate, Community Reintegration and Corporate Services.

CORCAN is a Special Operating Agency (SOA) that operates within CSC and uses a revolving fund and its own revenue to finance its operations. CSC provides CORCAN a correctional training fee to offset the costs of operating in a correctional environment as required by the CORCAN Special Operating Agency Charter Document 1992. CORCAN generates revenue by selling goods and services that are produced by offenders employed for that purpose. Employment programs at CORCAN are done in various shops at 36 sites across the country and include various business lines. Employability programs at CORCAN include vocational training designed to help offenders become more employable when they reintegrate into the community.

Institutional employment programs include activities such as maintenance, custodial duties or kitchen work. By contributing to institutional operation and maintenance, offenders help to reduce the costs to the government of their incarceration and rehabilitation.

Audit Objectives and Scope

The audit objectives were to provide reasonable assurance that:

  • the management framework was in place to support employment and employability for offenders at CSC and that it was adequate and effective;
  • controls were in place to ensure that program objectives were achieved; and
  • resources were used in an effective manner to achieve desired results for employment and employability.

The audit was national in scope and included visits or videoconferences with institutions in all five regions. Regional CORCAN offices and NHQ were also included. The audit covered the following topics:

  • the governance for employment and employability programs;
  • the referral process for employment;
  • the interim and final report of the offender’s performance at work;
  • the utilization of resources by program management;
  • the accountability of employment and employability programs;
  • CORCAN and institutional offender employment; and
  • vocational training.

The audit did not include Community Employment Centres (CEC) or any other employment activities in the community.

The audit assessed compliance with legislation and CSC policies as they relate to employment and or employability.

Conclusion

As per the first objective, there were elements of a management framework in place but some important pieces were still incomplete or missing. Direction was given by EXCOM as far back as 1999 to integrate all employment and employability under CORCAN but as of the time of this audit, full integration had not taken place. Although there was no specific policy on employment and employability, elements related to the topic and covered under other policies were aligned with legislation. Roles and responsibilities of staff involved with employment and employability at the institutional level and in CORCAN were clearly defined and understood and Correctional Intervention Boards in institutions were generally working very well.

The process to provide employment to an offender was clear and well understood. There was clear evidence that offenders’ needs were identified during intake assessment and that employment and education factors were recorded into the correctional plan. There was also a clear indication that this information was used by staff when assigning an offender to employment and employability programs. Finally, some monitoring was in place as per policy but not always applied.

There are, however, areas within the management framework that need to be strengthened to address issues such as:

  • a formal integrated, documented and communicated vision common to all of CSC would provide the overall direction towards which CSC aims with regards to employment and employability. An initiative was developed to regroup all employment and employability responsibilities under CORCAN. However, it has yet to be implemented;
  • approved and well communicated strategic objectives for both institutional and CORCAN employment and employability to support the vision would also clarify and unify the direction CSC is seeking;
  • a clearly communicated and integrated governance structure would support implementation of the programs; and
  • the finalization of a policy for employment and employability as per the Transformation Agenda would clarify expectations in this area.

With regards to the second objective, the audit team assessed compliance to policies and directives where some of these elements related to employment and employability were present. As such, we noted that some policy requirements were not being followed with regards to the initial assessment.

Finally, with respect to the third objective, we identified some areas where management practices should be improved such as:

  • a better ongoing costing of employment and employability activities needs to be performed by CSC to better understand investments in this key area;
  • the review of CORCAN to ensure cost of employing an offender in CORCAN is covered by revenue streams, even after taking into account the correctional and training fee received needs to be finalised;
  • better performance measures that would allow a valid comparison of vocational training offered across the country are needed; and
  • the current delivery of NESP needs to be assessed.

Recommendations have been made in the report to address these areas for improvement. Management has reviewed and agrees with the findings contained in this report and a Management Action Plan has been developed to address the recommendations (see Annex C).

Management Response

The Assistant Commissioner Correctional Operations and Programs (ACOP) accepts all of the above recommendations as presented in the report.

The long-term plan is to implement a new vision for employment and employability for federal offenders. To support the development of this vision, a detailed action plan identifying, short-, medium, and long-term activities has been developed to address the issues raised in the audit. All actions to address the recommendations are to be fully implemented by March 31, 2015.

Statement of Conformance

In my professional judgment as Chief Audit Executive, sufficient and appropriate audit procedures have been conducted and evidence gathered to support the accuracy of the opinion provided and contained in this report. The opinion is based on a comparison of the conditions, as they existed at the time, against pre-established audit criteria that were agreed on with management. The opinion is applicable only to the area examined.

The audit conforms to the Internal Auditing Standards for Government of Canada, as supported by the results of the quality assurance and improvement program. The evidence gathered was sufficient to provide senior management with proof of the opinion derived from the internal audit.


Sylvie Soucy, CIA
Chief Audit Executive

Date

1.0 Introdution

1.1 Background

The purpose of the federal correctional system is to contribute to the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by:

  1. carrying out sentences imposed by courts through the safe and humane custody and supervision of offenders; and
  2. assisting the rehabilitation of offenders and their reintegration into the community as law-abiding citizens through the provision of programs in penitentiaries and in the community.Footnote 4

One of the key manner in which the Correctional Service Canada (CSC) is to accomplish this mandate is by providing programs that contribute to the rehabilitation of offenders and to their successful reintegration into the community.Footnote 5 This includes programs for employment and employability of offenders. At CSC, offenders are offered educational programs, vocational programs, as well as actual employment within institutions. This employment can be directly for the institution or via CORCAN, which is a Special Operating Agency within CSC that has the specific mandate to offer employment and employability programming. Further details on these programs are provided below.

The Audit of Employment and Employability Programs for Offenders was conducted as part of CSC Internal Audit Sector’s 2012-2015 Risk-Based Audit Plan. This audit links to CSC’s corporate priorities. These include the "Safe transition to and management of eligible offenders in the community", the "Safety and security of staff and offenders in our institutions and in the community" and "efficient and effective management practices that reflect value-based leadership". Additionally, the Audit of Employment and Employability Programs for Offenders links to the following CSC corporate risks: that "CSC will not be able to respond to the needs of a complex and diverse population" and that "CSC will not be able to maintain required levels of operational safety and security".

The Transformation Agenda continues to be of utmost importance to CSC and since March 2010, the many initiatives established under this agenda have been integrated into CSC’s operations and plans. These initiatives have better positioned CSC to effectively manage today’s offender population and meet new challenges.Footnote 6 Some of these inter-related initiatives fall under the theme of "enhancing correctional programs and employability skills of offenders".

This audit is material due to the fact that preparing offenders to find and keep a job once they are released in the community is a key element in the safe reintegration of offenders into society. It is also material in a sense that employment-related initiatives is not only affecting over 8,890 offenders yearly, but is also affecting a large number of offenders who participate in vocational training. Employment and employability activities generate netFootnote 7 expenditures well in excess of $20 million per year.

The following table shows the number of offenders that were assigned to an employment program on April 15, 2012.

Table 1
Number of Offenders Assigned to Employment on April 15, 2012
Footnote 8
Type of Employment Men Offenders Women Offenders Total Offenders
CORCAN 1,648 55 1,703
Employmnet in institutional services 6,880 307 7,187
Total employed 8,528 362 8,890
Total inmate population 13,876 600 14,476

Employment

The responsibility for employment and employability programming is a shared one. At a functional level, the Assistant Commissioner Correctional Operations and Programs (COP), who is responsible for both CORCAN and other areas of intervention, plays a key role. At the operational and implementation level, regions and institutions are also key players. CORCAN has direct involvement in the delivery of employment and employability programming.

Specifically, the COP sector (COPS) participation occurs via CORCAN, the Offender Programs and Reintegration Branch and the Community Reintegration Branch. Other areas of CSC, such as the Women Offender Sector, the Aboriginal Initiatives Directorate and Corporate Services also play a role. Offender Programs and Reintegration is responsible for programs that aim at the reintegration of offenders into the community, such as Social, Educational and Correctional Programs. The Women Offender Sector has designed a National Employment Strategy for Women that provides procedures and guidelines regarding employment and employability of women offenders. Community Reintegration is responsible for offender employment into the community. Corporate Services provides funding for employment into institutions.

The following process flowchart explains how an offender is assigned to an employment or an employability program. The process is the same whether the employment offered is institutional or with CORCAN.

Description:

Intake Assessment leads to Identification of Employment and Employability needs leads to Offender is transferred to an institution leads to Offender is referred to an employability program leads to CIB reviews offender’s employment needs and assign offender to employment.

Description: Intake Assessment leads to Identification of Employment and Employability needs leads to Offender is transferred to an institution leads to Offender is referred to an employability program leads to CIB reviews offender’s employment needs and assign offender to employment.

