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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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Ten-Year Status Report on Women’s Corrections



CSC Action Plan Update – March 2006

Commission of Inquiry into Certain Events at the Prison for Women in Kingston,
The Honourable Louise Arbour, Commissioner

April 1996

Arbour Recommendations
With respect to issues specific to women’s corrections, I recommend:  
4(a) that the position of Deputy Commissioner for Women be created within the Correctional Service of Canada, at a rank equivalent to that of Regional Deputy Commissioner; ACCEPTED. (COMPLETE)

Nancy Stableforth was appointed as the Deputy Commissioner for Women (DCW) in June 1996 at a rank equivalent to that of a Regional Deputy Commissioner. She served as the DCW until July 2004 when the current DCW, Anne Kelly, was appointed. The DCW is responsible for the effective policy and program development for women offenders as well as oversight/monitoring of service delivery for women offenders.

4(b) that the Deputy Commissioner for Women be a person sensitized to women’s issues and, preferably, with experience in other branches of the criminal justice system; ACCEPTED IN PRINCIPLE. (COMPLETE)

The statement of qualifications for the position of DCW references these elements among others required for a senior manager position in the public service. CSC is required by law to staff this position using the public service staffing process for executives and within this framework, will continue to seek out the best qualified candidate.

The current DCW, Anne Kelly, started her career with CSC in 1983 as a Case Management Officer. Over the years she has had a variety of assignments at the institutional, community, regional and national levels, and has worked in the Ontario and Pacific Regions. At the institution level, she worked with women offenders at Prison for Women as a case management supervisor. Prior to being appointed as the DCW, Ms. Kelly gained extensive managerial and policy experience both as Director General, Offender Programs and Reintegration and as the Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs. In those capacities, she was responsible for the interface with the Women Offender Sector on institutional and community corrections, with particular focus on program development, case management and security issues.

4(c) that the federally sentenced women’s facilities be grouped under a reporting structure independent of the Region, with the Wardens reporting directly to the Deputy Commissioner for Women; NOT ACCEPTED.

CSC recognizes that there is a need for a strong and effective governance structure to ensure that women offender issues receive the required corporate attention given that women offenders represent only approximately 4% of the total federal corrections population. However, after extensive discussion and review, CSC believes that a strong functional, rather than a line authority, model is the most effective governance structure balancing corporate attention and visibility with efficient use of resources. The functional model allows for a greater proportion of available resources to be directed at field operations by eliminating the need for duplication and overlap with existing administrative functions.

Under line authority, the DCW would be required to provide the services currently provided by regional and national headquarters managers and staff, such as direct supervision to the Wardens of the women’s institutions. Line authority could potentially isolate women’s corrections and could reduce the potential for ongoing administrative, program and management support available from the other corporate areas.

CSC works continuously to ensure that the needs and interests of women offenders are not marginalized by bringing to this portfolio the dedication and leadership not simply from one person, but from all members of the Executive Committee and the senior managers in the Service.

As a visible functional authority, the DCW is recognized by the Service as the senior manager accountable for the continued evolution of women’s corrections across all regions and functions, including measures to ensure program integrity. As a senior manager and member of CSC’s Executive Committee, the DCW carries a corporate responsibility which requires her input and sign-off on all correctional and departmental matters ranging from CSC’s National Training Standards (mandatory training) to the annual Report on Plans and Priorities.

While not a line authority, the DCW does have a direct relationship with the field units, in collaboration with the Regional Deputy Commissioners. The DCW is involved in the management of the women’s facilities through various internal governance structures such as the Assistant Deputy Commissioners Committee as well as the Women’s Wardens Committee which she chairs. Her staff directly monitor operational activities, especially in sensitive areas such as use of force and cross-gender staffing, for compliance with policy as well as for national consistency among the women offender institutions. As well, she collaborates with other NHQ functional areas with respect to women offender areas, including security, programs, human resources, policy and research.

