Commissioner's Directive

Management of Emergencies in Operational Units



  • To ensure that operational units are prepared to deal with internal or external emergencies in order to protect the safety and security of the public, staff and inmates


Applies to all staff assigned to operational units


  1. The Director General, Security, will:
    1. establish operational standards and requirements for the management of emergencies in operational units
    2. ensure there are procedures in place for the activation and operation of the National Crisis Information Centre
    3. ensure that contingency plans are reviewed at the national level in accordance with the contingency plan content requirements, that they are inserted into the Crisis Response and Security Information Management System and that a paper copy is signed by the Institutional Head/District Director and placed in the National Crisis Information Centre annually, or as required based on operational changes
    4. identify one staff member not below the Director level to be responsible for the coordination of all activities related to emergency planning. This staff member will be responsible for the activities in the National Crisis Information Centre.
  2. The Regional Deputy Commissioner will:
    1. ensure there are procedures in place for the activation and operation of the Regional Crisis Information Centre
    2. identify one staff member not below the Regional Administrator level to be responsible for the coordination of all activities related to emergency planning. This staff member will be responsible for the activities in the Regional Crisis Information Centre.
  3. The Institutional Head/District Director will:
    1. ensure contingency plans identify additional measures, including external resources, that may be employed during emergencies
    2. ensure that at least one exercise is conducted every 12 months to test the effectiveness of contingency plans and to give staff members the necessary practice in their respective roles in the event of an operational emergency
    3. ensure staff follow processes and share information in responding to medical emergencies pursuant to GL 800-4 – Response to Medical Emergencies.
  4. The Assistant Warden, Operations/Manager of Operations will:
    1. be responsible for the coordination of all activities related to emergency planning to ensure an appropriate response capacity
    2. ensure contingency plans dealing with the evacuation of inmates in the event of fire are reviewed and approved by the applicable regional Fire Safety Officer.
  5. The Area Director will designate a staff member not below the Parole Officer Supervisor level to be responsible for the coordination of all activities related to emergency planning to ensure an appropriate response capacity.


Emergency Planning

  1. All emergency planning activities are designed to ensure that, in the event of an emergency:
    1. the safety of the community and well-being of staff and inmates are protected during the management of the emergency
    2. offenders are managed in a safe and humane manner
    3. government property is protected
    4. the operational unit is returned to normal operations at the earliest time possible.
  2. The information contained in the operational unit contingency plans will be considered to be the mandatory minimum standards to be met in the contingency planning for the management of emergencies.

Response to Emergencies

  1. Only the Institutional Head may declare the existence of an emergency and enact the Crisis Management Model. When emergencies occur outside normal working hours, the designated Correctional Manager/Officer in Charge will assume the role of interim Crisis Manager, until they are relieved by the Institutional Head or other persons identified as alternates in local contingency plans. When the Crisis Management Model is enacted, the Crisis Manager or alternate must attend the institution to manage the emergency.
  2. When an incident occurs outside normal working hours that is deemed not to require the enactment of the Crisis Management Model, the Correctional Manager/Officer in Charge will utilize on-site resources and may recall additional staff. If the Emergency Response Team or Crisis Negotiators are required, the Correctional Manager/Officer in Charge will seek verbal authorization from the identified Crisis Manager or alternate. If authorized, the Correctional Manager/Officer in Charge will review and approve the Situation, Mission, Execution, Administration and Communications (SMEAC) Action Plan (CSC/SCC 1212) prepared by the Emergency Response Team Leader.
  3. In the event of a riot, a verbal order to cease and desist will be given at the onset of the incident or as soon as possible thereafter. If the order is ignored, pursuant to section 67 of the Criminal Code, the Institutional Head or Deputy Warden will command silence and read, in a loud voice, the riot proclamation in both official languages.
  4. In responding to any emergency situation, the specific goals of an operational unit will be:
    1. preservation of life
    2. prevention of injury
    3. minimizing property damage
    4. returning to normal operations as soon as possible.
  5. Where circumstances permit, the Institutional Head will ensure that Correctional Officers/Primary Workers video record all significant incidents. If the incident includes a medical emergency, filming will continue until treatment of the inmate is taken over by a health care professional. Medical emergencies will be managed pursuant to GL 800-4 – Response to Medical Emergencies.