Employment at CSC Institutions

Institutions are the single largest employer of offenders at CSC (81% of all employment), as shown in table 1 above. Institutional employment programs include jobs like maintenance, custodial duties or kitchen work. By contributing to institutional operations and maintenance, offenders also help to reduce the cost of incarceration and rehabilitation to the Government.

CORCAN Employment

CORCAN Employment programs are delivered in various shops across the country and include various business lines. As a Special Operating Agency (SOA), CORCAN uses a revolving fund and its own revenue to finance its operations. CSC provides CORCAN a correctional training fee to offset the costs of operating in a correctional environment as required by the CORCAN Special Operating Agency Charter Document 1992. CORCAN generates revenue by selling goods and services that are produced by offenders employed for that purpose. By providing offenders with the employment experience and skills they need to become productive citizens when they return to the community, CORCAN plays a key role in CSC's mandate to enhance public safetyFootnote 9.

CORCAN operates in 36 institutions across Canada and has four business lines: textiles, manufacturing, construction, and services (such as printing and laundry)Footnote 10. CORCAN’s shops operate in as businesslike a manner as possible given their institutional setting and training imperatives. CORCAN generated $68 million in trade revenue in FY 2011-2012Footnote 11.

CORCAN is also responsible for providing some vocational training to offenders. These training programs are designed to make offenders more employable when they return to the community.Offenders within institutions require more training and more supervision than regular employees and thus cost more to employ. CORCAN receives an annual correctional and training fee (C&T) from CSC that is intended to offset the extra burden resulting from its institutional setting and their being subjected to government policies and training imperatives.

Research both domestic and international demonstrates that employment programs for offenders are successful in reducing negative offender behaviour during incarceration, reducing post-release recidivism and increasing employment opportunities in the communityFootnote 12.

Research carried out by the Service has shown that experience in the CORCAN work program leads to some reduction in recidivism. Research reported that:

  • offenders participating in CORCAN employment had overall lower rates of admission to segregation in comparison to those who were CSC employed and those non-employed;
  • offenders participating in CORCAN employment had overall fewer institutional charges than CSC employed offenders;
  • sixty-one percent of CORCAN employed offenders were granted day parole in comparison to 41% of CSC employed offenders and 51% of non-employed offenders;
  • CORCAN employed offenders were significantly more likely than CSC employed offenders (1.09 times) and non-employed offenders (1.37 times) to attain a job in the community, even after controlling for important risk factors; and
  • vocational certification in addition to CORCAN employment was found to contribute to an increased likelihood of being released on discretionary release and attaining a job in the community in comparison to being CORCAN employed only.Footnote 13

Research also found that:

Participation in CORCAN was not found to have a significant impact on the length of time that offenders retained their first job post-release.

Consistent with previous research, although the current study did not demonstrate an overall association between CORCAN participation and reductions in recidivism, offenders who were employed in the community were almost three times less likely to be revoked with a new offence than those who were not employed.

Emerging research results suggest that CORCAN helps offenders find employment after release, but raises the issue of how to help offenders retain that initial employment which may provide protection against new offending. The findings further highlight the importance of community employment in reducing the likelihood of reoffending and readmission to federal custody.Footnote 14

In recent years, the focus of employment programs has shifted from teaching offenders trade-specific skills to helping them develop or improve general employability skills that can be applied to diverse job and work situations. This shift is to increase the probability that they will successfully procure and retain employment upon release.

Employability skills refer to a set of proficiencies, attitudes and abilities considered by employers when choosing job candidates. They include:

  • communication;
  • problem solving;
  • managing information;
  • using numbers;
  • working with others;
  • leadership abilities;
  • adaptability;
  • demonstrating positive attitudes and behaviours;
  • being responsible;
  • participating in projects and tasks; and
  • working safely.Footnote 15

Employment Programs

Employability programs at CSC (including CORCAN) include, amongst other things, vocational training designed to help offenders become more employable when they reintegrate into the community and to train them on the basics of the jobs. Vocational training is used to enhance the employability of offenders. The training is required to be certified by a third party to ensure that once offenders are released, the certification will be recognized in the community. To enhance offenders' job readiness and employment skills, CORCAN also works with specialized community organizations to provide vocational training and community recognized certificates linked to the labour market in areas such as construction, culinary arts, welding and carpentry. Vocational training can vary from a few hours to several months to obtain a certification.

Employment and Employability Program

The CORCAN Employment and Employability Program (EEP) targets the development of employability skills in order to maximize the opportunity for offenders to achieve as seamless a community re-entry as possible in terms of being positively and productively engaged. These employability skills are geared to improving the offender’s capacity to find and maintain employment once released to the community. In essence, the purpose of the EEP is to enhance the job readiness of every offender. The success of this program requires the involvement of the Case Management Team, Correctional Programs, Management Services, Provincial Education Departments and CORCAN. Please refer to glossary for definitions.

The objectives of the EEP were endorsed by the Executive Committee in April of 2000, and re-endorsed by CSC’s Evaluation Committee following the closure of the Management Action Plan for the Evaluation Report on this topic in August of 2010. The principles included developing the employability skills of offenders through institutional work experience and basic employability skill courses and linking employment-related activities or interventions that span from intake to community release. This is to ensure that offenders remain employable during incarceration and within the community. Factors including strengths, weaknesses and future goals related to employment become an intrinsic part of the Correctional Plan and release planning. Related deficits must be taken into consideration as a potential barrier to reintegration. The assessment of each offender’s employment needs begins at intake and is part of the offender Intake Assessment process. See the Audit of Intake Assessment for further information on this process.

Offenders are fully assessed with regards to their level of education and the employment domain indications are identified at that time. Offenders with lower education levels are encouraged to upgrade their education. Further employment assessments are completed and all results are included in the narrative of the Correctional Plan, including referrals to the appropriate education, correctional program, vocational program or employment. The Correctional Intervention Board (CIB), which is generally composed of Assistant Warden Intervention, Program Manager and an array of other members that can vary depending on the topics discussed, will then ensure that the assignments are in line with Correctional Plan referrals and identified employment aptitudes, interests and deficits. All case management team members will then be responsible for assessing the offender’s progress in achieving the overall objective of each offender’s EEP target.

Within the Correctional Operations and Programs sector, CORCAN works in collaboration with its counterpart in Offender Programs and Reintegration Branch (OPR).

National Employability Skills Program (NESP)

NESP was developed in collaboration with the Conference Board of Canada and has been available within CSC institutions since 2006. As stated in one of its published document:

CORCAN coordinates and funds the program; however, delivery of the program is shared between CORCAN and Reintegration Programs.Footnote 16

However, in reality the funding is covered by both CORCAN and institutions, depending on local arrangements.

NESP provides employability skills training to incarcerated offenders with identified employment needs. It is delivered to incarcerated offenders in a group format, divided into 15 sessions of 2 to 2.5 hours for a total duration of 30 to 37.5 hours. Offenders participate in this program in tandem with their institutional work placements and their work placement supervisors provide feedback and suggest areas for improvement.

The program targets both men and women offenders assessed upon admission to CSC as having some or considerable employment needs, and who are eligible for release within five years. Employment need is based on factors such as an unstable work history, being unemployed at the time of arrest, and the absence of a skills area, trade, or profession. To be eligible for NESP, offenders must also have a concurrent institutional work assignment (work or school assignment).

NESP is a component of the Employment and Employability Program (EEP). CORCAN is the lead for EEP and vocational training. A National Vocational Steering Committee, chaired by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CORCAN, has been established for the purpose of providing strategic guidance, vision, direction and clarity of accountability for employment and employability programs. Regional Vocational Steering Committees were also established for the purpose of developing an integrated approach to vocational training planning. They are co-chaired by the Regional Directors of CORCAN and the Directors of Interventions in the regions. In 2009 the relationship between key players in this area was further detailed in a memo sent by the Assistant Commissioner Correctional Operations and Programs to key stakeholders.

The 2010 evaluation of NESP concluded that women participants to NESP were more likely to gain employment upon release than male offenders. There were variations in program availability and enrolment rates across regions, and the majority of work supervisors interviewed reported that they were not familiar with NESP.

In FY 2010-2011, several factors impacted the delivery of NESP. CORCAN was no longer in a position to fund the program at levels previously attained; the Reintegration Programs Branch was not able to provide the resources to deliver the program due to workload priorities of the Social Program Officers; and maintaining trained facilitators at the site level was difficult due to staff turnover.

In FY 2011-2012, CORCAN made a commitment to support the delivery of the program due to the significant investment already made in developing the program. The future of the program is dependent on securing an on-going funding commitment.Footnote 17

At the time of the audit, this issue was yet to be resolved.