4(d) that the Deputy Commissioner for Women take over the responsibility for the remaining phase of the implementation of the Federally Sentenced Women initiative with respect to the new facilities; ACCEPTED. (COMPLETE)

Upon her appointment in June 1996, the DCW immediately took over responsibility for the implementation of the regional women’s institutions. While the implementation phase is complete, ongoing operations present various challenges. The focus of the current DCW is to ensure operations remain true to the principles of Creating Choices and the operational philosophy reflected in Phase II of the Arbour Report while also ensuring that women’s corrections continues to evolve in light of new research and socio-economic changes. Thus, the DCW’s functional authority is focused on responsive and effective operations through policy, program and performance reviews, targeted development of new correctional programs and tools and the development of partnerships.

4(e) that research and development on issues related to women’s corrections be placed under the jurisdiction of the Deputy Commissioner for Women, with appropriate budgetary allocations; ACCEPTED IN PRINCIPLE. (COMPLETE)

The DCW does not have a separate group of research staff directly reporting to her. However, she does have the required resources to independently initiate projects, such as statistical trend analysis used to highlight potential issues requiring further attention, as well as to co-fund projects with the Research Branch or other functional areas such as the Programs Branch. The DCW also provides input into the Annual Research Plan.

Since the Arbour Report, the CSC Research Branch has established in-house expertise focused in the position of the Director Women Offender Research. The Director Women Offender Research works closely with the DCW to ensure research projects are identified and included in CSC’s Annual Research Plan. For example, several initiatives to explore factors that support or inhibit successful reintegration of women upon release are being proposed for the fiscal year 2006‑07 Research Plan.

As well, the Director Women Offender Research provides advice on methodology for analytical projects undertaken by DCW staff, such as the development of a specific initial security classification instrument for women offenders and a gender-informed security reclassification tool (refer to Recommendation 4.45, Auditor General Report; Recommendation 2(a), Public Accounts Committee; and 2(a), CHRC Report).

Reports on completed research and development projects can be found on the CSC website ( Examples of research on women over the last few years include:

  • Development and Field Test of a Gender-Informed Security Reclassification Scale for Women Offenders, CSC Research Report No. R‑167 2005.
  • A Needs Assessment of Federal Aboriginal Women Offenders, CSC Research Report No. R‑156 2004.
  • Federally Sentenced Women in Administrative Segregation: A Descriptive Analysis, CSC Research Report No. R‑158 2004.
  • Preliminary Evaluation of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy within a Women’s Structured Living Environment, CSC Research Report No. R‑145 2004.
  • Mental Health Needs of Women Offenders: Needs Analysis for the Development of the Intensive Intervention Strategy, Forum on Corrections Research, Vol. 14, No. 2, 05/2002.
  • Classifying Female Offenders for Effective Intervention: Application of the Case-Based Principles of Risk and Need. Forum on Corrections Research, Vol. 14, No. 1, 01/2002.

The DCW also has a collaborative arrangement with the CSC Programs Branch that ensures there is a senior manager responsible specifically for women offender programs.

4(f) that the Deputy Commissioner for Women initiate a revision of the law and policies applicable to the women’s institutions with a view to simplifying the rules and ensuring that administrative directives comply with the law. More specifically, the Deputy Commissioner should consider by-passing the level of “Regional Instructions” and operating exclusively through Commissioner’s Directives and Standing Orders pertinent to the local conditions of a given institution; ACCEPTED IN PRINCIPLE. (COMPLETE)

Refer to Recommendation 4(a).

In August 1996, CSC initiated a comprehensive review and revision of policy to ensure clear, concise, and consistent direction to employees. The Task Force on Policy Review submitted its report in November 1996, recommending a significant reduction of policy instruments overall. Since that time, the national policy instruments have been reviewed to ensure that they are consistent with CSC’s governing legislation – the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. The number of Regional Instructions and Standing Orders has been reduced significantly and all have been reviewed for consistency with national policy as set out in the Commissioner’s Directives.

Work to strengthen and renew the national policy framework is an ongoing endeavour. Recent process enhancements include:

  • the establishment of an Issues Analysis and Policy Committee to identify emerging national policy issues to provide a forum to discuss the issue in depth and determine whether it is policy or, for example, staff training or implementation adjustments, that is required; and to prepare a comprehensive preliminary analysis prior to launching the development of a Commissioner’s Directive;
  • the establishment of an internal process, the Management Control Framework Program (MCF), to enable managers to consistently and regularly self-monitor their compliance with policy. Each major policy has an associated MCF that focuses on the critical compliance elements; and
  • the establishment of revised guidelines for the development of national CSC policy and policy instruments.

