Actions and Commitments

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

Office of the Correctional Investigator Annual Report 2022-2023

November 2, 2023

ANNEX A: Summary of Recommendations

  1. I recommend that the Minister of Public Safety initiate an immediate and comprehensive review of the Offender Program Assignments and Inmate Payments system in federal corrections. This review should ensure enhanced pay levels are indexed to inflation to reflect current and expected cost of living increases. At a minimum, I recommend a proposed increase to $3.75 per hour, which reflects the hourly equivalent of the current top daily pay rate of $6.90 (or $1.15 per hour, based on a six hour workday) indexed to inflation going back to 1981. Proposed changes arising from this review should be consulted with the incarcerated population and community organizations serving those behind bars and on parole.
  2. Until a new payment and allowance model is adopted and put in place, I recommend that CSC immediately implement a series of interim measures that will help to offset costs and increase the purchasing power of federally incarcerated individuals, including:
    1. Removing all mandatory deductions;
    2. Adjusting the pay level criteria to allow for a larger proportion of individuals to receive Level A and Level B payment;
    3. Ensuring goods that are essential to self-care and welfare (e.g., hygeine products) are provided free of charge; and,
    4. Reviewing the purchasing catalogue and ensuring goods are more affordable and accessible.
  3. I recommend that the Minister of Public Safety ensure that the new regulations require CSC to report publicly on the frequency, duration and outcomes (whether or if contraband is seized) of all dry cell placements starting in 2023-24, and going forward.
  4. I recommend that the Minister of Public Safety ensure that the new regulations require the decision to extend a dry cell placement beyond 72 hours to rest with the Regional Deputy Commissioner (RDC). The regulations should state that “under exceptional circumstances” where specific requirements are met, the RDC may extend dry cell placements by each 24-hour period, up to a maximum of 48 hours. Dry cell duration should never exceed five consecutive days.
  5. I recommend, consistent with the Minister’s Directive, that CSC develop and provide clear, specific, and consistent national guidelines to ensure humane treatment for dry cell placements that includes specific criteria and guidance on items to be provided in terms of bedding and mattresses, food, personal hygiene and toiletries, access to phones, illumination and meaningful human interaction.
  6. I recommend that the Minister of Public Safety ensure that CSC take immediate action to develop and implement an external and independent patient advocacy model to provide access to health care advocacy services for all federally incarcerated individuals.
  7. I recommend that CSC take further action to address the needs and protect the rights of gender diverse individuals, including:
    1. Creating an external advisory role to inform decision-making regarding gender     
      diverse individuals.
    2. Clarifying the practice of “overriding health or safety concerns” by establishing parameters, further guidelines, and clear examples.
    3. Establishing new institutional mechanisms for gender diverse individuals to safely     
      report abuse.
  8. I recommend that CSC conduct a review of MSUs with the goal of reallocating resources to ensure that minimum-security women benefit from community programs, services, and activities so that they are prepared at the earliest date possible to return to the community.
  9. I recommend that the Minister of Public Safety direct CSC to significantly increase the use of temporary absences and work releases for women in minimum security, to ensure they can regularly access the community to provide more options and enhance their opportunities for successful reintegration.
  10. I recommend that the Minister of Public Safety convene independent investigations under the Inquiries Act into prison riots resulting in death, suicides in Structured Intervention Units, use of force interventions involving death and murder committed by a federal parolee in the community.
  11. I recommend that the Minister of Public Safety direct CSC to fund an external, Indigenous-led national engagement initiative to create capacity, interest, and innovation among Indigenous communities and organizations (urban and rural) to enter into Section 81 and 84 agreements for the care, custody, and supervision of Indigenous Peoples under federal sentence.
  12. I recommend that the Minister of Public Safety direct CSC to develop and publicly report on clear actions, timelines, measureable targets and deliverables to:
    1. more effectively engage Indigenous communities and organizations to establish more     
      Section 81 agreements, particularly in areas where there are noted gaps (e.g., Ontario     
      and Atlantic region, for Indigenous women, and individuals from northern locations;     
      urban settings);
    2. establish section 81 agreements in urban and rural areas; and,
    3. transfer control and ownership of existing CSC-run Healing Lodges to the local     
      community, or an Indigenous group or organization, under Section 81 of the CCRA     
      within three years.
  13. I recommend that the Minister of Public Safety direct CSC to work with the Section 81 Healing Lodges to identify the main causes of vacancy rates and identify actions that will be taken to increase and maintain higher occupancy rates, with specific attention to:
    1. Developing new and rigorously validated security classification tools for Indigenous     
      peoples, from the ground up, that reduce their over-representation in medium and     
