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Results of the 1996 CSC Staff Survey: A Synopsis

1996 No B-17

David Robinson, Pam Lefaive, Mike Muirhead

Research Branch
Correctional Service of Canada

March 1997

Table of Content



Survey Results


List of Tables

List of Figures



The second national CSC staff survey was conducted in late November and early December 1996. Following the success of the first national survey in 1994, the 1996 exercise was the second in a biennial cycle of staff surveys which the Service hopes to conduct on an ongoing basis. The survey covered a broad scope of issues of interest to both managers and staff. The survey was designed to take a reading of the general mood of employees, the health of CSC as a government organization with respect to the management of staff issues, and as a method of detecting staff problems and identifying solutions for improving the organization in the future.

The decision to conduct the survey reflects Core Value 3 of the CSC Mission which states that "… our strength and our major resource in achieving our objectives is our staff …". The survey plan was based on the premise that a healthy organization must seek the opinions of its staff on important issues surrounding its day-to-day operations. Following a careful examination of the results by senior managers, the intention is to use the information provided by staff to develop action plans for addressing staff issues at both national and local levels.

This document provides a synopsis of the findings which have been presented in a much lengthier 2-volume report fully documenting the results of the 1996 staff survey. The larger report provides a breakdown of results by region, occupational grouping and individual worksite for 44 composite scales which cover 18 themes. The final report compares the 1994 and 1996 survey results and includes an appendix of results for each survey questionnaire item broken down by region and occupational grouping. Customized appendices containing the questionnaire results for each of 78 CSC worksites are also available along with a series of worksite profiles that provide graphical display of the results in a comparative format.

The current report provides a national picture of the major findings of the 1996 survey. In an effort to examine changes that have occurred over time, the 1994 results are also referenced in this synopsis. Where particular findings are of interest, breakdowns of results are also given for regional, occupational, or worksite categories (e.g. minimum, medium, maximum, district parole, headquarters sites).

This synopsis provides only a brief glance at national results of the 1996 staff survey. Much more detail is available through the final report and appendix. In addition, like the 1994 survey, the database on which the current report is based provides a rich source of information on a variety of staff issues. The database allows for the exploration of relationships between various factors measured in the survey (e.g., staff tenure and attitudes toward specific issues) at national, regional and individual worksite levels.


Questionnaire Design

The majority of questions employed in 1994 were repeated in 1996. In order to gauge change in the two-year intervening period, all 27 of the original composite scales were included in 1996. An additional 16 scales and more than 60 new questions were added to the questionnaire to assess new issues which the Service was facing in 1996. [A copy of the 1996 questionnaire is included with the final report of the survey prepared by Coopers and Lybrand Consulting and available from the Research Branch, Correctional Service Canada.]

The questionnaire was drafted by a working group consisting of subject area experts from National Headquarters, a national survey team from the Research Branch, and representatives from the two major unions representing CSC employees, the Union of Solicitor General Employees (USGE) and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC). At the final stages of drafting the questionnaire, the working group was joined by representatives from each region who coordinated regional input on the draft questionnaire.


The sampling design for the 1996 survey differed from the "All Staff Survey" conducted in 1994 in which all CSC indeterminate employees were asked to complete a questionnaire. In 1996, a random sample of staff was selected to complete the questionnaire. This approach borrowed from the U. S. Federal Bureau of Prisons’ success in using a random sample to conduct their annual Social Climate Survey of staff. The sampling approach offered greater opportunities for site coordinators to bolster the response rate of the survey. It was believed that by randomly selecting respondents and inviting them to complete questionnaires, staff would be more likely to participate and site coordinators could intervene to encourage initial non-responders to reconsider.

The random selection procedure was entirely administered by Coopers and Lybrand Consulting, the firm contracted by CSC to assist with the conduct of the survey. Respondents were randomly selected from a list of employees provided by CSC. The sample was designed so that a minimum number of respondents would be selected to optimize the confidence placed in the results for each worksite. Worksites included institutions, district parole offices, and national and regional headquarters. The sample size for each worksite was calculated to provide a minimum confidence interval of plus/minus 5 percentage points, 95 times out of 100 (i.e., 95% confidence interval). The sample design led to lower sampling proportions for the larger worksites (e.g., large institutions) and oversampling of smaller CSC worksites (e.g., district parole offices) in order to increase the confidence placed in the results for these sites.