CSC’s national policies are available to staff electronically. When policies are updated, a communiqué is sent to all staff announcing the change and the reasons for the change with a hyperlink to the policy document in question. CSC continues to use information technology to enhance staff access to the policy information that they need to do their work effectively and efficiently.

As a member of CSC’s Executive Committee, the Deputy Commissioner for Women’s sign-off is required on all new policies or amendments to ensure that specific needs and risks of women offenders are considered and, where applicable, articulated.

4(g) that the Deputy Commissioner for Women explore with each province and territory the desirability of cooperation in program delivery, transfers, joint staff training, and the like, with a view to achieving an administrative, if not legislative, unification of all correctional services for women offenders across the country. Failing that, Exchange of Services Agreements should be used to pursue that integration to the fullest possible level with each province interested in the enterprise; ACCEPTED IN PRINCIPLE. (ONGOING)

The DCW continues to explore the possibilities for shared accommodation, programs and other joint initiatives with provincial authorities.

There is a federal/provincial/territorial Heads of Corrections’ Female Offender Sub-Committee. The Sub-Committee currently has members from all jurisdictions with the exception of one. One of the current co-chairs of this Sub-Committee is the Director General, Women Offender Sector, CSC. The Sub-Committee has developed a proposed work plan, based on their discussions at their November 2005 meeting and December 2005 conference call, which will facilitate the exploration of joint initiatives among the various jurisdictions. The issue of programs for women offenders and accommodation issues for women offenders in the community are standing agenda items for information-sharing withiin the Sub-Committee, with action items outlined in their proposed work plan. In terms of community-based programming, the Sub-Committee will, for example, focus on opportunities for bi-jurisdictional partnerships for mental health programs and services, programs for Aboriginal women and substance abuse programs for women.

There are Exchange of Service Agreements with the majority of provinces and territories which provide the enabling mechanism to transfer women offenders between jurisdictions. These agreements also include enabling provisions for collaboration in such areas as programs; research and staff training. However, administrative unification of correctional services across the country is unlikely given that the majority of provincial women offenders serve sentences from a few days to a few months while federal women offenders serve from two years to life. Thus, the operational frames for provincial/territorial and federal corrections differ significantly.

While the DCW will continue to explore joint options with interested provinces and territories as opportunities arise, such potential arrangements will be carefully scrutinized to ensure any agreement is based on a long-term commitment to the correctional philosophy of research-based and results driven interventions which respect the legislative parameters for federal offenders. It must be recognized that even comprehensive administrative arrangements, such as the previously existing Burnaby Agreement with British Columbia, may have a shorter life-cycle than originally envisaged due to changes in one segment of the target population whether federal or provincial.

There have been several opportunities for smaller collaborative projects such as the arrangement with the Manitoba Department of Corrections. This arrangement allows CSC the opportunity to train staff and deliver the Circles of Change Program (developed by Manitoba Corrections) to the women offenders within CSC’s jurisdiction.

Discussions are currently underway between CSC and the Manitoba Department of Corrections to negotiate 20‑25 beds for federal women offenders at a provincial facility. This would address the need for women offenders from Manitoba to be accommodated closer to their home area, rather than transferring to Edmonton Institution for Women.

CSC has a contract with Institut Philippe-Pinel de Montréal, a provincial psychiatric facility in Quebec, to provide designated bed space and services to federal women offenders requiring intensive mental health intervention.

4(h) that the Deputy Commissioner for Women consult with women’s groups, in particular those that have participated in these proceedings, with a view to developing appropriate programs for women offenders, pursuant to s.77 of the CCRA; ACCEPTED. (ONGOING)

Since 1998, there have been several national and regional stakeholders meetings which include representatives from a large number and range of organizations working on women’s issues from a variety of perspectives. Some of these have been of a formal nature, e.g., national consultations in each year since 2003, and regional ones throughout that time period. Others have been of a less formal nature such as workshops/meetings in regions (e.g., Atlantic Community Residential Fair, November 2005; and Community Strategic Planning Committee, Ontario, January 2006) with CSC regional and national representatives meeting with advocacy groups. The exchange of ideas and input to policy development is considered important to continue on an ongoing basis.

