Mandate and Law

Why We Do What We Do

Other countries and jurisdictions often look to Canada for guidance on correctional matters.  The same can be said for our chaplaincy services.  As long as there have been penitentiaries in Canada, there have been chaplains.  The religious and spiritual allowances that the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) provides for its offenders are guided by the following:


The Mission Statement of the Correctional Service of Canada commits the Service to accommodating the cultural and religious needs of individuals.  This is reflected in both our Guiding Principles (Core Value 1) and Strategic Objectives (1.7).

Memorandum of Understanding with the Interfaith Committee on Chaplaincy

Beginning in 1982, CSC entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Interfaith Committee on Chaplaincy, outlining the relationship and joint responsibility of both parties to provide religious and spiritual care to federal offenders. 


The Corrections and Conditional Release Act underlines the importance of the spiritual dimension of life (Section 75). The Corrections and Conditional Release Regulations guarantee interfaith chaplaincy services and the assembly of inmates for the purpose of expressing a religion or spirituality (Section 100 and 101).

National Legislation

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides for the freedom of conscience and religion (Section 2).  It also states that every individual has the right to equal protection under the law without discrimination based on religion (Section 15).

The Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion (Section 2).  Furthermore, over the past few years the Canadian Human Rights Commission has upheld a number of requests for accommodation of valid religious and spiritual practices within our institutions.

International Conventions

When interpreting the Canadian legislation, reference is often made to United Nations conventions that relate to human rights and correctional issues.  Specifically, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 18) states that everyone has the right to freedom of religion, including the freedom to change religion or belief, and to manifest that belief in teaching, practice and worship. 

The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners Section 42 says that as far as practicable, every prisoner shall be allowed to satisfy the needs of religious life by attending the services within institutions and having possession of books of religious observance and instruction. 

The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Non-Custodial Measures, otherwise known as the Tokyo Rules, are measures intended to promote greater community involvement in the management of criminal justice.  In other words: minimum standards for parole.  Chaplains can be an important part of an offender's reintegration into society, thus the Tokyo Rules become a component of a chaplain's mandate.

The United Nations Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment Principle 5 states that the fundamental principles of protection apply to all persons within the territory of any given State, without distinction of any kind, such as race, sex, religious or political belief, birth or other status.