Granting of Minor Concessions

  1. CSC’s policy in dealing with hostage takings and related crisis situations will be to refuse to yield to the demands of the inmate(s) or other person associated with the crisis.
  2. Notwithstanding the above, minor concessions (such as those outlined in Annex B) may be granted, especially if doing so will reduce the risk to hostages, risk to self-harm, risk of property damage, or facilitate surveillance activities or negotiations with the inmates involved.
  3. The decision to grant minor concessions will rest entirely with the Crisis Manager, who may not deviate from the basic policy stated above, nor accede to any demand that could aid hostage takers' escape or endanger the life or safety of another person.
  4. Drugs must not be given to inmates as items of negotiation. However, as CSC remains responsible for providing essential health care, inmates will continue to be provided with prescribed medication and treatments.
  5. No one in contact with inmates involved in emergencies will enter into an oral or written agreement that would allow those involved, or any other inmate, to derive ultimate benefit from an illegal act.
  6. Where there is doubt concerning a possible benefit resulting from an illegal activity, the Crisis Manager will consult Regional Headquarters to resolve the doubt. If necessary, National Headquarters may be contacted to resolve the doubt.

Specialized Response Capability

  1. Consideration must be given to utilizing Crisis Negotiators as an attempt to resolve or diffuse the situation without the use of force.
  2. Normally, only trained staff members will be called upon to act as Crisis Negotiators. However, the use of a Negotiator from outside of CSC may be considered, but only after the Regional Deputy Commissioner has indicated their approval.
  3. The Institutional Head of all security levels, with the exception of standalone minimum institutions, will establish a specialized security response capacity, such as Emergency Response Teams and Crisis Negotiation Teams, to deal with emergencies.
  4. The number of approved Emergency Response Team members will not normally exceed 15 members at medium and multi-level security institutions and 20 members at maximum security institutions. At the discretion of the Institutional Head, additional team members may be recommended for approval to the Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Correctional Operations. Factors involved in considering the need for additional members include but are not limited to a timely emergency response, proximity to outside police assistance, security classification and profile of offenders housed in the respective institution, and isolation of the institution.
  5. New membership on the Emergency Response Team will be selected from the Correctional Officer/Primary Worker and Staff Training Officer groups. Emergency Response Team members who accept an indeterminate position outside these groups or are located outside of an institution will forsake their Emergency Response Team membership. At the discretion of the Institutional Head, if the complement required is unattainable, team members outside of these occupational groups may be recommended for approval to the Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Correctional Operations.
  6. Emergency Response Team members and Crisis Negotiators will receive the required training in accordance with the National Training Standards.
  7. All Emergency Response Teams will be equipped in accordance with Section E of the Security Equipment Manual.
  8. Enrollment on Emergency Response Teams is voluntary. Each volunteer member will sign an Emergency Response Team Membership Letter of Agreement (CSC/SCC 1551e) that outlines the requirements and commitment.

Women Offender Institution Emergency Response Team

  1. The women offender institution Emergency Response Team will be comprised of female staff only.
  2. When Emergency Response Team members from other sites and police forces are requested to assist with a situation at a women offender institution, their role will be directed by the Institutional Head in consultation with the other individual(s) Institutional Head/police services equivalent. No men will participate in the strip search of a woman inmate either as the person conducting the search or as the witness.
  3. The contingency plan for women offender institutions will specify the roles, responsibilities and protocols to be followed by male Emergency Response Team members (from other institutions) and male police force members during an intervention with women inmates.

Letters of Agreement Between Institutions

  1. The Institutional Head will establish a letter of agreement with other CSC operational units. These agreements will specify the support that each may provide during an emergency. A copy will be kept in the contingency plan.

Release of Information

  1. Any information regarding an emergency will only be released by a designated spokesperson in consultation with Regional Headquarters or National Headquarters Communications.
  2. The Crisis Manager will:
    1. ensure incidents are reported in accordance with CD 568-1 – Recording and Reporting of Security Incidents
    2. ensure that the necessary information is provided to the supporting agencies such as police, fire departments, paramedics, hospitals and the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces
    3. liaise with a representative from Aboriginal Elders/Spiritual Advisors and/or Chaplaincy to determine the most appropriate way of notifying the families of the victims
    4. ensure that details are given to the media as soon as practical, in consultation with Regional Headquarters Communications and, if necessary based on the scope of the emergency, National Headquarters Communications
    5. notify the Citizen Advisory Committee.
  3. Management at all levels will ensure that all unions are notified of the emergency.
  4. Personal information will only be released to the media, the Correctional Investigator, the unions or any other person in accordance with the relevant provision of subsection 8(2) of the Privacy Act. If disclosure is contemplated under paragraph 8(2)(m) of the Privacy Act, the Commissioner's approval must be obtained.