Community Employment Services

Community Employment Services (CES) is a group that is responsible for employment activities in the community. It has Community Employment Coordinators (CEC) in all regionsFootnote 18 that are responsible to liaise between CSC and potential employers. CES seeks to help offenders who have been released into the community and are still under the jurisdiction of CSC to find additional training or employment. CES offers services to offenders via partnerships with CSC and other government and community partners such as Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, John Howard Society, OPEX, St. Leonard’s Society and the private sector. The primary objectives of CEC are to provide a spectrum of employment services, including individual employment assessment, counselling, job search techniques and on-the-job placements to offenders released to the community.

Until April 1st 2012, the Community Employment Services (CES) was under the aegis of CORCAN. These services now fall under the responsibility of another COPS Branch: the Community Reintegration Branch. This move is being conducted as a pilot until April 2014. If proven effective, the change in governance may become permanent.

Under the current process, a parole officer assigned to the offender must utilise local employment resources to provide beneficial employment search advice to offenders. Depending on the profile of the offender, a community strategy may be developed. As per CD 712-1 on Pre-release Decision Making, the strategy "summarizes the inmate's employment/education plans and the appropriateness of these plans".

As offenders reintegrate into the community, CES provide employment support by offering some employment opportunities through community initiatives and employment services through the employment coordinator. CES ensures that the training and employment opportunities it provides to offenders is current, relevant and increases their potential to obtain and maintain employment upon release.

1.2 Prior Audit and Evaluation Work

CSC Internal Audit has never performed an audit of employment and employability. There were however, a number of audits conducted by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) over the years in which employability programs were discussed.Footnote 19

First, in May 1996 the OAG concluded that CORCAN did not meet its training and correctional goals and was not sustainable. Moreover, the OAG stated that CSC needed to assess the potential of vocational training to meet employability needs and do a better job at managing its employability resources. The OAG also mentioned that CSC was delivering education consistently well across the Service.

The OAG offered the following recommendation:

The Correctional Service should evaluate the costs and benefits related to its expenditures in CORCAN, education and vocational training to establish clear guidelines on who should be trained and establish which programs are most cost-effective.

The OAG also conducted audits on the Reintegration of Women Offenders and Reintegration of Male Offenders in 2003. In the report addressed to women offenders, the OAG concluded that:

  • Women offenders had little access to meaningful work opportunities and employment programs while they are incarcerated and;
  • Turnover among parole officers appears high, with a potential impact on offender reintegration operations.

For the report addressed to men offenders, the OAG noted some progress in the overall case management. It also concluded that the implementation of an employment strategy had been initiated; still, vocational training needed restructuring.

There was an evaluation of employment and employability that was done in 2003, which recommended that roles and responsibilities of all key stakeholders be clarified and communicated and that a strategic plan for employment and employability be developed.

There was an additional evaluation of employment and employability that was completed in 2008. A management action plan was developed to respond to the evaluation and subsequently closed in August 2010 as per the Record of Decisions from the Evaluation Committee meeting.

There was also an evaluation of Community Employment Centres (CEC) done in March 2010, in which Community employment coordinators and CSC staff members indicated that the continuum of employment services offered in the institution and in the community could be better integrated by: i) raising awareness of Community Employment Centre services; and ii) increasing the level of collaboration between institution and community staff members.

In addition, an evaluation of NESP was approved in May 2010, in which the evaluation team concluded that the employability skills targeted by NESP had consistently been identified as relevant and important for employers across occupational sectors, and that the program was consistent with government-wide and correctional priorities.Footnote 20

For each of those reports, management action plans were developed and work has been conducted in an effort to respond to concerns raised.

Audit Objectives and Scope

Audit Objectives

The audit objectives were to provide reasonable assurance that:

  • the management framework was in place to support employment and employability for offenders at CSC and that it was adequate and effective;
  • controls were in place to ensure that program objectives were achieved; and
  • resources were used in an effective manner to achieve desired results for employment and employability.

Specific criteria related to each of the objectives are included in Annex A.

Audit Scope

The audit was national in scope and included visits or videoconferences with institutions in all five regions. Regional CORCAN offices and NHQ were also visited or contacted via videoconferences. The audit covered the following topics:

  • the referral process for employment;
  • the interim and final report of the offender’s performance at work;
  • the utilization of resources by program management;
  • the accountability of employment and employability programs;
  • CORCAN and institutional offender employment; and
  • vocational training.

The period covered by the audit was fiscal year 2011-2012.

The audit did not include CEC or any other employment activities in the community.

The audit assessed compliance with legislation and CSC policies. Although there was no specific policy for employment and employability, the following policies, which had areas relevant to this topic, were reviewed during the audit:

CD705 Intake Assessment Process and Correctional Plan Framework
CD705-05 Supplementary Intake Assessments
CD720 Education Programs and Services for Offenders
CD730 Inmate Program Assignment and Payments
Case Management Bulletin on Employment and Employability 2004

3.0 Audit Approach and Methodology

Audit evidence was gathered through a number of techniques including interviews with a large number of key stakeholders, review of relevant documentation, testing, analysis and file review. More details are available in Annex C.

4.0 Audit Findings and Recommendations

4.1 Management Framework for Employment and Employability Programs

We assessed the extent to which the management framework for employment and employability programs for offenders was in place. This included identifying and reviewing the vision and objectives, directives and guidelines, organizational structure and roles and responsibilities. We also reviewed the reporting and monitoring mechanisms in place for the program. A vision statement would normally define where CSC intends to go with employment and employability, whereas strategic objectives would define a series of steps designed to achieve the vision.

4.1.1 The vision for employment and employability

Providing employment and employability programs to offenders is key to CSC, as demonstrated by the work done by the CSC Review Panel and the resulting Transformation Agenda. In this context and given its importance, we expected to find that CSC had an integrated vision for employment and employability and that this vision would be well communicated, understood and adhered to by all stakeholders. A common vision would provide all stakeholders within CSC with a clear direction as to where CSC is going and emphasize the reasons why offenders need to participate in employment and employability programs.

We did not find a CSC integrated vision for employment and employability for offenders. However, CORCAN had both a core mandate and a strategic vision.

As part of the audit, key strategic documents, such as the Transformation Agenda documents, the reports on plans and priorities, and high level strategic documents were reviewed to determine if a clear, consistent and integrated vision existed laying out the expectations that CSC had with regards to improving the employment and employability skills of offenders. Moreover, interviews with respondents across CSC were conducted to determine if the staff had a good understanding of what the vision and strategic direction were for employment and employability.

As stated in its business planFootnote 21, CORCAN’s mandate is to support CSC in the safe reintegration of offenders into Canadian society by providing employment and employability skills training to offenders. CORCAN’s strategic vision in turn is to contribute to safer communities through innovative and effective client-oriented partnerships that assist offenders in more successful reintegration. Its vision had mostly to do with its intervention through industries and business-like enterprises.

With respect to other stakeholders within CSC and although many respondents in interviews had a fairly common understanding of stated the desired outcomes related to employability, the audit was unable to find an actual CSC stated vision for employment and employability. During interviews, 93% of the staff (99 out of 106) indicated, among other things, that their understanding of CSC’s vision of employment and employability was to assist offenders with reintegration into the community through employment skills development. Other respondents had a variety of answers regarding the vision for employment and employability.

Although staff interviewed generally had a consistent view of CSC’s role regarding employment and employability, a common vision, supported by clear strategic objectives, for all of CSC would minimize the risk that CSC develop various understandings and endorsements of what the vision should be and have difficulties in focusing energy and resources on common objectives.

4.1.2 Strategic objectives for employment and employability

We expected to find within CSC, well defined strategic objectives for employment and employability. We also expected to find that these objectives would be shared equally by all CSC personnel, whether with CORCAN or other areas.

We did not find an approved set of strategic objectives for employment and employability which were clearly defined and understood for all stakeholders within CSC.

As mentioned above, the audit team reviewed a wide selection of strategic documents. As part of these documents, many interpretations of employment and employability objectives were listed. We did not find a final approved set of common objectives for all of CSC.

All CSC employees, including those assigned to CORCAN, did not share the same goals with regards to employment and employability. 45% of interviewees (25 out of 55) indicated that CORCAN’s goals were focused on production and the employment of an offender, while CSC’s larger goals were focused on the offender’s skills development and the compliance to the correctional plan. This situation may result in employing offenders for various reasons, such as saving money, keeping them busy, or keeping them out of trouble, all of which are reasonable, but not primarily linked to the level of employability of the offender once released.

Our audit also found that in 2000, a proposal on the consolidation of inmate employment programs under CORCAN was endorsed by CSC senior management.Footnote 22 The document included governing principles for how best to consolidate the programs. It also stated that employment programs would:

  1. provide a greater opportunity of employment of inmate upon their release and hence a more successful reintegration to society;
  2. assist in institutional self sufficiency in operation, and hence helping in lowering incarceration costs;
  3. provide a sense of purpose to inmates and hence assisting to maintain a safe environment in an institution;
  4. help develop or maintain generic competencies needed to maintain employability while incarcerated (e.g. work ethics, work habits, etc).

