Processing Offender Grievances in Canadian Federal Corrections

Research Highlights: Improved efficiencies and increased capacity have dramatically reduced the backlog of offender grievances at the final level.


No RIB-18-13

October 2018

Research in Brief- PDF

Processing Offender Grievances in Canadian Federal Corrections

Why we did this study

A recent Internal ‘Audit of Offender Redress’ in the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) noted that the complaints and grievance process as outlined in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act provides offenders with a pro-social means of resolving issues when they are dissatisfied with an action or decision. Consequently, it was posited that an effective process can alleviate offender animosity thereby impacting the safety of institutions. While the internal audit found that mechanisms were in place to oversee and plan for the remediation of a grievance backlog at the national level, reporting on and demonstrating progress was still required.

What we did

The average populations under the jurisdiction of CSC were drawn for five separate fiscal years (2013-14 to 2017-18) from the automated Corporate Reporting System-Modernized (CRS-M) Capacity module. The CRS-M system standardizes the historical reporting of a wide variety of metrics at the national and regional levels.

Offenders submit final grievances for a variety of reasons, ranging from discrimination and use of force to staff performance and food services. These offender grievances are assigned a code in the Offender Management System (OMS) and submitted to an Offender Redress division at CSC National Headquarters (NHQ) for decision. For fiscal years 2013-14 to 2017-18 final level grievance data (received, closed and active) were extracted from the Reports of Automated Data Applied to Reintegration (RADAR) – Portal on Results, Information, Measurement and Evaluation (PRIME) application.

What we found

As reflected in the chart and table below, the number of active final grievance files peaked at 9,205 in 2014-15 and declined steadily to 3,245 in 2017-18. Notwithstanding the internal efficiencies implemented and additional resources obtained to address the backlog, it would appear that from 2016-17 (4,245 active files) to 2017-18 (3,245 active files) that the active case load diminished by 1,000 (or 24%) in one year.

Grievance Metrics – Final Level
Fiscal Year Average
Received Closed Active
2013-14 22,969 4,696 3,106 4,689
2014-15 22,958 9,597 3,010 9,205
2015-16 22,872 5,023 9,181 5,237
2016-17 22,882 4,014 4,805 4,245
2017-18 23,060 3,741 4,930 3,245
Total   27,071 25,032  

What it means

The steady decrease in active grievance files is expected to continue, as this trend reflects CSC’s concerted efforts to reduce the backlog. These efforts include the development of internal efficiency strategies (triaging grievances by date and type, creating specialized teams and restructuring management practices) combined with additional resources.

For more information

Please e-mail the Research Branch or contact us by phone at (613) 995-3975.

You can also visit the Research Publications section for a full list of reports and one-page summaries.

Prepared by: Larry Motiuk and Andre Arnet-Zargarian

Date modified: