Response to the 47th Annual Report of the Correctional Investigator 2019-2020


Perhaps more so than at any time in Canadian history, the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) has responded swiftly and deftly to rapid societal change. In June 2019, the culmination of court rulings on administrative segregation and the coming in to force of legislated amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act prompted CSC to rise to the occasion and deliver transformative policy and practice without sacrificing service and program delivery.

CSC’s ability to manage through these extraordinary challenges is due to the hard work and dedication of its staff, volunteers, advisory committees, and community stakeholders. The Service is developing the necessary agility and resiliency that is required to meet the demands of the twenty-first century. From senior administration to front-line workers, the organization is undergoing a significant cultural shift that strengthens our resolve to deliver on our Mission Statement while supporting our core values.

In 2019-20, CSC reached an unprecedented milestone in the field of corrections when the Service abolished the practice of administrative segregation and replaced it with a new Structured Intervention Unit model that provides tailored care to offenders with complex needs. CSC has also continued to address the needs of federal inmates with gender considerations and is currently undertaking research to transform the management of vulnerable groups – including women, Indigenous, Black and aging offenders.

CSC continues to provide inmates with safe and healthy living conditions. As we have come to expect, 100% of health inspections in our facilities yielded positive results, and every CSC menu is now compliant with Canada’s food guide. Our Health Service professionals continue to deliver outstanding results. Of those with an identified mental health need at intake, 97% received a follow-up service; 88% of offenders with an HIV infection are now on treatment; and, 97% of those who completed HCV treatment achieved a sustained viral response.

CSC has also made significant progress towards our mission of actively contributing to rehabilitation and safe reintegration. In 2019, a comprehensive study of federal recidivism rates was published and reported an absolute reduction of 17.2% in reconvictions over time from 1996-97 to 2011-12. Also in 2019, CSC completed an evaluation of the Integrated Correctional Program Model (ICPM) in Canadian federal corrections. Analyses of ICPM effectiveness revealed that the men’s risk and need profiles were being properly identified upon admission to federal custody; that these men were being assigned to the appropriate intensity and stream; and, that program completers were more likely to be granted an early release and more importantly, less likely to return to federal custody. These correctional results are reflective in the noteworthy decline (-992 or 6.7%) in the federal custody population from 14,712 at year-end 2015-16 to 13,720 in 2019-2020 and substantial rise (+1,037 or 12.4%) on community supervision from 8,345 at year-end in 2015-16 to 9,382 in 2019-20. Though these are impressive results, CSC is always seeking out opportunities to learn and excel. The relationship between CSC and the Office of the Correctional Investigator (OCI) is a central component of the Service’s continuous self-reflection and improvement. Through collaborative exchanges with the OCI, we have been able to learn more about our business and develop improved means of delivering secure custody, rehabilitation, and safe reintegration of offenders back into the community.

Responses to Recommendations

  1. I recommend that the Minister of Public Safety establish an expert working group to guide implementation of the Office’s current and past recommendations on education and vocational training in federal corrections. This work should include timelines and clear deliverables.
  2. The Minister of Public Safety is committed to improving outcomes for federal offenders by enhancing opportunities that contribute to the rehabilitation of offenders and their successful reintegration into the community, while ensuring public safety. Increased education programming, enhanced employment skills training, and obtaining the skills to be gainfully employed are several key contributors to successful reintegration that help prepare people who have served a sentence in a federal correctional institution for the best possible transition to the community.

    The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) has, and continues to be, committed to carefully reviewing and considering all recommendations made by external and internal partners and stakeholders to improve vocational training and education for those in federal correctional facilities. There are currently a number of initiatives planned to be implemented, evaluated and reported on in progress, and therefore an expert working group, as recommended by the Correctional Investigator, will not be introduced at this time but could be considered at a later date once these current initiatives have been implemented and evaluated. The Commissioner, who receives regular updates to ensure that she is advised of all pertinent developments on timelines and deliverables related to CSC’s educational and employment programs in federal facilities, will provide an update to the Minister of Public Safety on progress in June 2021.

    CSC has committed to modernizing the education program to complement offenders’ participation in correctional and employability programs by increasing their level of education, comprehension and critical thinking skills to optimize the impact of the interventions. A critical element of modern education is that of digital literacy, and the Minister is committed to overseeing that initiatives that develop this skill are being implemented by CSC. As an example, CSC will be implementing the Digital Education pilot project at Bath Institution by the end of this fiscal year. This digital Learning Management System will enable offenders to obtain specific high school credits through restricted internet connectivity to approved sites via a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Upon the review of this pilot project, CSC will explore opportunities to further expand this offering to include other online educational and training activities for offenders .

    While work continues to explore opportunities to expand online learning and training opportunities, it should be noted that there have been ongoing challenges for CSC in implementing information management projects due to the significant age and condition of CSC’s informatics infrastructure. There is a need to ensure that the necessary security measures are in place to enable technology to be made available in federal correctional facilities. Development and implementation of initiatives are also dependent on resource availability.

    CSC has developed and implemented comprehensive programs, intervention, educational and employment strategies so that offenders can acquire the tools and skills they need to safely transition into the community as productive members. Some examples include the relaunch of CSC’s farm employment programs at Collins Bay and Joyceville institutions. Across the country, both institutional and community employment initiatives have been enhanced for women offenders to meet their employment needs, such as opportunities to enroll in construction-related employment programs at all six women offender sites. CSC has also provided vocational and on-the-job training through transitional employment to men, women, Indigenous offenders, and offenders with mental health needs who were not able to find regular community employment and required additional training and support to achieve that goal as soon as possible. Furthermore, CSC continues to work with Indigenous communities and partners at the national, regional and local levels to respond to the needs of Indigenous offenders. The Indigenous Offender Employment Initiative continues to be implemented in the Prairie, Ontario, and Pacific regions, building on successes since its implementation in 2017.

    Implementing modern education and employment training opportunities at various institutions that support evolving employment trends are examples of the work that CSC undertakes as part of its mandate to prepare offenders for release . This work is a priority for the Minister and he is committed to overseeing that these successes are implemented at the national-level.

  3. I recommend that the Minister of Public Safety introduce, in the next year, a legislative package that endorses a zero-tolerance approach to sexual violence in federal corrections and establishes a public reporting mechanism for preventing, tracking and responding to these incidents, similar to the Prison Rape Elimination Act in the United States.
  4. The Minister of Public Safety would like to jointly respond to recommendations #2 and #9 from the Correctional Investigator’s Annual Report, as these two recommendations can assist in informing a strategy on tackling sexual coercion and violence (SCV) in federal corrections. A zero-tolerance approach to SCV is consistent with CSC’s policy and is fundamental to its operations to protect the physical and mental health and overall safety of those who live and work within federal correctional institutions.

    Given the importance of gaining a better understanding of SCV in the Canadian context, Public Safety has developed a research plan, slated to begin in Fall 2020, to begin assessing SCV in federal corrections. In collaboration with CSC, Public Safety will collect information and data on the size, scope and impact of this issue, with consideration of vulnerable populations such as inmates with prior trauma, LGBTQ2+, women, and those with mental health issues in order to identify gaps in knowledge. An interim report on the work undertaken is set to be developed by Spring 2021 and will help inform future actions required to detect, prevent, and respond to sexual violence in correctional institutions. In leading this research, Public Safety will collaborate with CSC, and others as needed, to ensure coordination with other actions being undertaken by CSC on the issue as outlined in responses to other recommendations in this report.

    In addition, given the serious nature of the issue, Minister has agreed to write to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security requesting that consideration be given to undertaking an independent study, along with a report on their findings, on SCV in federal corrections

    Both internal and external research findings will assist Public Safety and CSC to determine the next steps in effectively and appropriately addressing SCV.