Moreover, the document laid out the relationships between the managing partners for this key activity. This was later reiterated in 2009 by the Assistant Commissioner Correctional Operations and Programs to selected groups involved in employment and employability programming.

Although the recommendations made at the time were promising, it was not possible to determine whether they were finalized or fully implemented.

What we did determine based on our interviews is that there was no consensus among staff as to what strategic objectives were or should be for employment and employability. The most common answer (47%) was that the objectives were to provide skills to offenders and a safe transition into the community. This answer was very similar to the one provided for the vision. 22% of interviewees (15 out of 68) were unable to clearly define employment and employability objectives.

In conclusion, even though some common strategic objectives for employment and employability for CORCAN and other stakeholders in CSC were developed, they were not widely shared or made easily available to staff, leading to a lack of clarity on direction employment and employability programs are to take. In its 2010 report called "Report on Future Directions" under the employment, employability and vocational training, the Transformation Agenda has proposed what the strategic objectives should be in the future.Footnote 23 These would include a more integrated approach to employment and employability.

Without clearly defined strategic objectives linked to a clear vision, there is a risk that offenders’ needs for employment and employability will not be consistently and properly addressed.

4.1.3 The governance structure

We expected to find in place a clear and integrated governance structure encompassing both CSC and CORCAN that would ensure clear roles and responsibilities and full accountability with respect to employment and employability.

No overarching governance structure was in place.

A review of various authoritative documents was completed during the audit to assess the governance structure, such as policy, guidelines, organizational charts and any other relevant documents that would point to a clear governance over employment and employability activities.

CORCAN had a well defined governance structure for employment and employability, as it is its core mandate. At the top of the structure at NHQ, there was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), then the Director of Employment and Employability. In regions, there was the Regional Director of CORCAN, then the Manager of Employment and Employability. The chart below illustrates the organizational structure of employment and employability at CORCAN.

Figure 1. CORCAN Governance Structure

CORCAN Governance Structure - ACCOP precedes the CORCAN CEO (NHQ). The CORCAN CEO governs the CORCAN Regional Director (RHQ) and the Employment and Employability Division (NHQ). The CORCAN Regional Director oversees the CORCAN Assistant Director (RHQ). The CORCAN Assistant Director is in charge of the CORCAN Employment and Employability Manager (RHQ) as well as the CORCAN Operations Manager (in institutions). The CORCAN Operations Manager oversees the Shop Instructors (in institutions).

CORCAN Governance Structure - ACCOP precedes the CORCAN CEO (NHQ). The CORCAN CEO governs the CORCAN Regional Director (RHQ) and the Employment and Employability Division (NHQ). The CORCAN Regional Director oversees the CORCAN Assistant Director (RHQ). The CORCAN Assistant Director is in charge of the CORCAN Employment and Employability Manager (RHQ) as well as the CORCAN Operations Manager (in institutions). The CORCAN Operations Manager oversees the Shop Instructors (in institutions).

Accountability for non-CORCAN employment and employability was not so clearly defined. There was no assigned position within CSC as to who was responsible for those programs.

A National Vocational Steering Committee, chaired by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CORCAN, has been established for the purpose of providing strategic guidance, vision, direction and clarity of accountability for employment and employability programs. Regional Vocational Steering Committees were also established for the purpose of developing an integrated and collaborative approach to vocational training planning. They are co-chaired by the Regional Directors of CORCAN and the Directors of Interventions in the regions. In 2009 the relationship between key players in this area was further detailed in a memo sent by the Assistant Commissioner Correctional Operations and Programs to key stakeholders.

In institutions, the governance structure mainly referred to the CIB, which was responsible for assigning offenders to employment and employability programs and for work related suspensions. The CIB was chaired by the assistant warden intervention (AWI) or the manager, programs. Members of the CIB varied depending of topics discussed and could include parole officers, inmate pay and employment coordinators, managers of assessment and intervention or other key positions in institutions. When in session, the CIB would evaluate offenders’ candidacies and assign them to employment or employability programs, based on their needs and availability. The role of the CIB was clear and understood by its members.

In 1999, and again in 2000, a unique Office of Primary Interest (OPI) for employment and employability was proposed and supported by EXCOM. The audit found that in reality, the responsibility was shared between CORCAN and other stakeholders within CSC.

The Evaluation of the Employment and Employability conducted in 2003 high-lighted that the proposed decision made by EXCOM in 1999 was not clearly understood. Based on the evaluation and the OAG report in 2004, the direction moved from a sole OPI to an integrated sharing of accountability to ensure that employment and employability programs were integrated into the overall correctional planning process. The Evaluation report completed in 2003 was approved at EXCOM in January 2005 with further reviews at EXCOM. The initial principles supporting employment and employability programming were updated. The goal was to ensure that staff working in all areas, understood that an integrated approach was necessary, given the complexity of the employment continuum that commences at intake with the development of the correctional plan, moves to employment and vocational training opportunities in the institution and follows through to the community. These documents were revised again as a result of the Transformation Agenda in November 2009 and most recently updated to be in compliance with legislative changes.

Interviews indicated that most staff stated a defined governance structure was in place for employment and employability. However, when prompted, they were unable to clearly describe it. Of the 78 employees who answered the question, 82% (64 out of 78) said there was a governance structure in place. However, only 38% (24 out of 64) of those who believed there was a structure were able to describe their perception of this structure. The majority of respondents mentioned the Correctional Intervention Board (CIB) as being key to the governance structure. Others also mentioned the CORCAN governance structure, including the RHQ. This lack of clarity at the delivery level over who has overall accountability for employment and employability creates a risk that employment and employability programs may not receive the attention it deserves and may not achieve expected results.

4.1.4 Policies and legislation

We expected to find that existing policies are in line with legislation.

There was not one policy specific to employment and employability. There was a case management bulletin published in 2004 that dealt with employment and employability. Policies that did exist and that referred to employment and employability were in line with legislation.

Contrary to what was proposed as part of CSC Transformation Agenda (2010 Report on Future Directions), a policy specific to employment and employability has yet to be developed. Commissioner Directives (CD) that provide guidance on some aspects related to employment and employability exist. For instance, CD 705 and CD 705-5 deal with intake assessments, CD 720 deals with offender education and CD 730 concerns program assignments and offender pay. There was also a bulletin on case management dating to 2004 that dealt with the employment and employability program for offenders. This bulletin offers guidance on employment and employability in the absence of a formal policy. The audit was able to determine that these CDs were in line with legislation and more specifically, with sections 102 to 110 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Regulations (CCRR).

Concerns were raised by staff about CD 730, mostly regarding offenders’ pay reviews that are not synchronized with offenders’ performance reviews. It is our understanding that CD 730 is being reviewed at the time of this report and that the revised CD will be issued soon and should address these concerns.

Not having a policy or an approved strategy specific to employment and employability increases the risk of inconsistent and varied implementation.

4.1.5 Roles and responsibilities

We expected to find that roles and responsibilities were clearly defined and understood for all stakeholders.

For the majority of staff involved in employment and employability, their roles and responsibilities were clearly defined and understood. However, in terms of corporate responsibilities, who had the leadership role in the area of employment and employability was less clear.

The auditors looked at policies and other direction documents for a description of roles and responsibilities of key intervenient related to employment and employability. We also interviewed employees at various levels, including Wardens, Assistant Wardens Intervention, Assistant Wardens Management Services, Manager Assistance and Intervention, Parole Officers, Program Managers, Chief Instructors, Operations Manager, Shop Supervisors, Regional Directors CORCAN, Managers Employment and Employability and Acting Director Employment and Employability.

When asked, 79% (105 out of 133) of interviewees said that their role and responsibilities were clearly defined with regards to employment and employability. Lack of a clear shared and communicated OPI for employment and employability and how different stakeholders fit together could explain why this percentage is not higher. For those sitting on the CIB, 92% of the staff (47 out of 51) indicated that their role as a member of the CIB was clearly defined. The audit found that there was a standardized approach across institutions with the functioning of the CIB. Furthermore, some interviewees mentioned that they would like to have a better understanding of the role of CORCAN in relation to other service providers within institutions with regards to employment and employability. Not having a clear understanding of the role of CORCAN (for institutional staff) or the role of institutional staff (for CORCAN employees), could increase the risk of redundancy or gaps in roles.

4.1.6 Access to tools

We expected to find that staff had access to tools, such as training, software, equipment, work methodologies and standard operating procedures to do their job and contribute to the achievement of program objectives.

Generally, staff did not receive training specific to employment and employability. Staff had access to tools to help them do their work. However, some automated tools used to assess offenders’ employment needs were not used effectively and efficiently.

Training

We expected to find some training specific to employment and employability. There is a National Training Standard (NTS) targeted for all work supervisors that includes components related to Managing Offenders in the Workplace and Communication about Offenders. These programs are meant to provide instructors and shop supervisors with knowledge on how to supervise offenders and assist them in addressing their employment needs. The courses in question are: Managing Offenders in the Workplace, and Communicating About Offenders. A refresher is to be provided every five years.

