Public Safety Canada National Victims Roundtable - Summary Report

November 2017

Executive Summary

On July 11, 2017, Public Safety Canada’s National Office for Victims (NOV) met with victim stakeholders and non-governmental organizations on the role of victims in the federal corrections and conditional release system and their right to participation under the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (CVBR). The roundtable event was divided into two sessions.

The morning session, led by the Corrections Policy Unit of the Corrections and Criminal Justice Division, focused on a review of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, and provided the opportunity to hear from stakeholders on the key stages of the federal correctional process, in particular:

The afternoon session, led by the NOV, focused on identifying victims’ participation needs, what choice and options could be considered to increase victims’ participation and their overall experience, and gaps or barriers that prevent victims’ meaningful participation in federal corrections and conditional release.

Presentations and discussions during the roundtable highlighted that while the Government has made progress in ensuring victims' participation in the corrections and conditional release system, opportunities to enable all victims of crime to have a voice in the criminal justice system.

Please note that this report summarizes group presentations as well as multiple breakout sessions which occurred over the course of this daylong event. The issues and recommendations outlined in this report are those within the responsibility of Public Safety Canada's (PS) Portfolio. Any suggestions and recommendations pertaining to activities of provincial/territorial jurisdiction or matters for which other federal departments are responsible for will not be included in this report but instead have been shared with the appropriate partners.

National Victims Roundtable


On July 11, 2017, Public Safety Canada’s (PS) National Office for Victims (NOV) hosted a National Victims Roundtable on the role of victims in the federal corrections and conditional release system and victims right to participation under the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. The roundtable brought together stakeholders with different perspectives, including those who have experiences of victimization, and those who provide services to vulnerable populations, including Indigenous and LGBTQ2+ communities.

Building upon previous stakeholder engagement sessions meant to encourage participation of victims of crime and those who may experience marginalization by the system and its available services, the objectives of this roundtable were to identify:

Overview of PS Portfolio victim services

The roundtable began with federal partners providing a brief overview of current victim programming and services.

National Office for Victims (NOV)

A representative from PS explained that the NOV was established in 2005 to ensure that victims’ perspectives were considered in the development of federal corrections policy; to provide general information to victims about corrections and conditional release; and facilitate access to the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) and the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) staff in order to address complaints. The NOV also plays an important co-ordination function in the Public Safety (PS) Portfolio with a focus on working with victims of federally sentenced offenders (individuals serving a sentence of incarceration of two years or more), service providers and the general public to promote federal measures for victims related to federal corrections and conditional release.

In addition, brief descriptions of the following publications, available in both official languages onlineFootnote1 and in print, were provided:

Correctional Service Canada (CSC) - National Victim Services Program

A representative from CSC explained that its mandate is to provide victims with information about the federal offender who harmed them – from the time that a victim requests the information (or registers to receive information) throughout the offender's sentence. CSC aims to empower victims by engaging them in dialogue, answering their questions, providing them with specific information (see section 26 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act {CCRA}) that they want to receive and giving them an opportunity to express the impacts that the crime(s) has had on their lives. 

Parole Board Canada (PBC) - Victim Information

PBC’s representative explained that the Board is an independent administrative tribunal that has the authority to make conditional release decisions for offenders in federal custody and provincial offenders (i.e., less than 2 years in custody) in all provinces except Ontario and Quebec. Victims who register with the Board are entitled to obtain certain information about the offender (see section 142 of the CCRA): such as the offender’s name, sentence, and eligibility dates for release. Victims are also entitled to participate in the parole process by submitting statements and information to the Board for consideration in decision-making and attending hearings either as an observer or to present a statement. Should they not be able to attend in-person, video conferencing can be made available on a case by case basis or victims can listen to an audio recording of the hearing at a later date.

Session 1: Corrections and Conditional Release Review

PS consulted stakeholders on the role of victims in federal corrections and conditional release, with an emphasis on the key stages of the federal correctional process, including intake assessment of the offender and correctional planning; penitentiary placement of offender and programming; as well as conditional release and community supervision.

The purpose of the roundtable was to:

CSC’s Offender Programs and Reintegration Branch

Intake Assessment and Penitentiary Placement of the Offender

This presentation provided a summary of CSC offender case management and risk assessment in corrections. The presentation explained the main components of the case management process; namely, intake assessment, institutional supervision framework, case preparation and release framework, and community supervision, with particular focus on how an intake assessment is carried out as well the institutional supervision framework.