  5. I recommend that the Minister of Public Safety jointly with the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada strike an expert Committee to deliberate on the ethical and practical matters of providing MAiD in all places of detention, with the aim of proposing changes to existing policy and legislation. This deliberation should consider the issues brought to light by my Office, as well as the latest literature emerging from Canadian prison law and ethics. In the meantime, and until the Committee reports, I recommend an absolute moratorium on providing MAiD inside a federal penitentiary, regardless of circumstance.
  6. Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) is a complex and deeply personal issue for all Canadians. The increased complexity of providing access to MAiD in a federal correctional setting underscores the need to ensure a robust and compassionate process is in place to support offenders with grievous and irremediable medical conditions who may wish to access MAiD services to end their lives in dignity.  The Minister is mindful of the fact that the Department of Justice has recently reviewed the federal MAiD legislation, in consultation with Canadians, experts, practitioners, stakeholders, Indigenous groups, as well as provinces and territories. CSC is solely responsible for any matters related to the implementation of the MAiD legislation in federal penitentiaries, and CSC and the PBC share responsibility for various release options.

    CSC’s MAiD guidelines require than an external Physician or Nurse Practitioner (external assessor) perform an eligibility assessment, and that the MAiD procedure be completed external to CSC, namely, in a community hospital or health care facility, other than in exceptional circumstances. These exceptional circumstances must be at the request of the inmate, and a Treatment Centre or a Regional Hospital may be used, provided approval has been received from the Assistant Commissioner, Health Services, and the procedure is conducted by a health professional external to CSC. Of the MAiD procedures carried out since the implementation of the legislation, 3 out of 4 have taken place external to CSC facilities, by medical professionals outside of CSC . 

    The MAiD process as currently set out in CSC policy is comprehensive and contains numerous safeguards to ensure that inmates are provided full legal protection. However, the Minister agrees that further and ongoing analysis of the medical ethics of MAiD in correctional settings could be beneficial. The Minister has therefore requested that the Department, along with CSC and the PBC, in collaboration with the Department of Justice, engage with key stakeholders and experts with a view to making recommendations on any policy changes. Understanding that MAiD in Canada is continuing to evolve, the Minister commits to conducting this review by the end of 2021 to better understand and address any outstanding issues.

  7. I recommend that the replacement fleet of CSC escort vehicles be equipped with appropriate safety equipment for inmate passengers, including hand holds and seatbelts, and that any prototype vehicle be inspected by Transport Canada authorities before being put into production and service.
  8. The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is committed to replacing its fleet of security escort vehicles to reflect recent industry advancements in their design and configuration, while ensuring the safety and security of the public, staff, and offenders. 

    A new Ford Transit T80R prototype, which includes an insert for up to four offenders and space for five Correctional Officers, has been developed and presented to CSC, UCCO-SACC-CSN, and the Office of the Correctional Investigator (OCI), in September 2019. Following the prototype review, CSC is currently exploring with Ford and Farmbro further features, such as an L-shaped bench in both sides of the insert, allowing taller offenders to extend their legs along the length of the insert, and the extension of the length of the security insert.

    The initial indications are that the insert could be modified to include these features. Options for seat belts and hand holds are also under review. Finally, it should be noted that our suppliers must ensure that the vehicles they provide meet the National Safety Standards established by Transport Canada.

  9. I recommend that CSC review independent Patient Advocate models in place in Canada and internationally, develop a framework for federal corrections and report publicly on its intentions in 2020-21 with full implementation of an external Patient Advocate system in 2021-22.
  10. CSC provides offenders with access to patient advocacy in accordance with the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA). CSC policy requires that, consistent with the requirements of their professional health regulatory colleges, healthcare professionals, including those providing services under contract, will use their expertise and influence to advocate on behalf of patients for provision of care that advances their health and well-being. CSC also facilitates access to provincially appointed patient advocates for offenders certified under provincial mental health legislation and actively encourages the engagement of these independent bodies. Furthermore, CSC remains committed to supporting the work of inmate advocates from non-governmental agencies, such as the John Howard Society, the Native Women's Association of Canada and Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies.

    In line with the C-83 approved funding, CSC will establish an implementation plan by end of fiscal year 2022-23, with the goal of full implementation of the revised model by end of fiscal year 2023-24.  Since the coming into force of C-83, CSC has provided educational sessions to Health Services management to support their roles in facilitating the provision of patient-centered care.  This was further supported by a practice reminder for front-line health care staff on the provision of person-centered care.  As well, ongoing discussions occur at all levels in the organization regarding the provision of quality care.

    CSC recognizes the essential role of patient advocacy in the provision of health services, and intends to develop a patient advocacy framework for federal corrections. The first step towards this initiative is to review independent Patient Advocate models in place in Canada and internationally.

