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Subjects: PSF, NTA, CFG, DEI

Correctional Service of Canada Responds to Correctional Investigator's 2022-2023 Annual Report

OTTAWA, ON, Nov. 2, 2023 /CNW/ - Today, Anne Kelly, the Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada, issued the following statement:

"I welcome the Office of the Correctional Investigator's (OCI) 2022-2023 Annual Report and thank them for their work and recommendations. I also want to acknowledge the comments made by Indigenous leaders at today's OCI press conference. Our response outlines concrete actions that we are taking to address the recommendations in the OCI's Annual Report.

First and foremost, I would like to thank our staff, Elders, volunteers and partners for their dedication and professionalism in changing lives and protecting Canadians. Together, they work tirelessly with federal offenders across the country, and continue to make outstanding contributions to the safe and successful rehabilitation of offenders.

Building a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples and expanding culturally responsive approaches to Indigenous corrections, are the foundations of our correctional system. We are very attuned to the issue of overrepresentation and continue to make efforts to improve outcomes for Indigenous peoples. We are doing so in partnership with Indigenous peoples and communities, and this continues to be a focus of our first-ever Deputy Commissioner for Indigenous Corrections, who was appointed earlier this year.

Early intervention, restorative justice measures, and community partnerships and engagement are a key part of our approach. We have created Indigenous Interventions Centers to provide streamlined support to Indigenous offenders and continue to support the Pathways Initiative, which provides culturally responsive environments where Indigenous offenders are able to participate in more intensive healing and interventions that are sensitive to Indigenous culture and tradition.

CSC continues to work with communities to create section 81 agreements, or community-run healing lodges, to ensure that Indigenous offenders have access to culturally relevant programming and supports for their safe return to the community. We have introduced policy changes to reduce barriers, optimize and expand the agreements. In fiscal year 2022-2023, there was a 144% increase in the number of Indigenous offenders transferred to a healing lodge over the previous fiscal year. There was also a 63% increase in the number of successful transfers to lower security for Indigenous offenders, from 384 in 2021-2022 to 433 in 2022-2023.

We agree that investments need to be made directly to local community organizations to provide supports for Indigenous offenders. An example of this is our Indigenous Offender Reintegration Contribution Program (IORCP), where funds are directly distributed to facilitate Indigenous offender reintegration support by strengthening community partnerships, enhancing community engagement and increasing awareness of CSC programs within communities. For fiscal year 2023-2024, we have allocated all of our contribution funding to Indigenous partners and are planning enhancements to the program.   

We value and rely on the role that Elders have in providing spiritual, ceremonial and counselling support and teachings to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit offenders wishing to engage in the Indigenous Continuum of Care. Currently, CSC contracts approximately over 160 Elders and Elder Helpers, and the services of Elders or Spiritual Advisors are available in all institutions. This week, we are participating in a National Elder conference in Edmonton to have important discussions about Indigenous corrections and our shared commitment.

We recognize there is more work to do, but I can assure Canadians that we continue to make this a priority as we work with our Indigenous partners, our National Indigenous Advisory Committee, our National Elders Working Group and all of the Elders to support the safe and successful rehabilitation of Indigenous offenders."

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SOURCE Correctional Services of Canada

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