Commissioner's Directive

Chaplaincy Services


  • To accommodate inmates’ religious and spiritual rights through facilitation of services offered by Qualified Professional Official Representatives (QPOR) of Canadian faith communities and their volunteers
  • To affirm and support the role of spirituality in inmate rehabilitation and reintegration, ensuring that inmates, regardless of faith background or beliefs, are offered equal opportunity to deal with issues of faith, purpose and meaning, and relationship with self and others


Applies to staff, contractors and volunteers responsible for chaplaincy services


  1. The Assistant Commissioner, Correctional Operations and Programs, has the authority to develop applicable guidelines relating to the provision of religious and spiritual services to inmates that must be followed.
  2. The Head of Chaplaincy Services at National Headquarters will ensure:
    1. measures are in place to ensure all inmates can access Chaplaincy Services
    2. measures are in place to assess the consistency and quality of Chaplaincy Services provided to inmates
    3. an Annual Chaplaincy Service Delivery Plan is developed for each institution
  3. The Institutional Head will:
    1. ensure that inmates in all areas of the institution have access to Chaplaincy Services and, correspondingly, that Chaplains have access to inmates in all areas of the institution
    2. facilitate integration of Chaplains in the institution through their participation on interdisciplinary teams within the parameters of professional practice, policies and procedures
    3. support the recruitment, screening, oversight, and security orientation of Chaplaincy volunteers
    4. identify, maintain and provide inmate access to sacred space, which is exclusively reserved for religious and spiritual activities
    5. ensure that adequate space for Chaplaincy management and private religious and spiritual care is made available to Chaplains
    6. ensure that religious and spiritual resources for inmates are available
    7. ensure that Healing Centres/Healing Lodges provide inmates with access to Chaplaincy Services upon request
    8. ensure that Chaplains have access to Radar and the Offender Management System and are included on appropriate distribution lists so they are aware of new admissions, transfers and releases of inmates
    9. designate an institutional manager to work in consultation with Chaplaincy to implement the Annual Chaplaincy Service Delivery Plan, and to provide other operational support as required.


  1. In addition to normal access to Chaplaincy activities, CSC will offer Chaplaincy Services to inmates in response to crises.
  2. Upon request and as appropriate, CSC will offer Chaplaincy Services to inmates in situations which may include:
    1. on escorted temporary absence/unescorted temporary absence
    2. hospitalized outside the institution
    3. participating in parole hearings.

Religious and Spiritual Practices

  1. Inmate religious accommodation requests will be managed pursuant to GL 750-1 – Inmate Religious Accommodations.

Family Participation in Religious Celebrations

  1. Every reasonable effort will be made to facilitate inmate contact with their community support, including family, subject to operational and Correctional Plan considerations. The Institutional Head is responsible to determine the level of external participation in religious and spiritual celebrations held at the institution.

Death of an Inmate While in Custody

  1. Action to be taken around the death of an inmate is governed by CD 530 - Death of an Inmate: Notifications and Funeral Arrangements. In addition, institutions may have Standing Orders on the subject and the Institutional Head may request assistance of Chaplaincy concerning some of his/her responsibilities.
  2. If the death is anticipated by Health Services, CSC should facilitate ritual requirements in accordance with CSC's Palliative Care Guidelines. Staff must check the inmate's religious affiliation on the Offender Management System and consult with Chaplaincy before releasing the body in order to ensure that the arrangements are appropriate.


Original Signed by:
Don Head



GL 253-2 - Critical Incident Stress Management
CD 530 - Death of an Inmate: Notifications and Funeral Arrangements
CD 700 - Correctional Interventions
CD 702 - Aboriginal Offenders
CD 705-6 - Correctional Planning and Criminal Profile
CD 710-1 - Progress Against the Correctional Plan
GL 750-1 – Inmate Religious Accommodations

Memorandum of Understanding Between the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) and the Interfaith Committee on Chaplaincy (IFC)
Palliative Care Guidelines
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, section 18
United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, section 42
United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Non-Custodial Measures (the Tokyo Rules)
United Nations Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment


Annual Chaplaincy Service Delivery Plan : an analysis by operational units to determine Chaplaincy Service needs and capacity, including the related resource requirements, that communicates to administrators, staff and inmates the type of services to be provided at the institution, a general schedule of use for sacred space, and a clear plan for the upcoming period.

Chaplain: a Qualified Professional Official Representative (QPOR) of a religious or spiritual community who provides and/or facilitates religious/spiritual services and care in a secular or institutional context (i.e., health care, military, correctional, police, fire, etc.). In the CSC context, a Chaplain, while a QPOR of a specific tradition, is responsible to ensure the religious and spiritual needs of all inmates are met.

Chaplaincy Services: activities provided and facilitated by Chaplains in response to the religious and spiritual needs of inmates regardless of their beliefs. Chaplaincy Services are delivered and/or facilitated exclusively by those designated as QPORs. These services are supported by Canadian faith communities and grounded in the principles of restorative justice and successful community reintegration.

Crises: include but are not limited to suicide or attempted suicide, grief due to death or loss, relationship difficulties and/or endings, assault or other harm, witness to trauma and parole denial.

Operational support: includes but is not limited to input into the development and implementation of the Annual Chaplaincy Service Delivery Plan and activities required to ensure integration of Chaplaincy Service delivery within the institutional environment as described in both the Guidelines and the statement of work for Chaplains.

Qualified Professional Official Representatives (QPOR): individuals who are formally recognized and approved by their religious or spiritual community to perform services (rites, rituals, education, etc.)   on behalf of that community.

Religious and spiritual practice: includes but is not limited to religious rites and spiritual rituals as prescribed by a recognized faith group. Normally, inmates practice to the same level as what is available and normal in the community.

Sacred space: a functional, hospitable and adaptable space, within the institution or on the institutional grounds, that is dedicated to the purpose of worship, celebration, meditation, prayer, reflection, study and other communal and individual spiritual observances for inmates of all and/or no religious or spiritual affiliation. Please note that this definition does not include Aboriginal Program Space and Aboriginal Sacred Grounds.

For more information

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