In October 2004, the DCW hosted the consultation on CSC’s Response to the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) Report on women offender issues which included CSC representatives and the organizations who signed the original complaint, as well as representatives from the CHRC, National Parole Board, Office of the Correctional Investigator, Status of Women, the Women's Sub-Committee of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee and the National Aboriginal Advisory Board. The discussions at this three-day consultation were used to finalize CSC’s Action Plan in response to the CHRC report recommendations.

In September 2005, CSC convened a consultation meeting with national stakeholders, including women’s organizations, as part of the inspection process at Nova and Grand Valley Institution for Women by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons for England and Wales (refer to CHRC Recommendation 19). This provided an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss the inspection process with Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons, Anne Owers, and to input on the assessment process in key areas including programs and reintegration.

The DCW is also engaged in regular bilateral meetings with the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Office of the Correctional Investigator and other groups and agencies with respect to program development and other issues.

For the development of the approach and content of specific correctional programs, such as the Women Offender Substance Abuse Program, a subject-matter advisory committee is established and consultation is undertaken.

In 2004, the Program Strategy for Women Offenders was updated to reflect the new research findings and new programs established since the publication of the first Program Strategy in 1994. The revised and updated Program Strategy was the subject of broad consultation with community partners and academics before it was finalized and published. It is available on the CSC website

The Wardens of the women’s institutions also meet regularly with the local Citizens’ Advisory Committee, Elizabeth Fry Society, and other volunteer and community partners that are active in their institutions, including key Aboriginal stakeholders.

4(i) that in programming, priority be given to the development of work programs that
have a vocational training component,
provide a pay incentive; or
constitute a meaningful occupation.

CORCAN, a Special Operating Agency within CSC, is a key part of reintegration. CORCAN contributes to safe communities by providing employment training and employability skills to offenders in federal correctional institutions. During 2005-06 (to February 12, 2006), 380 vocational certificates were earned by women offenders in the following areas: food safety, WHMIS, first aid, forklift safety, traffic control, employability skills, computer training construction safety, construction framing, and fundamental shop skills (compared to 361 certificates earned in 2004‑05). Designated CORCAN employment positions in the institution provide a pay incentive.

CSC has committed to a series of actions to further address the employment need area for women offenders in the institution and in the community.

Employability Skills Program Pilot:

A gender-informed version of the national Employability Skills Program was developed by CORCAN in January 2005 and delivered at Joliette Institution and Fraser Valley Institution as part of a pilot project, the results of which were positive. Modifications were made to the program based on the feedback from staff and the participants, as well as a review of literature on women offenders and employability. Full implementation of the National Employability Skills Program in women offender institutions was approved and will be ongoing.

Employment Needs Survey:

CSC’s Research Branch completed an employment needs survey for both incarcerated women and women on conditional release: Employment Needs, Interests, and Programming for Women Offenders, Report #R‑166, which will be posted on the CSC website Some of the findings are as follows:


  • The majority of incarcerated women (57%) present some need for improvement in the employment domain.
  • Women offenders have high educational needs (66% do not have a high school diploma).
  • 58% of incarcerated women offenders do not have a skill, trade or profession to help them find a meaningful job.
  • An overwhelming 72% of women were unemployed at the time of their arrest and almost half (47%) were unemployed 90% or more of the time.


  • The majority of women in the community (65%) report that their current jobs were related to their work experience prior to incarceration and there is little association between their current employment and past institutional training.
  • Women in the community report that no employment services are offered or available to them and that they would be interested in accessing employment services such as those that provide links to employers, résumé writing, interview skills, job-search techniques.

National Employment Strategy for Women Offenders:

The information derived from the above-noted survey served as the basis for CSC’s development of a National Employment Strategy Framework for women offenders. Consultation will commence in April 2006.