However, 71% of staff interviewed in institutions (30 out of 42) indicated that they did not receive any training specific to employment and employability. Staff interviewed occupied positions that required them to work closely with offenders, such as Parole Officers, Manager Assistance and Intervention, Chief Instructor, Operations Manager and Shop Supervisor. Twenty-nine percent (29%) of respondents (12 out of 42) said they received various forms of training or information sessions somewhat related to employment and employability. However, the majority of those who said so, also indicated that they did not feel the need for additional training. Out of the 42 CSC employees who were interviewed, 20 were occupying a position of direct work supervision with offenders. The audit team tested those 20 employees to determine if training had been taken. Using the human resources systems, the audit team confirmed that 7 out of those 20 employees did not complete any of the two mandatory courses mentioned above.

Tools

The main tools used by employees to manage employment and employability programs are the correctional plan, the Offender Management System (OMS) and CHOICES. The correctional plan is used, among other things, to determine the offender’s needs in terms of programs, including education, employment and employability. This document is in OMS. During our audit, problems were identified in relation to the section on employment of the correctional plan, as further discussed in section 4.2.1 of this report. No problems were found in relation to OMS itself. CSC staff access the correctional plan in OMS to learn about the needs of an offender in terms of employment and employability.

CHOICES is a copyrighted software package designed to help individuals explore career plan options taking into account interest and aptitudes. CHOICES is administered to offenders at intake sites to help determine their specific needs in terms of employment and employability. Our audit determined that it was used in only 27% of the files we reviewed.Footnote 24 It is to be noted that CHOICES is not mandatory and that offenders have the possibility to refuse to take it. This could in part explain why the numbers were so low. We will discuss CHOICES further under section 4.2.2 of this report.

Equipment and infrastructure

Seventeen percent (17%) of respondents (9 out of 52) indicated that physical infrastructure was not adequate to allow them to complete their mandate for employment and employability. They mentioned that space was limited and insufficient to deliver employment and employability programs. The CSC 2013-2018 Accommodation Plan includes provision to address similar concerns raised as part of the Audit of Offender Population Management. Specifically, Corporate Services has provided a number of documents to senior management both at the NHQ and regionally. Some of the documents detailed resource allocations based on business cases for the implementation of the Truth in Sentencing Act. Moreover, there have been plans made to address the growing offender population, such as building additional units as discussed previously and adding additional general-purpose buildings at a number of institutions once all of the new units have been completed. These general-purpose buildings are intended to address many of the infrastructure concerns identified by staff during the offender population management auditFootnote 25, as well as in this audit.

4.1.7 Monitoring

We expected to find that monitoring was in place to ensure program results were measured and reported, as per policy. We also expected to be able to have access to different types of statistics on employment and employability results, vocational training and performance information on offenders that were used by staff to manage.

Results on employment and employability initiatives were not always readily accessible.

Reports were available on the CORCAN website which provided a certain level of details on information such as the number of offenders employed with CORCAN or the number of certificates issued for vocational training. However, the data available did not always correspond to the type of performance information that would inform management on how effective those initiatives are. Performance Direct – a new CSC performance reporting system - has a module on employment and employability with some statistics, mostly related to timeliness of services. However, it was not yet populated at the time this audit was conducted.

Work suspensions are not monitored properly. There was no specific area in OMS to record work suspensions and the reason for the suspension was not always documented in OMS.

Offenders are sometimes suspended from work for a variety of reasons. CSC Work Supervisors should be able to easily know which offender has been suspended, for how long and for what reason, so they can manage employment and employability assignments accordingly. Among the staff questioned, 88% (71 out of 81) indicated that work suspensions are documented in OMS. However, 27% (22 out of 81) did not know where the information was located in OMS. In fact, our file review indicated that suspensions were recorded in various locations in OMS, such as the Casework Record screen, the Program Assignment screen, or the Program Evaluation Report.

During our electronic file review, we were unable to determine the reason for suspension in 27% (20 out of 75) of the time. Policy states that suspended offenders must be advised in writing why they are suspended. Although no direction was provided in the policy, we were informed that the the practice was to provide inmates with a completed copy of the Inmate Suspension from a Program Suspension form (CSC/SCC 1188) when an offender is suspended from an assignment. The existing policy is not clear as to where work suspensions are to be documented in OMS, with the result that suspensions were being recorded in various places. As OMS is the one of the key source of information for staff, this makes it difficult to find the reason for suspension and to report on them. There is a risk that staff may not find work suspension information in OMS when needed and may not be aware of active suspensions.

Offenders’ performance reviews were not always done as per policy.

Policy required that employed offenders be evaluated every 90 days or whenever they complete a program. 90% of staff interviewed (73 out of 81) were aware of this policy requirement. However, our audit indicated that 31% of the performance reports we reviewed (112 out of 364) were completed later than 90 daysFootnote 26, with 33 of these same reports exceeding 150 days. Some staff indicated that this policy requirement was sometimes challenging to comply with, as they considered the 90 day timeline to be short. If the performance report is done late it could affect the offender’s pay review. Some staff also indicated that the pay review and the performance report were not synchronized and that this situation made it complex to manage. This was also noted in a previous Audit of Inmate-Related Financial Transactions. The policy is currently under revision and these issues may be addressed as part of this exercise.

Conclusion

There were elements of a management framework in place but some important pieces were incomplete or missing. Roles and responsibilities were clearly defined and understood for Correctional Intervention Boards in institutions, and these were generally working very well. Although there was no specific policy on employment and employability, elements related to the topic and covered under other policies were aligned with legislation. There was a case management bulletin on the subject of employment and employability issued in 2004. Finally, some monitoring was in place as per policy but not always applied.

There are, however, areas that need to be strengthened with respect to employment and employability such as:

  • a formal integrated, documented and communicated vision common to all of CSC would provide the overall direction towards which CSC aims with regards to employment and employability. An initiative was developed to regroup all employment and employability responsibilities under CORCAN. However, it has yet to be fully implemented;
  • approved and well communicated strategic objectives for both institutional and CORCAN employment and employability to support the vision would also clarify and unify the direction CSC is seeking;
  • a clearly communicated and integrated governance structure would support implementation of the programs; and
  • the finalization of a policy for employment and employability as per the Transformation Agenda would clarify expectations in this area.

Recommendation 1
(Priority 1: Requires management’s immediate attention, oversight and monitoring)

The Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs should develop and communicate an integrated strategic document that would include elements such as:

  • a corporate vision for employment and employability;
  • strategic objectives for employment and employability programs for offenders;
  • a governance structure for employment and employability encompassing all CSC players; and
  • guidance documents such as policies, guidelines and performance indicators specific to employment and employability programs for offenders.

Management Response

CSC will fully implement a new vision for employment and employability for federal offenders. This integrated Employment and Employability strategy will include: the corporate vision; strategic objectives; a governance structure encompassing all CSC stakeholders; a sound management and financial framework; policy framework and documents; and a performance measurement framework with clear accountabilities.

4.2 Controls in Place for the Achievement of Program Objectives

We assessed the controls in place to ensure that program objectives were achieved. We tested the initial assessment and the employment and employability placement of offenders to ensure they were complying with policy requirements. To achieve this, we conducted a series of tests and analysis of a sample of OMS offender files.

4.2.1 The initial assessment

We expected to find that the initial assessment of offenders was done according to policy, as indicated in CD 705 and CD 705-5 on intake assessment.

The employment section of the correctional plan was not always completed as per policy.

Offender needs in terms of employment and employability are identified during intake assessment. It is imperative that the information gathered at intake be made available to institutions; so that key players can assign offenders to employment and employability programs that best address their needs. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of staff interviewed (26 out of 33) stated that intake sites provided institutions with information on employment and employability needs for offenders. As well, 84% of staff interviewed (21 out of 25) indicated that the employment section of the correctional plan was referred to when assigning an offender to employment and employability programs.

Policy required that the employment section of the correctional plan be assessed against four criteria: highest level of education achieved, offender’s needs in the area of employment, possibility for the offender of getting a job in the same field upon release, and offender’s level of motivation to participate in employment or employability programs. Our file review found evidence that all four criteria were considered in only 29% (72 out of 248)Footnote 27 of files reviewed. The two criteria that were missing most often were the possibility for the offender to find a job in the same field and the level of motivation to participate in employment programs. If all of the required data is not present in the correctional plan, there is a risk that staff making employment decisions may not have all the information they need to do so.

Evidence of employment and education factors was present in 97% (241 out of 248) of correctional plans reviewed, as required by policy. As required by policy, the Canadian Adult Achievement Test (CAAT) was used in 83% (135 out of 162) of files reviewed to measure the offender’s education level. Seventeen percent (17%) of files reviewed had neither evidence of the CAAT or the transcript of the offender’s education level.