  11. I recommend that CSC issue immediate instruction prohibiting the use of stun grenades in closed or confined spaces, including cells.
  12. The use of distraction devices (also known as stun grenades) is a common tool used within correctional and police communities in the management of incidents by creating a tactical advantage.  Distraction devices are an approved tool within CSC for use by Emergency Response Teams.  It is an effective tool, which allows for a swift intervention in high risk situations where the management strategies identifies the need to quickly gain control of the situation.  Within a confined space, including cells, distraction devices serve to support offensive tactical maneuvers by facilitating a sense of distraction in the subject.  Situational factors, such as an inmate armed with a weapon or a hostage situation, elevate the level of risk such that a distraction device is a reasonable tool as part of a room entry and intervention.

    It is acknowledged that distraction devices have the potential to harm, and it is for this reason that their use is restricted to Emergency Response Teams who receive specialized training, include training in the use of distraction devices. This training addresses the precautions required related to hazards, such as flammability and noise.

    In terms of the heat generated and the flammability of materials in the immediate area, CSC tested the OC spray product that was used in the incident referenced within this Annual Report, and the results indicated that this specific OC formulation type is indeed flammable.  A Communiqué was sent immediately to advise sites of this hazard. Additionally, CSC is in the process of reviewing other OC product types for use when distraction devices are required.  Procedures continue to prescribe that a fire extinguisher must be brought on scene for precautionary purposes.

    That said, a review of CSC training on distraction devices identified areas that could be enhanced to better prepare staff in assessing the need for this equipment to further mitigate risk based on situational factors and areas related to strategic deployment. CSC will undertake these training revisions by the end of fiscal year 2020-21.

  13. I recommend that dry cell placements exceeding 72 hours be explicitly prohibited in federal corrections.
  14. It is expected that, at all times, institutions limit dry cell placements to what is reasonably required and for the shortest possible time. In understanding that conditions of confinement may be limited during the time of placement, there is continuous monitoring of the inmate by correctional staff, the Institutional Head and Health Care staff. The inmate is always to be provided with adequate bedding, food, clothing, and toiletry articles. CSC provides reasonable access to medical, spiritual, and psychological assistance, and a medical professional visits the inmate daily. Activities are permitted; however, not if they compromise contraband recovery. Institutional Standing Orders address requirements specific to activities and security related procedures. Dry cell placements exceeding 72 hours cannot be explicitly prohibited as it is more than feasible to delay bowel movement beyond 72 hours and, as documented in several medical literature, some individuals do not experience bowel movements more than once (168 hours) or twice (80-90 hours) a week. This is why the latest legislative changes do not impose a limit of time but rather imposes medical oversight.

    Over the years, CSC has made a number of enhancements to dry cell requirements. The June 2012 update to the policy framework (Commissioner’s Directive 566-7 - Searching of Inmates) introduced national requirements for dry cell placements, which included enhanced oversight and monitoring. Procedural safeguards outlined in policy require that the Institutional Head review the placement on a daily basis. To allow for oversight by someone other than the Institutional Head, the Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Correctional Operations at Regional Headquarters is notified of any placement exceeding 72 hours. Moving forward, CSC will consider additional safeguards and oversight measures relevant to the use of dry cells.

  15. I recommend that the Service develop a separate and specific Commissioner’s Directive for incidents of sexual coercion and violence involving federal inmates, that describes in detail how all staff should respond when allegations of a sexual assault are made, or an incident is suspected of having occurred. This policy suite should also detail mechanisms for detecting, tracking, reporting, investigating and preventing such incidents. CSC should look to other jurisdictions who have developed comprehensive approaches to policy and practice (e.g., PREA) as it relates to sexual assaults involving incarcerated persons. 
  16. CSC would like to respond to recommendations 8, 10, 11 and 12 jointly as they all relate to sexual coercion and violence involving federal offenders. The Service takes this issue very seriously. In order to ensure a safe and secure environment for all offenders in its care and custody, numerous measures have been put in place to ensure such acts are dealt with swiftly. To this end, CSC has mandated a Board of Inquiry (BOI) to investigate such incidents and is taking steps to ensure it better identifies, investigates and responds to these acts of violence. As such, out of 24 BOI reports related to such incidents, 19 recommendations were made, 14 were supported with actions taken and 2 are still in consultation.