4(j) that the first priority for the Deputy Commissioner for Women be the release and reintegration of women in custody. The Deputy Commissioner should immediately ensure the elimination of delays in case management which result in paperwork not being ready at the earliest opportunity for review by the Parole Board; that generous access be provided to community programs and that initiatives be pursued for placements pursuant to s.81 of the CCRA; and that other links to the community be cultivated so as to facilitate reintegration; ACCEPTED. (ONGOING)

CSC’s priority is ensuring the safety of the public through the safe release and reintegration of offenders. The DCW, in collaboration with the Regional Deputy Commissioners, is the lead senior manager regarding issues of release and reintegration of women offenders.

Elimination of delays in case management:

CSC monitors certain areas that could have an impact on case management delays, e.g., timely completion of Correctional Plans and timely program referrals in relation to release eligibility dates. CSC is examining the Intake Assessment Process for offenders serving short sentences to ensure that casework is done in a timely manner.

As well, CSC’s automated corporate information system includes access to “RADAR”, which provides staff with offender case information, data and the ability to more efficiently monitor timeliness on case management reports in relation to release eligibility dates.

Access to community programs and resources:

In the past few years, progress has been made throughout the regions in increasing the overall bed capacity for women, noting in particular:

  • increased bed capacity in Atlantic Region including Nehiley House, a new facility in Halifax, and the Elizabeth Fry Society apartment in Sydney, both for women exclusively;
  • the significant expansion of 40 more beds in Pacific region in the past year; and
  • a contract for Aboriginal women established with Anderson Lodge in Vancouver.

Improvements to the funding model have helped to keep smaller, traditional halfway houses open, and progress has occurred in diversifying with alternative models in certain locations.

To assist in understanding barriers to women offenders’ reintegration, a review of revocations without offence during FY 2003‑04 was completed. Steps have been identified to address the perceived contributing factors which include substance abuse issues (refer to Recommendation 4.100, Auditor General Report).

The community Relapse Prevention and Maintenance Program, a complementary program to the institutional substance abuse program, provides for continuous intake for immediate access and is designed for individual as well as group delivery. It is women-centred and holistic in nature and considers a broad scope of issues related to coping in the community.

A national pre-release program for women, Social Integration Program, is now being developed to better prepare women directly before re-entry in practical issues (including accessing resources). Community service representatives will be engaged in the delivery. Development and staff training will be completed in 2006.

Where there are sufficient numbers of women in the community to support specialized supervision units (i.e., in several high density urban centers), staff working exclusively with women have cultivated strong working relationships with community-based agencies and resources.

At a local level, circumstances and opportunities vary across the country for working in partnerships, but have resulted in a number of innovative good practices, e.g., STRIDE Networks of Support in Southwestern Ontario, the Edmonton Chaplaincy volunteers initiative, and the Stella Burry Corporation Community Support Program in St John’s, Nfld. (Also refer to Recommendation 4(h)).

In the next four years, additional resources are being made available for service contracts to enhance the links to community for offenders with mental health problems, an area of high need for women offenders.

Apart from funded programming, there are many examples of good practices for access to community-based programs and services at the local level across the country. Some involve specially trained volunteers providing support networks, others are inter-governmental in nature, etc.

Section 81 and 84

Ten Aboriginal Community Development Officer (ACDO) positions have been staffed across the country to create links for both men and women offenders with Aboriginal communities, raise Aboriginal community interest in participating in the correctional process, and initiate Section 84 agreements. As well, an Aboriginal Advisory Committee has been established in the Pacific Region to explore Section 81 and 84 agreements for women offenders.

An ACDO meeting was held in March 2005 at Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge and the development of sustainable strategies to enhance the use of Section 84 agreements for Aboriginal women offenders was discussed.

A review of Section 84 arrangements was completed which included the input from the institutions and community. On the basis of this review, the DCW provided the Wardens of women’s institutions with some best practices that should be considered by all institutions:

  • compulsory information sharing session with all Aboriginal offenders;
  • ensuring interviews at Intake with an Elder, Aboriginal Liaison or representative from the Native Sisterhood; and
  • incorporating a statement with respect to Section 84 in all Correctional Plans.

Institutional awareness sessions have been held at various women’s facilities to increase both staff and inmate knowledge about Section 81 and 84 provisions. The Parole Officer Orientation Induction Training Program now includes a component on Section 81 and 84 agreements.