4.2.2 Employment and employability placements

We expected to find that the employment and employability placements were done according to policy.

The process to employ an offender was clear. However, some of the tools being used such as CHOICES, did not appear to be suitable for the placement of offenders.

The process to employ an offender was clear and was well understood by 90% (89 out of 99) of the respondents to our questions. They believed that policy requirements regarding employment placements were clear and did not require additional guidelines.

One of the tools used by employees to manage employability and work placements is called CHOICES. As discussed briefly under section 4.1.6 of the report, CHOICESis a copyrighted software package designed to help individuals explore career plan options taking into account interest and aptitudes. It connects aptitudes, interests and skills with occupations, post-secondary programs and school information. The standalone version is updated annually by the vendor. The audit team was informed that CHOICES licenses cost $22,000 per year to use. Furthermore, CSC has to hire consultants to administer it. The cost of administering CHOICES in this manner was approximately $389,000 for CSC in fiscal-year 2011-2012, as per estimates provided by the Correctional Operations and Programs Sector. As mentioned earlier, our review indicated that only 27% (59 out of 217) of offender files in OMS had evidence that CHOICES was used to assess employment placements.

It is noteworthy to mention that there is no policy requirement to administer the CHOICES assessment and that offenders may refuse to take the test. Moreover, CSC is limited in the flexibility it has to place offenders in institutions where a suitable type of employment is available. Therefore, CHOICES did not appear to be suited for CSC’s environment, where offenders are sent to an institution primarily based on their security level, not their needs in terms of employment and employability. This could explain why the percentage of offenders assessed with CHOICES was so low. With such a low usage of CHOICES, CSC may want to reconsider spending significant amounts of money for a tool that is not fully utilized.

Conclusion

The audit team assessed compliance to policies and directives where some of these elements related to employment and employability were present. We noted that some policy requirements were not being followed with regards to the initial assessment, such as the completion of the employment section in the correctional plan. We also noted that the software called CHOICES was either not suited for its intended purpose or was not being used to its full potential.

Recommendation 2

The Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs should review the utilization made of some of the tools for assessment and placement to determine if they can be optimized or are still relevant.

Management Response

Recommendation two has been completed.

In July 2013 the Assistant Commissioner Correctional Operations and Programs ceased the continued use of CHOICES. CSC has implemented the dynamic factor identification and analysis - revised (DFIA-R).

Recommendation 3

The Regional Deputy Commissioners with the support of the Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs should manage employment in compliance with guidance and existing directives, including the completion of the employment section of the correctional plan.

Management Response

Recommendation two has been completed.

Each region will conduct operational reviews of employment assessments to ensure compliance with existing directives. Upon implementation of the new Employment and Employability strategy, policy direction will be updated as required.

4.3 Utilization of Resources and Value for Money

We assessed the effectiveness of the use of resources for the achievement of desired results for employment and employability. We considered financial, material and human resources available and the cost of having offenders participating in an employment or an employability program.

4.3.1 Financial resources

We expected to find that financial resources are clearly linked to employment and employability program objectives. We encountered issues with this criterion, as it was difficult to reconcile financial information from various sources, such as the Resources Management Tool (RMT) and the Corporate Reporting System (CRS). It was also difficult at times to obtain information on questions related to costs such as the cost of a program, or the acquisition and utilization of software, as the information was either not readily available, or was not coded in a way that clearly links to employment costs.

Furthermore, it was determined that CSC did not have complete, clear and periodically updated costing of employment and employability activities. For instance, some vocational training was funded by various sources (CORCAN and/or institutions) in different regions, depending on specific arrangements developed locally. We were also told that other costs related to employment and employability for various stakeholders such as Offender Programs and Reintegration, Women Offender and Aboriginal Initiatives, were not monitored. When requesting data on financial expenditures, the audit team could not readily be provided with recent and integrated employment and employability expenditures.

4.3.1.1 CORCAN and CSC Accounts

The cost of employment per inmate within CORCAN was not always covered by the sum of the revenue stream and the Correctional and Training fee.

As mentioned previously, CORCAN is a SOA located within the Correctional Operations and Programs Sector. As such, it is expected to fund its activities via a revolving fund and the revenues it generates from sales. Moreover, CORCAN receives an annual correctional and training fee (C&T) from CSC to offset the extra burden resulting from its operational institutional setting, their being subjected to government policies and training imperatives. In its 2010 Report on Future Directions, the Transformation Agenda stated that a review of options available to CORCAN to remain financially viable would be required. This review would include, among other things, a review of options to better leverage CSC’s Correctional and Training Fee to support increased employment and skills development for offenders.Footnote 28

Offenders within institutions require more training and more supervision than regular employees and thus cost more to employ. As can be seen in Row 2 of Table 2 below, our analysis concluded that, even when taking into account the C&T fee, CORCAN could not break even financially in 3 of the last 5 fiscal years between 2008 and 2012. In aggregate, CORCAN had a deficit of $0.5M over the five-year period.

Table 2
CORCAN cost to CSC for the 5-year period 2007-08/2011-12
Footnote 29
Year 2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08
1) Training & Correctional fee* $19,695 $24,202 $23,643 $24,203 $23,308
2) Operating (surplus) / Deficit* $889 ($511) $969 $2,435 ($3,296)
3) Total contribution by CSC* $20,584 $23,691 $24,612 $26,646 $20,012
4) Number of hours worked* 2,620 2,458 2,600 2,800 2,850
5) Number of FTE equivalents** 2,183 2,048 2,167 2,333 2,375
6) Cost per FTE $9,428 $11,566 $11,359 $11,420 $8,426
* Rows 1 throught 4 are in '000.
** 1 FTE = 1200 hrs (as per CORCAN's assumption)

CSC has contributed financially to CORCAN’s sustainability by an amount of $115.1 million over the last five fiscal years for an average of $ 23.0 million per year. CORCAN yearly cost per FTE to CSC varied between $8,426 (2007-08) and $11,566 (2010-11) during the last five-year period.

We also calculated the cost of producing and selling goods and compared it against the number of hours worked by offenders. Table 2 above shows the financial information extracted from CORCAN audited financial statements as it appears in their annual reports. Row 3 discloses the amount of Correctional & Training Fee paid by CSC to CORCAN plus CORCAN operational surplus/deficit whereas Row 6 (Row 3/Row 5) calculates the cost per FTE.

4.3.1.2 Vocational training

There were limited performance measures with respect to vocational training. Investment in vocational training could be identified, as well as results such as the number of vocational training certificates issued and the number of offenders who received training.

Vocational training is used to enhance the employability of offenders. The training is required to be certified by a third party to ensure that once offenders are released, the certification will be recognized in the community. To enhance offenders' job readiness and employment skills, CSC also works with specialized community organizations to provide vocational training and community recognized certificates linked to the labour market in areas such as construction, culinary arts, welding and carpentry. Vocational training can include various fields such as health and safety, employability skills, machinery operation, first aid, etc. Courses are provided in institutions and can vary in length from one hour to several months, depending on the topic.

Employability programs are delivered to offenders with identified needs in this area. The cost of employing an offender includes vocational training. CSC delivers a wide variety of vocational training to provide offenders with skills that will make them employable and help them find a job when they return into the community. Although the restructuring of vocational training has not been fully implemented the regional vocational steering committees submit regional training plans each year, targets are set and identified in the CORCAN Business Plan and results documented in both the annual report of CORCAN and the Year-End report on Employment and Employability. See Table 3 below for details.

Vocational training costs to CORCAN for fiscal year 2011-2012 amounted to $1,485,623 as per Table 3 below. This cost is also included in Table 2 above as part of CORCAN’s operating results (Row 2). The cost varied from region to region, as indicated in Table 3 below.

During fiscal year 2011-2012, 14,243 vocational training certificates were issued. The Correctional Operations and Programs Sector provided the audit team with the number of hours of vocational training provided in fiscal year 2011-2012, which was 760,350 hours. Hours spent were calculated separately using the vocational description table and the number of certificates earned. When averaging the cost of training per certificate, the results differed significantly, as vocational training varies by nature and length. Also, since there was no easy way to compare certificates, due to varying provincial legislations, regarding the format of courses, length, etc., regions providing a greater number of short training courses produce a cost per certificate much lower.