The 1996 response rate exceeded the rate obtained in 1994. In total, 7,157 staff were randomly selected to participate and 4,961 of this number completed a questionnaire. This represents a national response rate of 69% - a substantial increase over the response rate of 61% achieved in 1994. Regional and occupational breakdowns of response rates are presented in Table 1 and 2. All occupational groups and all regions increased their survey response rates in 1996.

Table 1: Response Rates by Region

Region Selected Sample Number of Completions Response Rate
Atlantic 734 536 73%
Quebec 1,916 1,438 75%
Ontario 1,673 886 53%
Prairies 1,533 1,212 79%
Pacific 1,081 738 68%
NHQ 220 151 69%
Total 7,157 4,961 69%

Table 2: Response Rates by Occupational Group

Job Type Sample Selected Number of Completions Response Rate
CO - Correctional Officers 2,815 1,376 49%
CMO - Case Management Officers 666 523 79%
HCP - Health Care/Psychology 400 253 63%
MAO - Miscellaneous Admin. Officers 668 561 84%
AS - Administrative Support 881 651 74%
LTC - Labour, Trades, CORCAN 577 386 67%
CP - Correctional Programs 481 314 65%
CSM - Correctional Supervisors/ Unit Managers 329 237 72%
MGR - Managers (AS-06 and above) 290 430 NA2

[ 2 Owing to coding conventions in the CSC employee database, the number of managers was under-estimated for the purpose of this survey. Therefore, the sampling design failed to include a sufficient number of employees in the management category. However, a number of staff identified themselves as managers at or above the AS-06 level in completing their questionnaires.]

Administration Procedure

Following distribution of the questionnaires to each worksite by Coopers and Lybrand, survey coordinators at each site made questionnaires available to each staff member who had been randomly selected. All worksite managers were instructed to give staff the necessary time required to complete the questionnaire during working hours. Most sites chose to administer the questionnaire in groups which were scheduled in advance. After completing the survey, participants sealed their questionnaires in envelopes marked confidential which were provided by Coopers and Lybrand. Respondents had the option of returning the questionnaire to the site coordinator to be mailed in batches, or mail the questionnaire directly to Coopers and Lybrand in the self-addressed stamped envelopes.

Compilation of Results

After questionnaires had been received by Coopers and Lybrand, the survey data were entered into electronic files for analysis. The contractor employed a questionnaire that was scanable by computer so that all questionnaires were read electronically. The contractor then conducted the necessary analyses specified by CSC and presented the results in a 2-volume report.

Composite Scales

A series of composite scales, 27 from the 1994 survey and 16 new scales introduced in 1996, were used to summarize the findings of the survey. Each composite scale combined several questionnaire items related to specific issues (e.g., job satisfaction). The scales provide an average score for the series of items in question. The majority of the composite scales are reported as the percentage of survey respondents who, on average, responded favorably to the questionnaire items used to form the scales.

Characteristics of Respondents

Thirty-seven percent of staff who participated in the survey were female and one-third (33%) were Francophone. The average age of the respondents was 42 years. About 1 in 5 respondents (21%) had been employed in the Service for more than 20 years, while 1 in 5 (19%) had been employed for less than 5 years. At the same time, about 39% of staff indicated that they had been working in their current CSC worksite for less than 5 years. Twenty percent of the respondents had university degrees while 18% were college graduates. About one-third (32%) of staff with post-secondary training had specialized in a criminal justice related field.

Survey Results

Unit Management and Case Management

There was an increase in positive perceptions about unit management effectiveness from 1994 to 1996. Forty-three percent of institutional staff believed that unit management was effective compared to 39% 2 years earlier. There was also an increase in the proportion of staff who attributed career benefits to unit management - 42% in 1996 and 36% in 1994. A more substantial positive increase was evident in views about case management effectiveness. In 1994 only 38% reported that the case management process was effective while 50% reported positively in 1996. For both unit management and case management effectiveness, case management officers were more positive than correctional officers by a significant margin.