    In order to continue enhancing its approach, CSC will facilitate Public Safety’s efforts to assess what is currently known about SCV in federal corrections and collect information and data on the size, scope and impact of this issue in order to identify gaps in data and knowledge. This knowledge will help forge CSC’s approach.

    Moving forward, CSC will engage other correctional organizations in a collaborative effort with the International Corrections and Prison Association (ICPA) – whose mission is to promote and share ethical and effective correctional practices to enhance public safety and healthier communities worldwide. This collaboration will identify best practices in effectively preventing and responding to sexual assaults involving incarcerated persons. This work will further inform CSC’s comprehensive approach in this area and strengthen its ability to mitigate risks and keep all offenders and staff safe.

    Additionally, as part of the Correctional Training Program (CTP) delivered to recruits coming from all across the country, included in existing training on ‘Prison Sub-culture’ is the awareness brought with regards to the institutional economy, including an overview of how some offenders will sell sexual services to other offenders in return for protection, drugs, or acceptance.

    Finally, it should be noted that CSC’s Offender Management System (OMS) already allows for the use of an alert to identify offenders that are vulnerable/other or are predatory (i.e. may exploit staff members or offenders). The Service closely monitors those individuals with an alert for vulnerable or predatory behaviour, which also inform its population management strategies.

  17. I recommend the Minister of Public Safety directs that CSC designate funds for a national prevalence study of sexual coercion and violence involving inmates in federal corrections. The survey should be developed, conducted, and the results publicly reported on, by external, fully independent experts, with the experience and capacity to conduct research on this topic in a correctional setting.
  18. See response to recommendation #2.

  19. I recommend that the Service develop an evidence-based strategy for the prevention of sexual coercion and violence involving individuals who are incarcerated, with specific attention to individuals or groups who are known to be at a heightened risk of victimization.
  20. See response to recommendation #8.

  21. I recommend that, in the interest of staff and inmate safety, CSC develop a specific flag in OMS for perpetrators of institutional SCV and use this to inform population management strategies in order to mitigate potential risks and to keep vulnerable individuals (inmates and staff alike) safe.
  22. See response to recommendation #8.

  23. I recommend that CSC develop and offer education, awareness, and training programs for all staff and inmates on sexual coercion and violence. Specific training on SCV should be provided to staff by certified experts in the field of prison sexual violence. Awareness programming on sexual violence should be provided to inmates upon admission to federal corrections.
  24. See response to recommendation #8.

  25. I recommend that CSC conduct an external review of its Therapeutic Range resourcing model, and to ensure that bed capacity and staffing reflects the actual needs of Mental Health Services. This review should also consider the following improvements:
    1. A therapeutic look and feel that incorporates more open spaces and yards with access to fresh air, shelter, and recreation; a dedicated programming space for both individual and group counselling; and easy and private access to health care facilities. Therapeutic Ranges should be placed away from the direct view of other inmates who are not residing on this range.
    2. Greater reliance on dynamic security practices. This can be in part accomplished by implementing the Therapeutic Unit Officer Pilot Program at all Therapeutic Range Sites.
    3. Dedicated complement of correctional and mental health staff, and access to Elders and Indigenous Services staff, commensurate with demand for these services on the Therapeutic Range.
    4. Elimination of beds that employ the Pinel restraint system, i.e., “Pinel beds” from Therapeutic Ranges.
    5. Allows for cascading to lower levels of security within the unit, minimizing transfers where possible and appropriate.

    CSC, in consultation with external experts and led by its National Senior Psychiatrist, will conduct a thorough review of Therapeutic Ranges by the end of 2022. The purpose of the review will be to ensure that a therapeutic environment has been implemented and that opportunities for treatment interventions and work with Elders and Indigenous services staff are maximized. This review will also consider recommendations put forward in an external review completed for CSC on the integration of traditional and Western healing and options for implementation on Therapeutic Ranges. Infrastructure and staffing requirements to support a therapeutic environment will also be examined to inform future planning, including optimal placement for observation cells and Pinel Restraint System beds.

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