Table 3
Vocational Training Cost Breakdown
FY 2011-2012
Region CORCAN1 Cost CSC2 Operations Both CORCAN & CSC Operations Vocational Certificates3 Training Hours4 Number of Offenders5 Cost Per Certificate
Altlantic $124,150 $453,994.80 $578,144.80 1,221 69,274.75 551 $473.50
Quebec $309,409 $2,554,742.31 $2,864,151.31 786 446,840 500 $3,643.96
Ontario $477,874 $466,192.65 $944,066.65 3,320 107,424 1,526 $284.36
Prairies $494,145 $912,789.65 $1,406,934.07 7,166 88,030 1,664 $196.33
Pacific $80,045 $614,617.01 $694,662.01 1,744 47,941.75 759 $398.32
NAT6 6 839 3
Total $1,485,623 $5,002,335.84 $6,487,958.84 14,243 760,449.50 5,003 $456

1) Source: CORCAN Audited Financial Statements Fiscal Year 2011-2012
2) Source: IFMMS: October 9, 2013 for Fiscal Year 2011-2012. These figures represent cost centre 467, 469, 472,473 and 480
3) EEP Year-End report FY 2011-2012 Source: Datawarehouse (DW) refresh date: 2012-04-15 CRS (OMS)
4) Based on vocational program length from the National Vocational Description Table
5) EEP Year-End report FY 2011-2012 Source: Datawarehouse (DW) refresh date: 2012-04-15 CRS (OMS)
6) Represents a statistical anomaly

Note 1: Fewer certificates are earned in Quebec; however training hours are substantially increased. The vocational training opportunities in Quebec are typically longer than those in other regions and the cost substantially higher.

Note 2: These training dollars will not balance with the actual training plans as some of these costs relate to salary costs relating to the actual training. Some instructors are certified by a third party to deliver the training.

4.3.1.3 NESP

We expected to find that the employment and employability programs offered to offenders would meet criteria of efficiency and effectiveness.

NESP employability program was not delivered consistently and effectively.

One vocational training that is specific to employability is the National Employability Skills Development Program (NESP).

In response to the Evaluation of the National Employment Skills Program, the NESP program was compared to a group of 119 programs accessible to offenders in the community. 10 of these were considered to offer similar training components to NESP. Although none of the programs were an exact replica of the NESP program, it was determined that providing employability programs to inmates was important as inmates are motivated and have easier access to programs in institutions, whereas offenders released into the community are more concerned with making a living upon release. A project code was established to better track costs, after the initial evaluation; however, due to the lack of identified funding for this program it has not been delivered consistently and therefore the results may be inconclusive.

During fiscal year 2011-2012, 236 NESP certificates were issued in total in institutions. In one region NESP was not delivered at all, due to the absence of facilitators to provide the training. In total, 19 sites offered NESP in 2011-2012. Of the 16 sites covered by our sample, nine offered NESP that year.

The only readily available costing of NESP stated that the program costs approximately $500,000 per year to deliver nationallyFootnote 30. Staff interviewed had mixed opinions about NESP. 53% (53 out of 100) said that it was a good program, 17% (17 out of 100) were not familiar with it, and 21% (21 out of 100) mentioned that it was not available at their institution. According to respondents, the main reason invoked as to why NESP was not available was the lack of resources. NESP was designed to provide employability skills to offenders who need it the most. Given the differences between sites and regions in terms of delivery, it may not be used as effectively as it could.

4.3.2 Allocation of funds

We expected to find that funds were allocated to achieve value for money.

Given the difficulties identified above in relation to costing and performance measures, it was not possible at this time to determine if CSC is getting good value for money for its expenditures.

The audit determined that CSC is putting in place extensive activities related to employment and employability. Significant effort is put forward to assist offenders maintain and develop the competencies they will require to integrate or reintegrate the workplace upon their release. However, based on the available information, it was not possible at this time to fully assess how cost-effective CSC is in its use of funds for employment and employability.

Some institutions indicated that they could not always provide enough employment and employability opportunities to keep offenders busy.

When asked, staff had one area where they believed that CSC’s ability to deliver on its employment and employability commitments was impeded, as discussed below.

Fifty-one percent (51%) of staff interviewed (41 out of 81) mentioned that they did not always have enough employment and employability opportunities to keep offenders busy. The most common reasons mentioned were the lack of proper infrastructure and the lack of resources to supervise offenders in employment or employability programs. In interviews, staff indicated that sometimes they had to cancel programs due to a lack of available resources. For some institutions, the challenge was to find employment opportunities to a large number of newcomers due to offender population movements following the closing of some sites. Having offenders being idle and not being employed may be a risk for security. As well, to keep offenders busy, some institutions may decide to provide them with work opportunities that add minimal value to their work experience.

Conclustion

As mentioned at the beginning of this section, difficulties encountered in getting financial as well as non-financial information limited our ability to produce a detailed analysis. Despite these conditions, we were able to identify some areas where management practices may be improved such as;

  • a better ongoing costing of employment and employability activities needs to be performed by CSC to better understand investments in this key area;
  • the review of CORCAN to ensure cost of employing an offender in CORCAN is covered by revenue streams, even after taking into account the correctional and training fee received needs to be finalised;
  • better performance measures that would allow a valid comparison of vocational training offered across the country are needed; and
  • the current delivery of NESP needs to be assessed.

Recommendation 4
(Priority 2: Requires management’s attention, oversight and monitoring)

The Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs, in collaboration with the Assistant Commissioner Corporate Services should re-examine both the management and the financial framework of employability and employment within CSC including CORCAN correctional and training fee and vocational training with the objective of improving the productivity, the reportability and the sustainability of these activities.

Management Response

The Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs, in collaboration with the Assistant Commissioner Corporate Services, will review the financial and management framework of employability and employment within CSC. The review will include the CORCAN correctional and training fee.

Recommendation 5
(Priority 2: Requires management’s attention, oversight and monitoring)

The Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs should look at the cost/benefit of delivering the NESP program in institutions and develop a strategy to address the result of this review.

Management Response

The Assistant Commissioner Correctional Operations and Programs will conduct a cost benefit analysis of delivering the NESP program in institutions.

Overall Conclusion

As previously noted, providing employment to, and enhancing employability skills of offenders, is one of the key factors of a successful reintegration. Given the significance of these activities, the audit team expected to find that employment and employability was integrated between CSC stakeholders. In many aspects, CORCAN management framework is more robust than the rest of CSC. Still, other CSC areas do play a role in these activities and currently, important elements of an approved framework such as a clear vision, strategic objectives and a governance structure that allows for full and transparent accountability are not established. Financial information available does not demonstrate the establishment of full costing for employment and employability. CORCAN sustainability is entirely dependent upon receiving CSC yearly correctional and training fee.

In relation to each objective, the audit found the following:

Audit Objective 1: There were elements of a management framework in place but some important pieces were incomplete or missing.

Audit Objective 2: There was clear evidence that offenders’ needs in terms of employment and employability were identified during intake assessment. There were however, some requirements not followed with regards to initial assessment and the CHOICES software did not appear to be suitable for the placement of offenders.

Audit Objective 3: The cost of employing an offender in CORCAN was not always covered by revenue streams and training fees and there was a need to review CSC employment and employability management and financial frameworks. Finally, there was limited analysed information available to measure performance or investments in vocational training and NESP vocational training was not delivered consistently and effectively.

Management Response

The Assistant Commissioner Correctional Operations and Programs (ACOP) accepts all of the above recommendations as presented in the report.

The long-term plan is to implement a new vision for employment and employability for federal offenders. To support the development of this vision, a detailed action plan identifying, short-, medium, and long-term activities has been developed to address the issues raised in the audit. All actions to address the recommendations are to be fully implemented by March 31, 2015.

Annex A

Audit Objectives and Criteria

Objectives Criteria

1. To provide reasonable assurance that the management framework is in place to support employment and employability for offenders at CSC, and that it is adequate and effective.

1.1 There is a vision for employment and employability that is understood and adhered to by all stakeholders.

1.2 There are strategic objectives defined and programs established to meet objectives.

1.3 There is a governance structure in place to ensure that accountability relevant to employment and employability is present.

1.4 Policies are aligned with legislation.

1.5 Roles and responsibilities are defined for all stakeholders.

1.6 Employees have access to tools to do their job and contribute to the achievement of employment and employability programs objectives.

1.7 Monitoring is in place to ensure program results are measured and reported.

2. To provide reasonable assurance that controls are in place to ensure program objectives are achieved.

2.1 The initial assessment is done according to the policy in place with regards to employment and employability.

2.2 The employment and employability placement is done according to policy.

3. To provide reasonable assurance that resources are used in an effective manner to achieve desired results for employment and employability.

3.1 Financial resources are clearly linked to program objectives.

3.2 Human resources in place allow for the meeting of program objectives.

3.3 Funds are allocated to achieve value for money.

Annex B

Location of Site Examinations

Region Sites
National Headquarters
  • CORCAN
Atlantic
  • Dorchester
  • Westmorland
  • Nova
Quebec
  • Archambault (pilot)
  • Drummond
  • Federal Training Centre
  • Cowansville
Ontario
  • Joyceville
  • Collins Bay
  • Pittsburgh
Prairies
  • Drumheller
  • Edmonton Institution for Women
  • Riverbend
Pacific
  • Ferndale
  • Matsqui
  • William Head

Annex C

Audit Approach and Methodology

Audit evidence was gathered through a number of techniques including:

Interviews: Interviews with a large number of key stakeholders were conducted with Wardens, Assistant Wardens Intervention, Assistant Wardens Management Services, Managers Assessment and Intervention, Institutional Parole Officers, CORCAN Regional Directors, CORCAN Assistant Directors, CORCAN Operation Managers, CORCAN Shop Supervisors, CORCAN Chief Instructors, CORCAN Managers Employment and Employability, Program Managers, Employability Assessment Advisors and working inmates. Interviews were also conducted with CORCAN management at NHQ.