Opinions about Offenders and Offender Programming

Three measures of attitudes toward offenders were employed in the staff survey: support for rehabilitation, empathy towards offenders, and support for a punitive correctional environment. Support for rehabilitation declined slightly from 70% in 1994 to 67% in 1996. A minor decrease, from 43% in 1994 to 41% in 1996 was also registered for offender empathy. The decreases in support for rehabilitation were more marked in the Quebec and Ontario regions, while the greatest decline in empathy for offenders was exhibited in the Atlantic region. Support for a punitive correctional environment remained unchanged over the two year period between the surveys (50%).

Figure 1 shows results concerning support for rehabilitation by type of worksite. The figure shows clearly that staff from district parole offices and headquarters sites were overwhelmingly supportive of rehabilitation. Nine out of 10 of all staff who worked in community operations were supportive of rehabilitation. Figure 2 shows the figures by occupational group. Of the nine occupational groups for which results were presented, correctional officers were the least positive in their attitudes toward offenders (53%). Case management officers, correctional programs, health care and psychology, and managers (AS-06 and above) displayed the most supportive attitudes, with more than 80% of each of these groups endorsing rehabilitation. Generally, the pattern of occupational differences observed for support for rehabilitation also applied to scores on the empathy for offenders and punitiveness scales.

Despite the relative decline in support for rehabilitation in a global sense, many staff expressed an interest in participating in offender programming. The proportion showing an interest in participating in offender programs increased from 65% in 1994 to 76% in 1996. Ninety-eight percent of case management officers expressed this view compared to 74% of correctional officers.

Figure 1: Support for Rehabilitation by Worksite Type

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Figure 2: Support for Rehabilitation by Job Type

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CO - Correctional Officers MAO - Miscellaneous Administrative Officers CP - Correctional Programs
CMO - Case Management Officers AS - Administrative Support CSM - Correctional Supervisors Managers
HCP - Health


LTC - Labour, Trades, CORCAN MGR - Managers

Work Environment

The work environment section of the questionnaire consisted of a variety of scales that are typically used in surveys of work organizations (e.g., job satisfaction, communication, empowerment, supervision, stress, equitable promotions, job security, etc.). The 1994 survey results suggested that CSC staff were similar in their views about such organizational domains as employees in other government departments, correctional jurisdictions, and private sector organizations. With few exceptions there were no major differences in ratings on the work environment scales from 1994 to 1996. However, CSC staff were slightly more positive on some of the work environment indices in 1996.

Figure 3 shows the survey results by job type for the job satisfaction scale. Overall, 73% of staff expressed satisfaction in their CSC jobs. The percentage increased slightly from the rate for the previous survey (72%). Staff in the correctional programs occupational category exhibited the highest level of job satisfaction while correctional officers expressed the least satisfaction. Nevertheless, job satisfaction appeared to increase for correctional officers during the two-year intervening period between the 1994 and 1996 survey. Managers displayed the greatest satisfaction (85%), yet they also showed a measurable decline in satisfaction since 1994.

Figure 3: Job Satisfaction by Job Type

Undisplayed Graphic

CO - Correctional Officers MAO - Miscellaneous Administrative Officers CP - Correctional Programs
CMO - Case Management Officers AS - Administrative Support CSM - Correctional Supervisors Managers
HCP - Health


LTC - Labour, Trades, CORCAN MGR - Managers

The national results for other scales in the work environment section are displayed in Figure 4. The majority of staff replied positively when asked for their opinions about the quality of supervision they received and the extent to which CSC demonstrated fair treatment toward employees (e.g., fair treatment without respect to race, language, disability, etc.). Slightly less than half of staff expressed concerns about experiencing stress as a result of their work. There was also a modest decline in the level of stress reported by CSC employees in 1996. However, the majority of staff did not report positively on organizational communication, empowerment, recognition of staff by the organization, employment security, and the level of staff services provided by CSC (e.g., fitness facilities, access to health programs). Staff continued to be skeptical about equity in promotions with only 18% of staff reporting positively on this dimension in 1996. In fact there was an observable decrease in the number of staff who felt that promotions were given on equitable grounds (21% in 1994). The decline was particularly marked for employees at NHQ and those in the management category (AS-06 and above).

Figure 4: Work Environment Scales (% Positive) [All scales refer to the % of staff who responded favorably except for the Work Stress scale which refers to the % of staff who reported that they experienced job stress.]