National and Regional Crisis Information Centres

  1. National and Regional Crisis Information Centres will be established and the Emergency Coordinator at these centres will:
    1. ensure that accurate, up-to-date information is available to the Minister of Public Safety, the Commissioner, all levels of management, the Correctional Investigator and union officials
    2. ensure that information released to the public through the media is accurate, coordinated and consistent at all levels, and that it takes into consideration those factors which may be beyond the resolution of the emergency itself. No statement regarding the situation may be released unless it has been so coordinated
    3. coordinate the obtaining of resources from outside agencies
    4. provide advice and assistance as required.

Correctional Investigator

  1. Pursuant to section 174 of the CCRA, the Correctional Investigator or a representative may decide to be present at the site as an observer during an emergency. In such a case, National Headquarters will ensure that this decision is passed on to the Regional Deputy Commissioner, who will in turn advise the Crisis Manager.
  2. The unannounced arrival of the Correctional Investigator or representative at the scene of the emergency will be brought to the attention of National Headquarters through Regional Headquarters.

Assistance from Police Services

  1. A national memorandum of understanding is in place with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
  2. For jurisdictions that are not served by the RCMP, the Institutional Head/District Director will establish a memorandum of understanding with the police service of jurisdiction. Such agreements must establish the type of support that may be received or provided during an emergency. A copy will be kept in the contingency plan.
  3. Once a need for assistance from the RCMP or police of jurisdiction has been identified, the Crisis Manager will advise the Regional Deputy Commissioner and the local detachment of the need and the type of assistance required. A formal request will be sent from the Regional Deputy Commissioner to the RCMP District Headquarters.

Assistance from the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces

  1. The primary assistance from the military is to provide CSC with support in the area of infrastructure and equipment.
  2. Requests for military assistance will be made only when it is determined that the combined resources of CSC and the police service with primary jurisdiction or the RCMP are not adequate to deal with the emergency.
  3. The request for military assistance will be presented to the Emergency Coordinator of the National Crisis Information Centre. At this time, the Crisis Manager will prepare the request for assistance, identifying possible requirements such as equipment needed.
  4. Formal requests for assistance will be made by the Minister of Public Safety to the Minister of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.
  5. Once it is determined that Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces support is necessary, the local identified military unit will be notified and advised that a formal request for assistance is forthcoming. Upon receipt of a request for assistance, the Emergency Coordinator of the National Crisis Information Centre will immediately take the necessary action to seek the authorization of the Minister of Public Safety to request support from the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.
  6. Once approved, the request will be communicated by telephone to the National Defence Headquarters Operations Centre, followed by a formal confirmation bearing the signature of the Minister of Public Safety.

Assistance Offered to Those Directly Affected by the Emergency

  1. The Crisis Manager will ensure that procedures are in place to provide assistance for individuals (or their families) directly affected by the emergency.

Recording of Communications

  1. To facilitate the conduct of inquiries following emergencies, automatic recording systems must be in place for telephones in the Emergency Command Post (and backup), Main Communications Control Post, Regional and National Crisis Information Centres, and for all radio communication.