The Aboriginal Initiatives Branch produced a “Section 84 Conditional Release Planning Kit” that contains considerable information on the Section 84 process. The electronic version of this kit was sent to the Wardens of the women offender institutions in April 2005. Hard copy kits were distributed to all institutions in November 2005, advising that a copy should be given to all offenders at Intake who indicate an interest in this type of release process. This will increase the awareness of staff and offenders of this release option.

Other links to the community:

CSC has a substantial volunteer base in the women’s institutions with a total of 475 volunteers from various community organizations and support networks establishing links between the institution and the community. The Citizens’ Advisory Committee is very active at each site with a total of 40 members for the women’s institutions.

4(k) that the Deputy Commissioner for Women be specifically mandated to explore and implement progressive correctional techniques, even on an experimental basis, for the benefit of incarcerated women and, when properly adapted if need be, for the benefit of all prisoners; ACCEPTED. (ONGOING)

As noted under Recommendation 4(e), the DCW works pro-actively with the CSC Research Branch to increase knowledge of women’s corrections/offending as the basis for identifying opportunities for innovations and progressive changes to current practices. The DCW also uses broad consultations, such as those outlined under Recommendation 4(j) as another way to continuously improve correctional effectiveness. Examples of progressive correctional techniques include:

The Mother-Child Program: One of the major concerns identified in the 1990 Task Force was the separation of women from their children and families. This was particularly critical given the number of women who have children. The Task Force recommendation, that the women would be allowed to have their children with them in the institution, subject to certain conditions and criteria, was accepted by the Government. The goal of the Mother-Child Program in the regional institutions is to foster positive relationships between mothers and their children; however, the overriding focus and basis for decision-making is the best interests of the child, and the child’s participation in the program must be approved by the respective department of social/children’s services. Since the national implementation of the Mother-Child Program in 2001, 36 children have participated in the part-time program and 19 children have participated in the full-time program.

Pawsitive Directions: This dog training program is unique to Nova Institution for Women and has three phases of training: classroom instruction, canine obedience training and advanced assistance dog training. The program’s impact is provided in the evaluation report completed by CSC’s Research Branch with the assistance of an Advisory Committee. It is available on CSC’s website (R‑108 2001: Results of an Evaluation of the Pawsitive Directions Canine Program at Nova Institution for Women). Overall, the program received a positive evaluation based on quantitative and qualitative data, and made five recommendations for further improvement: reinstatement of a program steering committee; staff awareness sessions regarding the program; a formal “re-screening” process; construction of a kennel and amendments to the institutional Standing Order for the canine program. Various models of canine programs are being explored for other institutions.

Structured Living Environment (SLE) and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT): SLE houses were implemented in 2001 and were purpose-designed and programmed to meet the needs of women offenders who require daily living support due to mental health issues, but who do not require the static security of the Secure Units.

DBT is a psychotherapeutic treatment approach developed to treat women suffering from severe emotion dysregulation, such as Borderline Personality Disorder. Based on Linehan's (1993) model, the correctional adaptation of DBT applies cognitive behavioural principles in its treatment approach. DBT was implemented in 2002 within the SLE’s in each of the women's regional facilities across Canada. The goal of DBT is for individuals to learn and refine skills and identify and change rigid patterns of thinking and behaviour that are associated with significant problems in living.

The two components of the SLE (DBT and Psychosocial Rehabilitation, which is for individuals with basic skill needs and cognitive challenges) have been evaluated and qualitative research reports are available. Overall evaluation results supported the effectiveness of DBT and highlighted areas for further development. The number of women is sufficient to support a quantitative evaluation and this is currently underway.

4(l) that the Deputy Commissioner for Women be given the discretion to implement family contact programs, including financially assisted telephone calls or family visits, even if the same are not available to incarcerated men, to recognize the different circumstances and needs of women, particularly, but not restricted to, their child care responsibilities; ACCEPTED IN PRINCIPLE. (ONGOING)

CSC provided funding for annual family visits and 15 minute monthly telephone calls for women offenders at Prison for Women until its closure; this was in accordance with the short-term recommendations of Creating Choices. At the regional institutions, the women are granted authorization to telephone family members at admission, at no cost to themselves, and as appropriate under various circumstances (e.g., family emergency).

The institutions also undertake local initiatives to support family connections, for example, through family days, family meals and special events.

Once the regional institutions for women were fully operational, the Mother-Child Program was implemented to allow eligible women offenders to have their infants reside with them until age four, provided that the residency remained in the best interests of the child. This unique program also provides for extended residential visits for children up to the age of 12. The policy framework for the Mother-Child Program is set out in Commissioner’s Directive 768, available on the CSC website (

For older children and other family members and friends, the institution’s weekly visiting schedule provides opportunities for evening, weekend and special visits. As well, Temporary Absences provide opportunities for family contact and the Private Family Visiting units at the regional institutions are accessible to the women on a regular basis, with minimal waiting times. The eligibility of visitors for Private Family Visits has been broadened in CSC policy in recent years so that it may include visitors with whom the inmate has a “close familial bond”. Commissioner’s Directive 770, Visiting, is available on the CSC website (

CSC’s Working Group on Families of Offenders was established in 2004 to develop CSC’s strategy in response to A Strategic Approach and Policy Document to Address the Needs of Families of Offenders (2003). This report was completed by the Canadian Families and Corrections Network based on extensive public consultations. They outlined recommendations toward improved interaction between offenders and their families which contributes to eventual safe reintegration of offenders. The Working Group, which is led by CSC’s Chaplaincy Branch, includes representation from many branches of CSC, including the Women Offender Sector. The Working Group has evaluated the recommendations and is in the process of conducting regional consultation on activities and results in this regard.

4(m) that complaint and grievance procedures be amended to provide that all second level grievances arising from an institution for women be directed to the Deputy Commissioner for Women, rather than to the Regional level; NOT ACCEPTED.

While the recommendation was not accepted, the Women Offender Sector conducts an analysis, twice a year, on the issues raised by women offenders via the complaint and grievance process. Key issues that emerge are followed up with the respective Wardens. Findings from the review of the 1st and 2nd Quarter of 2005-06, note good timeliness in responses to complaints and grievances and the completion of thorough assessment of issues in responses. A copy of the complaint and grievance analysis is forwarded to the Office of the Correctional Investigator.

A review of the Offender Redress System has resulted in recommendations for more sustainable solutions to ensuring quality and timely responses to grievances. Decisions will be made in this regard in April 2006.

4(n) that the Deputy Commissioner for Women answer personally all complaints or grievances addressed to him or her; NOT ACCEPTED.

Since 1996, in response to the Arbour Report, the DCW is consulted on all third level grievances from women offenders prior to response at the national level. As well, the DCW has ensured the identification of a grievance code for complaints and grievances related to the National Operational Protocol Front Line Staffing. This coding also applies to CD 577, Operational Requirements for Cross-Gender Staffing in Women Offender Institutions (refer to Recommendation 5(b)).

The DCW also ensures that appropriate follow-up is undertaken in response to complaints and issues that are directed to her by women offenders. The DCW also responds to complaints and issues affecting women offenders that are raised by external stakeholders such as Citizens’ Advisory Committees, Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies and the Office of the Correctional Investigator.

4(o) that the Deputy Commissioner for Women ensure that progress made through the Healing Lodge be shared, inasmuch as feasible, with incarcerated Aboriginal men; ACCEPTED. (COMPLETE)

The DCW works collaboratively with the CSC Aboriginal Initiatives Branch on issues and action plans affecting Aboriginal women offenders.

In addition to Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge for women, there are seven healing lodges for male offenders.

An evaluation of Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge was completed in September 2002; the final report and action plan in response to the recommendations were approved by CSC in September 2004 and are posted on the website ( The lessons learned from this evaluation have been incorporated into the Healing Lodge Improvement Plan developed by the Aboriginal Initiatives Branch. The Aboriginal Initiatives Branch also hosts periodic meetings of the directors of Healing Lodges to facilitate sharing of information and common problem-solving.

4(p) that the Correctional Investigator assign an investigator to deal specifically with issues related to women’s corrections, and that any complaint emerging from the new regional facilities be directed to that person. ACCEPTED BY THE OFFICE OF THE CORRECTIONAL INVESTIGATOR.

The Office of the Correctional Investigator has an investigator assigned to deal specifically with women offender issues.