Offender Programming

The second presentation provided by CSC delivered an overview of the Integrated Correctional Program Model, which combines successful elements of CSC’s previous cadre of programs (e.g., substance abuse, anger management, etc.) with more recent innovations in correctional programming. Rather than providing separate theme-based programming, the new programming integrates themes focusing on increasing motivation and awareness of behaviour, as well as examining thinking, beliefs and attitudes and developing self-management and aftercare plans in order to reduce recidivism. It was explained, that under the new model, there are three distinct streams of programming for male offenders: multi- target program, sex offender program and Aboriginal specific program. Women offenders also have specialized programming.

Participants put forward suggestions aimed at offender programming that may better assist in offender reintegration and prevent future victimization by:

In addition, some questions were raised regarding legislative amendments made by the previous government in relation to parole review and if these legislative changes were truly victim centred and facilitated the safe reintegration of offenders in society.

Conditional Release and Community Supervision

The third presentation provided by CSC discussed the correctional process, including effective case management, community supervision and the types of conditional releases available to federal offenders. CSC's mandate includes supporting the safe and gradual return of offenders to society through structured and supervised release processes.

Stakeholders raised concerns about their role in the conditional release process including victim impact statements; barriers to participating in this process and communicating with victims regarding the release process.

Victim Impact Statements:

Numerous concerns and suggestions were noted to federal officials regarding the structure for the delivery of victim impact statements:

Barriers to Participation in the Conditional Release Process:

A number of barriers to the effective participation of victims in the corrections and conditional process were also raised during the question and answer session following this presentation:

Information regarding the Conditional Release Process:

Lastly, during this session, participants noted barriers in the communication of information and decisions regarding the conditional release process:

In addition to the feedback outlined above, several overarching comments were shared:

Session 2: Canadian Victim Bill of Rights and the Right to Participation

The Canadian Victim Bill of Rights (CVBR), which came into force on July 23, 2015, entrenched into law the following rights for victims:

  1. Right to Information;
  2. Right to Protection;
  3. Right to Participation; and
  4. Right to seek Restitution.

As part of the CVBR implementation plan, the NOV, in consultation with its Portfolio partners, has been engaging with non-governmental stakeholders from across the country through a series of roundtables related to victims’ rights in the context of federal corrections and conditional release. On February 9 and July 19, 2016, the NOV held its first roundtables on the “Right to Information” with victim stakeholders and non-governmental organizations.

The 2017 roundtable, held in Ottawa, Ontario, focused on federal corrections and the “Right to Participation.” The afternoon session focused on three themes at the forefront of victims’ right to participate: participation needs, participation format and medium, and reducing barriers to participation. Participants broke out into four groups in order to maximize the opportunity to provide their feedback in regards to these themes.

What we heard about the Right to Participation

Participants raised a number of issues surrounding their participation needs. Suggestions for improvement were provided regarding how information can be better communicated to encourage participation in institutional decisions that also impact victims, as well as victim participation needs in the conditional release process. Additionally, stakeholders noted the need for better communication on how they can participate in corrections and conditional release.

Understanding How to Participate:

Decisions taken at the Correctional Institution Level:

Participation Needs in the Conditional Release Process:

Participants reiterated that parole hearings can be very traumatic. This means that the communication surrounding them is very important. As such, the following recommendations were made:

Reducing Barriers to Participation:

Stakeholders identified two barriers that affect victims’ participation in corrections and conditional release decisions: the exclusion of different types of victims and quality of service.

Exclusion of different types of victims:

Participants raised a number of their concerns with certain populations of victims being excluded from participating in corrections and conditional release.

Quality of Service:

Lastly, participants reiterated the importance of having choice and options to ensure positive experiences and services from federal institutions to encourage victim participation in the corrections and conditional release system. These included:

Moving forward on Understanding Victim Needs in Corrections and Conditional Release

The roundtable wrapped up with a commitment from PS to host a roundtable the following year on the Right to Protection and that the recommendations made during this roundtable will be examined and considered.

Participants were asked if it would be useful to conduct a victim survey. Feedback was mixed. Some felt that this would not be of use given that there is no guarantee that the outcome would improve services for victims while others felt that learning more about the needs of victims and responsiveness of the system could influence change. This said, participants suggested a number of research ideas aimed at better understanding victim needs in corrections and conditional release. These include:


  1. 1

    The NOV publications are available online at

  2. 2

    Lifeline was a program created in 1991 by the Correctional Service of Canada to provide support services for offenders serving life sentences. The program helps to rehabilitate offenders by preparing them for reintegration into society when on parole. It employs successfully reintegrated ex-inmates to mentor recently released offenders. The Lifeline program won several awards for its work in successfully reducing the likelihood to reoffend.

  3. 3

    Circles of Support and Accountability is a reintegration initiative, employing restorative justice principles, that assists individuals, who have served a prison sentence for a sexual offence(s) in their effort to re-enter society. These individuals participate in the program voluntarily.

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