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Casual Employment

About 54% of staff indicated that casual employees are sometimes employed to perform duties within their job classifications. However, most CSC staff did not see any benefits of casual employment in terms of greater access to annual leave, training, or improved shift rotation for permanent employees. At the same time, most staff did not feel that the use of casuals reduced their opportunities for acting assignments, promotions, or developmental assignments. However, more than two-thirds (64%) indicated that the use of casuals reduced the amount of overtime they worked. Generally, CSC staff were not positive about the use of casual employees - only 38% of staff believed that casual employees were committed to performing more than the minimum requirements of their jobs and only 38% believed that casuals received adequate training.

Policy, Rules and Regulations

This section was introduced in 1996 to assess the extent to which staff felt that they were performing their duties in accordance with legal requirements and whether they had access to the necessary training and information to do so. A series of scales were developed to evaluate the application of a given policy or set of policies (e.g., CCRA) according to the following criteria: understanding; knowledge of detail; training; accessibility of information; and frequency of application. As shown in Table 3, staff were generally positive about their knowledge and understanding of the various categories of policy. However, a minority of staff were satisfied with the training they had in the various policies and even fewer felt they had good access to the information they required to carry out policy.

Generally, less than half of staff reported that they often or always applied the policies in order to carry out the duties of their jobs. Staff reported more frequent application of Commissioner’s Directives and Post Orders. There was considerable variation in responses across occupational groupings. For example, 93.5% of case management officers and 85.3% of correctional supervisors reported that they often or always applied CCRA policies as they applied to the conduct of their duties. In contrast, only 32.2% of correctional officers claim to act in this manner with respect to the application of the CCRA. Case management officers expressed more understanding of the principles of the various categories of policy and were also more knowledgeable about the specific details of policies that applied to their work.

Table 3: Application of Policy, Rules, Regulations

Policy Category % Poor % Fair % Good/ Excellent

Understanding 18.9 33.2 47.2
Knowledge of specific details 25.3 32.6 42.2
Training 50.9 27.3 20.5
Accessibility of Information 35.9 49.2 15.0
Frequency of Application [For Frequency of Application the response categories are "Never/Rarely" instead of Poor; "Sometimes" instead of Fair; and "Often/Always" instead of Good/Excellent.] 34.8 22.8 44.4
Commissioner’s Directives

Understanding 10.3 32.8 56.9
Knowledge of specific details 15.9 34.4 49.7
Training 45.3 33.5 21.1
Accessibility of Information 43.6 47.2 9.2
Frequency of Application 20.3 28.8 50.9
Regional Instructions

Understanding 14.2 34.7 51.1
Knowledge of specific details 19.4 35.4 45.2
Training 46.7 33.3 20.0
Accessibility of Information 37.1 49.5 13.4
Frequency of Application 26.0 30.5 43.4
Standing Orders

Understanding 7.5 21.8 70.8
Knowledge of specific details 10.1 24.4 65.5
Training 33.8 33.6 32.6
Accessibility of Information 50.8 42.3 6.9
Frequency of Application 13.5 22.4 34.1
Post Orders

Understanding 9.9 18.3 71.8
Knowledge of specific details 11.3 19.8 68.9
Training 31.2 30.6 38.3
Accessibility of Information 55.1 38.3 6.6
Frequency of Application 16.8 16.1 67.2

Figure 5 reports on staff impressions about the level of attention CSC management pays to the application of policy in general. Overall, ninety percent of CSC staff gave a positive assessment of CSC’s management orientation with respect to emphasizing adherence to policy. It is noteworthy that staff from the community operations expressed the greatest degree of confidence that managers demonstrated enough emphasis on following the law. NHQ and RHQ employees reported similar levels of agreement about management’s policy orientation.

Figure 5: Management Policy Orientation - % Positive by Worksite Type

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Shift Work

Fifty-seven percent of CSC staff indicated that they worked shifts. Shift work was concentrated in the correctional officer, health care, correctional supervisor/unit management and labour/trades job categories. Only 27% of staff said that their shift schedules had no negative impact on their relations with family. Nineteen percent reported that shift work resulted in very negative consequences for their family life and 54% said that it had a somewhat negative impact. In comparison to the earlier survey, it appeared that staff perceived more negative consequences of shiftwork in 1996. In 1994, 68% of shiftworkers reported very or somewhat negative consequences for family life, while 81% reported negative consequences in 1996. Among the occupational groups with higher concentrations of shift workers, correctional officers reported the most negative consequences for their families, followed by correctional supervisors/unit managers, health care staff, and members of the labour/trades category. Shift workers also reported very negative or somewhat negative impacts of shiftwork on relations with friends (75%) and other non-work
activities (77%).