Serious Incidents Involving Staff

  1. For the purpose of this section, a serious incident is one that results in death or serious injury to a staff member through an act of violence. In all such instances, the activities described below will be undertaken as soon as reasonably possible until the Institutional Head deems the activity to be no longer required:
    1. independent observers such as the Citizen Advisory Committee or the Office of the Correctional Investigator will be contacted and will be allowed reasonable access in selected areas of the institutionto provide impartial observation of operations
    2. a manager will be posted in the segregation area to supervise activities
    3. the institutional Physician or Nurse will conduct a physical assessment of all inmates involved in the incident
    4. a Health Care Manager will visit the segregation area at least once a week and, if a health care related issue should arise, a written briefing will be provided to the Institutional Head. The Health Care Manager will also make periodic visits to all other areas of the institution to verify the physical and mental well-being of the inmates
    5. documents, logs, records, and audio and visual recordings that relate to the activities of the institution before, during and after the incident will be stored securely
    6. the Duty Correctional Manager will maintain an accurate record of work assignments
    7. inmates who have been involved in, have committed or are suspected of an offence resulting in the serious injury or death of one or more staff members will be removed from the institution as soon as possible. Normally, transfers will not take place prior to consultation with the police involved and they will be conducted by the receiving institution
    8. if the Emergency Response Team is deployed to conduct a search pursuant to section 53 of the CCRA and/or section 53 of the CCRR, the situation will be managed in accordance with CD 567 – Management of Security Incidents. The Emergency Command Post at the institutional level will be activated
    9. the Crisis Manager will ensure that the designated representative of the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team is contacted promptly in order to determine the need for CISM intervention and appropriate support, based on a needs assessment performed by trained CISM team member and in accordance with GL 253-2 ─ Critical Incident Stress Management.


Original Signed by:
Don Head




CD 041 – Incident Investigations
GL 253-2 – Critical Incident Stress Management
CD 345 – Fire Safety
CD 351 – Employee Clothing Entitlements
CD 564-6 – Business Continuity Program
CD 567 – Management of Incidents
CD 567-1 – Use of Force
CD 567-2 – Use of and Responding to Alarms
CD 567-3 – Use of Restraint Equipment for Security Purposes
CD 567-4 – Use of Chemical and Inflammatory Agents
CD 567-5 – Use of Firearms
CD 568-1 – Recording and Reporting of Security Incidents
GL 800-4 – Response to Medical Emergencies


Contingency plan : a plan developed for a specific event or incident.

Contingency planning : an assessment of the vital elements of plans for resolving emergencies; a review of internal and external resources; and the establishment of command, control, communications and deployment procedures.

Crisis Information Centre : a centre located at National or Regional Headquarters, and equipped and staffed in order to support the Crisis Manager. The National Crisis Information Centre is designated as a “think tank” to review contingency plans, advise the Crisis Manager and pass accurate information to those who need to know.

Crisis Management Model : a temporary reorganization of the unit hierarchy, designed to prevent crises from escalating, by giving all affected staff and resources free access to one another during an emergency while maintaining control over all aspects of the operation. The model is used to manage emergencies both in institutions and in the community.

Emergency Command Post: in a crisis, all direction will come from the Emergency Command Post. It should be an area large enough to accommodate the Crisis Management Team members who work directly with the Crisis Manager. A separate area nearby must be designated for other team members whose positions do not require close proximity to the Crisis Manager.

Exercise: a simulated scenario or live situation in which an organization practises its response activities to test its contingency plan and Business Continuity Plan. Annual exercises will be carried out in order to randomly test, in a non-repetitive manner, each contingency plan and Business Continuity Plan. The outcome of an exercise is to allow an organization to reveal planning weaknesses or gaps in resources, improve organizational coordination and communications, clarify roles and responsibilities, improve individual performance and satisfy regulatory requirements.

Operational emergency: a situation with the potential to endanger the public, staff or inmates, damage or destroy public property, or affect the public image of the Government of Canada.

Operational unit: an institution, district or area parole office, or Community Correctional Centre.



  1. The following are examples of demands which may not be granted :
    1. transfers, except to the Special Handling Unit
    2. additional hostages
    3. the release of other inmates
    4. additional persons who might assist hostage takers in their venture
    5. exchange of hostages
    6. release to freedom
    7. termination of any staff member
    8. pardon for any previous offence
    9. immunity from prosecution for criminal acts committed during an incident
    10. weapons, restraint equipment or any object which would strengthen the position of the hostage takers
    11. drugs other than those prescribed by a Physician for the necessary medical treatment of staff members and inmates.
  2. The following are examples of demands which may be granted:
    1. physical or mental health assessment
    2. special visit
    3. special phone call
    4. necessary medical and health care services, including medication authorized by a Physician, to be provided to staff members and inmates
    5. food
    6. non-alcoholic beverages.

For more information

To learn about upcoming or ongoing consultations on proposed federal regulations, visit the Canada Gazette and Consulting with Canadians websites.