      maximum security, consistent with the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v.     
      Ewert, 2018;
    2. Reviewing and modifying the policies and practices for Security Threat Group (gangs)     
      flags with a view to facilitating the removal of these flags, where appropriate;
    3. Developing and implementing a gang-disaffiliation and exit strategy that is run by     
      Indigenous community-based individuals and/or organizations;
    4. Increasing the availability of trauma-informed care at women’s and men’s facilities     
      and the ability for incarcerated Indigenous persons to receive proper mental health     
      diagnoses and treatment; and,
    5. Increasing the number of Indigenous persons who cascade to lower security levels     
      (e.g., accepting medium security populations) and expediting transfers to Healing     
      Lodges, particularly Section 81s.
  14. I recommend that the Minister of Public Safety direct CSC to co-develop, with communities and organizations, a new funding model for Section 81 agreements and significantly increase funding to Section 81 Healing Lodges to better support their specific needs and to address the existing disparities with state-run lodges, in order to achieve resourcing parity.
  15. I recommend that CSC enhance the impact and reach of institutional Indigenous initiatives by:
    1. Conducting a review of current Pathways participants to identify and recommend     
      individuals for Healing Lodge placements and other non-custodial alternatives (e.g.,     
      section 84 agreements).
    2. Developing an overarching culturally responsive approach that comprises of     
      institutional initiatives for Indigenous people who do not benefit from the current     
      Pathways model. This would include expanding the benefits offered by the Pathways     
      Initiative (e.g., access to Elders, ILOs, Healing Plans, one-to-one counselling) to a     
      larger number of individuals.
    3. Developing clear and concrete Correctional Plan objectives that guide sentence     
      planning for offenders serving sentences of 10 years to life, and providing more     
      meaningful incentives to Indigenous Lifers (e.g., ETAs, lower-security transfers,     
      and Healing Lodge placements).
    4. Collaborating with Indigenous Initiatives at the regional and institutional levels to     
      develop yearly national action plans that increase in-reach by First Nations, Métis,     
      and Inuit communities, community based organizations, non-profits, post-secondary     
      institutions, and other stakeholders to establish ties and support systems with     
      incarcerated individuals that begin at intake and continue post-Warrant Expiry.
  16. I recommend that CSC create job security and additional financial supports for Elders:
    1. Elders should be compensated comparably to CSC staff, as well as those in similar     
      roles, such as federal government employees working as chaplains.
    2. Elders should be offered and have access to a benefit scheme that will foster their     
      long-term wellness, including access to mental health and trauma supports and     
      resources, sick days, vacation, retirement contributions and savings and self-care,     
      equivalent to federal government employees.
    3. CSC should do away with onerous Statements of Work that place an undue     
      administrative burden on Elders.
    4. CSC should rethink how and to whom Elders report.
    5. CSC should ensure Elder insights are properly reflected and integrated into case     
      management records and decisions.
  17. I recommend that CSC integrate Elders within CSC’s leadership and governance structures respectful of Elder autonomy and independence with the same reverence, recognition, and status accorded Elders in Indigenous communities.
  18. I recommend that CSC develop a standardized onboarding training for Elders that outlines the expectations, rules, and reporting practices of CSC. CSC should work to reduce the gaps and differences between institutions and their practices towards Elders. This could include the development of national guidelines or policies when working with Elders, as well as peer support.
  19. I recommend that CSC provide Elders with appropriate, prioritized and dedicated indoor and outdoor spaces to conduct ceremonies and programs and for confidential counseling as part of their conditions of work. Elders should maintain control over all items used for cultural and spiritual ceremony, including sacred medicines. For greater clarity, CSC should not interfere with Indigenous peoples’ right to ownership, control, access, and possession (OCAP) of Indigenous intellectual property, including curriculum, ceremony and knowledge shared by Elders as a part of their work with CSC.
  20. I recommend that CSC ensure that all staff undergo mandatory and annual Indigenous cultural safety and awareness training, provided by an external agency. Training should recognize the diversity among First Nations, Métis and Inuit to avoid perpetuating pan-Indigenous assumptions.
  21. I recommend that CSC report yearly and publicly on measureable performance indicators, results and outcomes to reduce Indigenous over-representation in federal corrections. These indicators and outcomes should be co-developed with Indigenous stakeholders, including Elders and community leaders, and reflect Indigenous concepts of healing and progress.
  22. I recommend that the Minister of Public Safety work jointly with the Ministers of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada and Indigenous Services Canada, as well as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, to develop and implement a national Indigenous decarceration strategy.

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