Both the 1994 and 1996 surveys included lengthy sections devoted to describing staff experiences and opinions regarding the issue of harassment in the workplace. In 1996 there was a notable decrease in the number of staff who perceived that harassment was a frequent occurrence in CSC workplaces and there was an increase in the confidence staff placed in the ability of the organization to address harassment. The regional breakdown of perceptions that harassment "often" occurs in the workplace is shown in Figure 6. There appears to be a decrease in the level of harassment in each region. In 1994 47% of staff believed that CSC’s response to harassment was adequate. The figure increased to 51% in 1996. There was also a slight decline in ratings of the seriousness of harassment experienced in CSC worksite.

Figure 6: Frequency of Harassment % Often by Region Type

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Career Development

An overall rating of satisfaction with career management included ratings of the extent to which career management information was available, the quality of personal development plans, and level of supervisor involvement in career management. Over the two-year period between surveys, CSC staff increased their overall satisfaction with career management from 49% in 1994 to 57% in 1996. However, there was a decline from 64% in 1994 to 58% in 1996 in the proportion of staff who were satisfied with the performance appraisal process. As Figure 7 demonstrates, the decrease occurred across all regions with the largest drop in satisfaction associated with staff who were employed at NHQ. Two new scales were added to the career development section in 1996 - satisfaction with the employment competition process and perceptions about CSC’s support for personal development on the job. Nationally, only 29% of staff felt satisfied with the competition process, while 45% indicated that CSC was supportive of personal development of staff on-the-job.

Figure 7: Satisfaction with Performance Appraisals - % Favorable by Region Type

Undisplayed Graphic

Attitudes Towards CSC

Organizational commitment remained relatively strong with an increase from 61% to 65% of staff who felt loyal and proud to be a CSC employee. There was also strong support for CSC’s objectives. About 63% of staff said that CSC’s corporate objectives accurately describe what the priorities of the organization should be. Seventy percent of staff expressed agreement with the Mission in both 1994 and 1996. Figure 8 shows Support for the Mission by occupational group. While there was variation by occupational group, support for the Mission exceeded 85% for five of the nine occupational groups. Agreement with the Mission was highest among managers (AS-06 and above; 90%) and lowest among correctional officers (51%) in both 1994 and 1996. The management group (AS-06 and above) was the only job category to show a notable decline in support for the Mission during the two year period (94% to 90%).

The 1996 survey included new sections aimed at assessing staff views about CSC’s public image and the extent to which the Service needed to be more accountable to the public. Across the nine occupational groups, there was a high degree of consensus that CSC’s public image was poor (74%). About 78% of staff believed that the public has unrealistic expectations about the ability of CSC to change the behaviour of offenders. At the same time the majority of CSC staff (76%) agreed with statements concerning the need for CSC to be more accountable to the public. Correctional officers and the labour/trades/ CORCAN group were particularly strong in their views concerning the need for CSC accountability (86% and 81% respectively).

Figure 8: Support for CSC Mission

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CO - Correctional Officers MAO - Miscellaneous Administrative Officers CP - Correctional Programs
CMO - Case Management Officers AS - Administrative Support CSM - Correctional Supervisors Managers
HCP - Health


LTC - Labour, Trades, CORCAN MGR - Managers

Occupational Safety and Health

Staff were asked to assess the quality of the work environment in terms of air, heating, lighting and ergonomic factors. Overall, 53% of staff had average ratings within the favorable range for these environmental elements in the 1996 survey. This compares with the 54% figure obtained in 1994. The proportion of staff who rated CSC’s promotion of occupational health and safety favorably was also comparable - 57% in 1994 and 56% in 1996. There appears to be increasing support for limitations on smoking in institutional settings. In 1994, 44% of staff supported CSC’s non-smoking policy while in 1996 the figure had grown to 49%. Finally, there was a slight improvement evident in the perceptions of personal safety and security on the job, as shown in Figure 9. In 1994 42% of staff rated their personal safety and security on the job as favorable and in 1996 the figure was 46%. While correctional officers were the least positive, they made the largest increase in favorable perceptions - 19% in 1994 and 24% in 1996.

Figure 9: Perceptions of Personal Security - % Favorable by Job Type

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CO - Correctional Officers MAO - Miscellaneous Administrative Officers CP - Correctional Programs
CMO - Case Management Officers AS - Administrative Support CSM - Correctional Supervisors Managers
HCP - Health


LTC - Labour, Trades, CORCAN MGR - Managers

Offender Drug Strategy

Staff expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of efforts made to reduce the level of drug use by offenders in institutional settings. Only 31% rated the offender drug strategy as successful. While 64% of managers (AS-06 and above) believed that the drug strategy was successful, only 21% of correctional officers shared this view. Overall, 47% of staff believed that urinalysis helped decrease inside drug use and 38% felt that substance abuse programming was successful in reducing drug use. Despite the relatively low success rate attributed to urinalysis, 79% believed that a program of urinalysis should be officially implemented in community settings.


Close to two-thirds of staff (65%) rated the use of volunteers by CSC as favorable. Only half (52%) of all correctional officers shared this view while correctional programs staff and managers were overwhelmingly positive in their views of volunteers (86% and 85% respectively). However, only 39% reported that their operational units make good use of volunteers and 45% said that more volunteers were needed in the community to assist staff in working with offenders. While 70% of staff felt that CSC needs to do a better job of selecting, training and screening volunteers, only 37% reported that volunteers are a major threat to the security of operational units.

Relationship Between CSC and NPB

This new section focused on a number of indicators of the quality of relationship between CSC and NPB. On average, 50% of staff rated the quality of the relationship between the two organizations as favorable. Staff perceptions varied by region, worksite type and occupational group. Figure 10 displays the results by worksite type and shows that staff from NHQ rated the quality of CSC’s relationship with NPB highest. Staff employed in RHQs and the community operations also rated the relationship relatively favorably. By occupational group, correctional officers (42% positive) and managers (AS-06 and above, 64% positive) occupied the two extremes on the scale. Fifty-seven percent of case management officers viewed the quality of the relationship between CSC and NPB as favorable.

Figure 10: Quality of Relationship with NPB - % Favorable

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Health and Lifestyle

A new section designed to assess staff health and lifestyle issues was also included in the 1996 survey. While some staff perceived questions within this section as sensitive, the majority of staff answered all of the health/lifestyle questions. The following were some of the findings:

  • 74% of respondents reported working out or participating in sports at least once a month
  • Case management officers and correctional officers were the most likely to engage in such fitness activities (both 80%)
  • One-third of respondents reported the use of tobacco products
  • About one third (32%) indicated that they had smoked at one time but had quit
  • The miscellaneous administrative officer category had the fewest smokers (26%) while the correctional officer group had the largest proportion of smokers (37%)
  • 85% of CSC staff reported using alcohol
  • 44% of staff reported never having had more than 5 drinks on one occasion in the last 3 months
  • 8.3% reported having had more than 5 drinks on one occasion 10 or more times in the last 3 months
  • About 50% of staff reported use (at least sometimes) of over-the-counter pain-killers, 14 used antihistamines and 24 used antacids

Information Technology

Over two-thirds (71%) of CSC employees reported that they are required to access a computer or computer terminal daily in conducting the duties associated with their jobs. Most employees (64%) believe that their job performance has been enhanced by the introduction of computers in the workplace. While more than half of correctional officers (52%) used computers every day, only half (50%) of this group believed that computers increased their job performance. In addition, about 57% of employees from the labour/trades/CORCAN group believed that computers helped increase their performance. Two-thirds (66%) of case management officers felt that computer technology increased their efficiency. Members of the miscellaneous administrative officer group and managers (AS-06 and above) rated the benefits of information technology the highest (84% and 79% respectively).

Figure 11: Quality of Information Technology Support - % Favorable by Worksite Type

Undisplayed Graphic

Figure 11 displays ratings of the quality of support for information technology by worksite type. Just over three-quarters (76%) of staff rated the quality of information technology support as favourable. Staff at headquarters and district parole operations were most satisfied with the information technology support they received. The majority of staff rated the availability of training in information technology as either unsatisfactory (36%) or poor (22%). However, the quality of training received was generally rated higher - 56% rated the quality of training as satisfactory or excellent. Staff were very satisfied with the quality of office automation tools with 92% assigning satisfactory or excellent ratings to the office software they employed.


The current synopsis provides only a glimpse at the findings from the 1996 CSC staff survey. The database generated from the survey exercise is sufficiently detailed to address many specific questions about staff opinions on various issues and the possibility to explore the numerous factors which might account for their views. Detailed analyses conducted at the worksite level (i.e., institutions, parole districts, RHQs and NHQ) will provide much needed information to worksite managers for identifying the unique problems that exist in their sites and possible strategies for addressing the issues. Moreover, the survey database will also provide a source of information for exploring many staff issues at the national level. The existence of the 1994 baseline survey has the added benefit of supplying an opportunity to measure progress in addressing staff issues over a two year period.

In comparing the results from the two surveys, there was little change on most of the 27 scales examined in both surveys. However, there were some salient differences and some organizational strengths and weakness that remained consistent over time which deserve comment.

Both unit management and case management were viewed as more effective by staff in 1996. This is an important and highly positive finding given that effectiveness ratings for these two crucial operational components were perceived as relatively low in the 1994 survey. On the other hand, there was a slight, but noticeable decrease in support for rehabilitation and empathy for offenders in the 1996 results. The recent refocusing of corporate attention on the priority of offender reintegration provides an important step in bolstering staff support for rehabilitation and offender empathy.

The results concerning staff views about the work environment were positive and some gains in satisfaction across the various dimensions were recorded between 1994 and 1996. Work-related stress showed a slight decrease over the two year period while job satisfaction remained stable and even showed a modest increase. Staff also exhibited a decrease in concern about safety and security issues and there was an increase in support for non-smoking workplace environments.

The section concerning the application of rules, policies and procedures confirms that this is an area requiring attention within CSC. While many staff indicate that they apply required policies and regulations in conducting their work, some occupational groups were less attentive to such matters. In addition, as the Service already anticipated, the survey results suggest that legal training and access to policy information are important areas requiring investment by the organization. The results suggest that most staff have confidence that CSC management accords the appropriate degree of importance to matters concerning the application of law.

The results were highly positive concerning harassment in the workplace. The apparent decline in perceptions about the frequency of harassment and seriousness of harassment experienced suggest that CSC efforts to decrease harassment through awareness training have met with considerable success.

While there was an increase in satisfaction with the career management process, staff also showed decreased satisfaction with the performance appraisal process and only a minority of staff were favorable in their views about the competition process. Generally the majority of employees in both government and private sector work organizations express dissatisfaction with the degree of equity manifested in promotion decisions. However, when the 1994 and 1996 results are compared, CSC staff expressed growing skepticism about the extent of equity reflected in the process of promoting employees.

A result that was highly consistent across the two survey periods concerns the dissatisfaction of correctional officers relative to other employees. In contrast, the next largest front-line group, case management officers, were relatively positive on most organizational domains and showed approval for the major objectives of the Service. However, on the vast majority of survey targets, correctional officers express the greatest degree of unhappiness and often only a slim majority expressed views that were supportive of the corporate objectives of the Service. For example, on attitudinal dimensions related to reintegration activities, correctional officers exhibit a need to develop greater appreciation for the importance of rehabilitation and empathy for offenders. Again, the relative differences between correctional officers and other occupational groups was a major finding of the first survey conducted in 1994.

Overall, the survey results paint a picture of an organization that is diverse with respect to the attitudes and values of the various categories of staff which compose its membership. The findings suggest that the organization possesses some difficulties that persist over time and may be relatively resistant to change (support for rehabilitation among correctional officers). Fortunately, there is also evidence that as a result of organizational effort, positive change can be achieved in areas which pose very significant human problems (e.g., harassment). The survey findings also point to an organization whose members can honestly assess their problems and express an interest in making improvements (e.g., application of policy). The survey shows that an enduring strength of the organization is the sustained support for its Mission and corporate objectives. Staff across all regions expressed a high degree of commitment to the organization. The majority of staff were proud to be part of the organization and indicated that they felt loyalty to CSC. Support for the Mission will continue to be a critical resource as CSC strives to achieve its objectives and continues to improve on its performance as a public service organization.