Review of Documentation: Relevant documentation such as offender files contained in the Offender Management System (OMS), Commissioner’s Directives, Corrections and Conditional Release Act, Correctional and Conditional Release Regulations, process documentation, procedure manuals.

Testing: Testing was conducted to determine if sufficient and corroborating evidence existed and supported the employment and employability programs.

Analytical Review: An analytical review of documentation, interview and testing results was conducted throughout the audit in order to determine trends and compliance.

File reviews: The file review was conducted by selecting a statistical sample of offender files to review referral and employment history. The period of coverage for this audit was fiscal year 2011-2012. The sample size was 347 offenders assigned to an employment or an employability program as of April 15, 2012. Of these, 39 were women offenders, and 38% were offenders with mental health needs.

Sample and Site Selection: Since inmate employment mostly takes place in medium and minimum institutions, those were the ones that were retained for the purpose of this audit. By selecting minimum and medium institutions, the audit team was able to review both CORCAN and institutional employment. Some institutions for women were also selected to get a more complete view of employment and employability.

Annex D

List of Acronyms

CAAT
Canadian Adult Achievement Test
CCRR
Corrections and Conditional Release Regulations
CD
Commissioner Directive
CEC
Community Employment Centre
CES
Community Employment Services
CMT
Case Management Team
CIB
Correctional Intervention Board
COP
Correctional Operations and Programs
CRS
Corporate Reporting System
CSC
Correctional Service Canada
C&T
Correctional and Training Fee
EEP
Employment and Employability Program
FTE
Full Time Equivalent
NESP
National Employability Skills Program
NHQ
National Headquarters
NTS
National Training Standard
OAG
Office of the Auditor General
OMS
Offender Management System
OPI
Office of Primary Interest
RMT
Resource Management Tool
SOA
Special Operating Agency

Annex E

Glossary

Case Management Team (CMT)
– the individuals involved in managing an offender’s case, which include at minimum a Parole Officer and the offender, and in institutions, the Correctional Officer II/Primary Worker.Footnote 31
Casework Record
– a record that is put in an offender’s file of events relating to case management.
Correctional Intervention Board (CIB)
– a multidisciplinary team that approves interventions and contributes to recommendations or decisions for complex cases. The Interdisciplinary Mental Health Team is considered a component of the Correctional Intervention Board.Footnote 32
Correctional Programs
– a structured intervention that addresses empirically-validated factors directly linked to offenders’ criminal behaviour, in order to reduce re-offending.Footnote 33
Full Time Equivalent (FTE)
– a measure that determines the number of offenders working, under the assumption that they are working 1,200 hours per year. One FTE equals 1,200 hours of annual work time.
National Employability Skills Program (NESP)
– is a vocational training program designed to help offenders acquire employability skills. It is aimed at offenders with high employability needs. It was designed by both CSC and the Conference Board of Canada.
Offender Management System (OMS)
– a computerized case file management system that manages information on federal offenders throughout their sentence.
OPEX
– is a consulting firm that provides employment counsellors that help offenders identify their needs in terms of employment.
Program Assignment
– the assignment of an offender to a program, either correctional, educational or related to employment and employability.
Program Evaluation Report
– a report that is generated every 90 days to evaluate the performance of an offender as he/she participates in a program.
Revolving Fund
– a special fund allocated to SOA to allow them to operate independently from a-base funding. Revolving funds are provided to SOA who can generate revenues that will cover their operating costs. CORCAN has a revolving fund.
Special Operating Agency (SOA)
– an agency that operates independently from a department. The SOA concept is designed to achieve a balance between the philosophy of control (and risk avoidance) and the desire to encourage innovation and promote initiative. SOA sometimes have a revolving fund. CORCAN is a SOA.
Vocational Training
– is training provided to offenders designed to help them acquire the skills and the behaviour needed to gain employment in the community upon release.

Annex F

10 Year Statistics - CORCAN NationalFootnote 34

Number of offenders employed: Increased by 5.4% over 10 years

FY 2003/2004
4,001
FY 2004/2005
3,901
FY 2005/2006
4,064
FY 2006/2007
4,250
FY 2007/2008
4,538
FY 2008/2009
4,770
FY 2009/2010
4,281
FY 2010/2011
4,052
FY 2011/2012
4,201
FY 2012/2013
4,217
A graph representing the number of offenders employed from 2003-2013.

Number of offender employment hours: Increased by 39.3% over 10 years

FY 2003/2004
2,355,600
FY 2004/2005
2,275,356
FY 2005/2006
2,369,790
FY 2006/2007
2,552,700
FY 2007/2008
2,811,684
FY 2008/2009
2,834,562
FY 2009/2010
2,623,434
FY 2010/2011
2,488,116
FY 2011/2012
2,689,524
FY 2012/2013
2,671,836
A graph representing the number of offender employment hours from 2003-2013.

Number of offender vocational certificates: Increased by 235.9% over 10 years

FY 2003/2004
5,253
FY 2004/2005
6,572
FY 2005/2006
8,452
FY 2006/2007
7,207
FY 2007/2008
7,092
FY 2008/2009
9,184
FY 2009/2010
11,131
FY 2010/2011
13,949
FY 2011/2012
14,842
FY 2012/2013
17,646
A graph representing the number of offender vocational certificates from 2003-2013.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

Source: CCRA, section 3.

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Footnote 2

Source: CCRA, section 5(b).

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Footnote 3

Source: http://infonet/SoloSites/Transformation/home.htm?lang=en

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Footnote 4

Source: CCRA, section 3.

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Footnote 5

Source: CCRA, section 5 (b).

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Footnote 6

Source: http://infonet/SoloSites/Transformation/home.htm?lang=en

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Footnote 7

Includes CSC training fee and CORCAN operating loss/profit.

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Footnote 8

Source: Employment and Employability Sample, extracted from OMS April 15, 2012. This extract is updated twice a year.

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Footnote 9

Source: CORCAN InfoNet.

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Footnote 10

Source: CORCAN InfoNet.

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Footnote 11

Source: CORCAN 2011-2012 Financial Statements.

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Footnote 12

Source: The effect of prison employment and vocational training on long-term recidivism; Summary – CORCAN participation and post-release recidivism – 1991.

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Footnote 13

Source: Outcomes for Offender Employment Programs: The Impact of CORCAN Participation (August 2012).

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Footnote 14

Source: Outcomes for Offender Employment Programs: The Impact of CORCAN Participation (August 2012).

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Footnote 15

Source: Employability Skills of the Conference Board of Canada.

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Footnote 16

Source: Employment and Employability Year End Results FY 2011-2012.

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Footnote 17

Source: CORCAN Employment and Employability Year End Results FY 2011-2012.

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Footnote 18

In Quebec and Pacific, Community Employment Coordinators are hired consultants.

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Footnote 19

Chapter 10 – Correctional Service Canada – Rehabilitation Programs for Offenders.

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Footnote 20

NESP Evaluation Report.

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Footnote 21

Source: CORCAN 2011-2012 Business Plan.

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Footnote 22

Source: Executive Committee, April 2000.

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Footnote 23

Source: The Transformation Agenda, Report on Future Directions, July 2010.

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Footnote 24

Of the 248 offender files reviewed, 217 were for offenders with a sentence of 4 years or less.

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Footnote 25

Source: The Audit Report of Offender Population Management.

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Footnote 26

In fact, our tests considered a performance report to be late only after 100 days.

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Footnote 27

For our tests on initial assessment, we filtered out all files with correctional plans older than 2008, due to the fact that policy requirements were different prior to that date. Hence, we ended up with a sample of 248 instead of 347 files.

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Footnote 28

Source: The Transformation Agenda; Report on Future Directions, July 2010.

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Footnote 29

Source: 2011-2012 CORCAN Financial Statements.

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Footnote 30

Source: Evaluation Report on NESP. According to this report, the cost for NESP in FY 2008-2009 was $512,000 and 64 NESP sessions were delivered that year.

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Footnote 31

CD 700 - Annex A 2012-06-13

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Footnote 32

Source CD 726 Annex A dated 2013-0104

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Footnote 33

Source CD 726 Annex A dated 2013-01-04

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Footnote 34

Source: Datawarehouse (DW) refresh date: 2013-04-14 CJIL-DW (OMS)

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