Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 30: Justice (25-42)

2022 Auditor-General report finds systemic barriers still exist in Correctional Services

May 31, 2022

Auditor-General Canada: A report from Auditor General, Karen Hogan, tabled today in the House of Commons, concludes that Correctional Service Canada has not adjusted its programs and interventions to respond to the diversity of the offender population. This has resulted in systemic barriers that have persistently disadvantaged certain groups of offenders in custody, consistent with issues reported in previous audits in 2015, 2016, and 2017. In addition, Correctional Service Canada had not met its own commitment to better reflect the diversity of the offender population in its workforce.

“We raised similar issues in our audits in 2015, 2016 and 2017 yet Correctional Service Canada has done little to change the policies, practices, tools and approaches that produce these differing outcomes”, said Ms. Hogan.

The audit found that Black and Indigenous offenders experienced poorer outcomes than any other groups in the federal correctional system and faced greater barriers to a safe and gradual reintegration into society. Disparities were present from the moment offenders entered federal institutions. The process for assigning security classifications—including the use of the Custody Rating Scale and frequent overrides of the scale by corrections staff—resulted in Indigenous and Black offenders being assigned to maximum-security institutions at twice the rate of other groups of offenders. They also remained in custody longer and at higher levels of security before their release.

The audit also found that timely access to correctional programs—an issue raised in past audits—had continued to decline across all groups of offenders, and further worsened during the COVID‑19 pandemic. By December 2021, only 6% of men offenders had accessed the programs they needed before they were first eligible to apply for parole.

“Different outcomes for certain groups of racialized and Indigenous offenders have persisted for too long”, stated Ms. Hogan. “Correctional Service Canada must identify and remove systemic barriers to eliminate systemic racism in corrections, including meeting its own commitment to better reflect the diversity of the offender population in its workforce.”

Systemic barriers to offenders in custody

  1. Indigenous and Black offenders were placed in higher security institutions
  2. Timely access to correctional programs continued to decline
  3. Indigenous offenders remained in custody longer than other offenders
  4. There was no plan or timeline in place to better reflect the diversity of the offender population in corrections staff

For full details as well as recommendations, click on the following link: