We call upon the federal government to eliminate barriers to the creation of additional Aboriginal healing lodges within the federal correctional system.

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusOct. 4, 2021In Progress
Previous StatusSept. 5, 2021In Progress

Why “In Progress”?

Government response addresses identified funding and operational issues that negatively impact Indigenous managed healing lodges vs those managed by Correctional Services Canada through a new finding formula. The response offers no timelines and/or targets for elimination of barriers to create “new” Aboriginal healing lodges. 

July 26, 2019 – new Aboriginal Healing Lodge announced for Scarborough. The 24-bed lodge would offer short-term housing and support for Indigenous women who are either before the justice system, or re-integrating into society after incarceration. 

New Funding Model for Section 81 Healing Lodges

In 2017, Correctional Service Canada (CSC) strengthened the Section 81 funding arrangement to better support their operations and respond to the needs of Indigenous communities and organizations managing those Healing Lodges. The new funding formula provides fixed and variable payments that will equal to the negotiated daily rate. The fixed cost which is normally a 60% of the negotiated daily rate is paid whether an offender occupies a bed or not. This allows the Healing Lodge to fund all its fixed recurring financial obligations of managing a facility. The variable cost which is normally the remaining 40% of the negotiated daily rate is paid when a bed is occupied by an offender. This new funding formula which has been deemed fair and respectful by agreement holders, applies to all existing and new Section 81 agreements. It will allow Indigenous agreement holders to have access to funds that will ensure the effective operations of their Healing Lodges including adequately responding to the needs of Indigenous men and women offenders in their care and custody. 

Commissioner’s Directive 541-2 “Negotiation, Implementation and Management of CCRA Section 81 Agreements

Correctional Services Canada (CSC) is currently updating a number of policies to ensure timely assessment of Indigenous community applications for a Section 81 Agreement while strengthening how CSC processes the transfer of Indigenous offenders to Healing Lodges as part of their reintegration plans to the community. CSC is currently reviewing several Indigenous Community Expressions of Interest to enter into a Section 81 agreement with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for the care and custody of Indigenous men and women offenders.  

Aboriginal Healing Lodges

In 2009-2010, Correction Services Canada (CSC) allocated $21,555,037 for CSC lodges and $4,819,479 for section 81 lodges. This discrepancy in funding meant that Section 81 lodges had to pay their employees up to 50% less and may be unable to provide adequate training. According to the Office of the Correctional Investigator, the original intent was for CSC lodges to eventually be transferred to the control of Aboriginal communities. There is also “the perception among some Section 81 Healing Lodge staff and CSC officials that CSC-operated Healing Lodges are in competition with Section 81 Healing Lodges for minimum security inmates.”

Indigenous Managed Healing LodgesLocationOpenedBeds
Prince Albert Grand Council Spiritual Healing LodgeWahpeton First Nation, Saskatchewan199712
Stan Daniels Healing Centre, EdmontonEdmonton, Alberta199973
Waseskun Healing CentreSt. Alphonse-Rodriguez, PQ199922
O-chi-chak-ko-sipi Healing LodgeCrane River, Manitoba200328
Buffalo Sage Healing LodgeEdmonton, Alberta201128
Thunder Women Healing LodgeScarborough, Ontario201924

There are now 10 Healing Lodges in Canada offering 437 beds: 6 co-managed by an indigenous community and 4 run exclusively by CSC. Buffalo Sage Wellness House, Okimaw Ochi Healing Lodge and the new Thunder Women Healing Lodge are for women.

CSC Managed Healing LodgesLocationOpenedBeds
Okimaw Ohci Healing LodgeMaple Creek, Saskatchewan199560
Pê Sâkâstêw CentreMaskwacis, Alberta199760
Kwìkwèxwelhp Healing VillageHarrison Mills, BC200150
Willow Cree Healing CentreDuck Lake, Saskatchewan200480
Correctional Services Investigator Report 2017-2018

Recommendation # 13

Recommend that CSC re-allocate very significant resources to negotiate new funding arrangements and agreements with appropriate partners and service providers to transfer care, custody and supervision of Indigenous people from prison to the community. This would include creation of new section 81 capacity in urban areas and section 84 placements in private residences. These new arrangements should return to the original vision of the Healing Lodges and include consultation with Elders.

Spirit Matters: Aboriginal People and the Corrections and Conditional Release act. Final Report

Correction Services Canada “Spirit Matters” Recommendations

  1. CSC should create the position of Deputy Commissioner for Aboriginal Corrections to ensure that adequate co-ordination takes place between and among the various components of CSC, federal partners and Aboriginal communities.
  2. CSC should develop a long-term strategy for additional Section 81 agreements and significantly increase the number of bed spaces in areas where the need exists. Funding for this renewed strategy should either be sought from Treasury Board or through internal reallocation of funds and amount to no less than the $11.6 million re-profiled in 2001 and adjusted for inflation.
  3. CSC should re-affirm its commitment to Section 81 Healing Lodges by: (a) negotiating permanent and realistic funding levels for existing and future Section 81 Healing Lodges that take into account the need for adequate operating and infrastructure allocations and salary parity with CSC, and (b) continuing negotiations with communities hosting CSC-operated Healing Lodges with the view of transferring their operations to the Aboriginal community.
  4. In all negotiations, CSC should enter into Memoranda of Understanding with the appropriate agency or First Nation leadership to ensure that the leadership and Elders are involved and considered equal partners in those negotiations.
  5. CSC should re-examine the use of non-facility based Section 81 agreements as an alternative to Healing Lodges, particularly in those communities or regions where the number of Aboriginal offenders may not warrant a facility. The results of this examination would form part of CSC’s overall strategy for Section 81.
  6. CSC should thoroughly review the process for Section 84 releases with the goal of significantly reducing red tape and accelerating the process.
  7. CSC must expand its staff training curricula to include in-depth training about Aboriginal people, history, culture and spirituality for all staff, including training in the application of Gladue principles to correctional decision-making. This training should not just be “one-offs,” but rather ongoing training provided throughout an employee’s career.
  8. CSC must resolve the issues faced by Elders in both institutions and Healing Lodges to ensure that their primary concern and responsibility is the healing of Aboriginal offenders. Further, CSC should set realistic standards of service, caseloads and payment for Elder services. CSC should be responsible for reporting on progress made in achieving those standards as part of its Management Accountability Framework.
  9. CSC should partner with Aboriginal collectives, be they Tribal Council, Métis or Inuit organizations or urban associations, to develop protocols for Section 84 releases into their respective communities. These protocols, possibly based on the MLSN model, would define the relationship between CSC and Aboriginal communities and set in place a process for accepting and monitoring released offenders under Section 84.
  10. CSC should work with Aboriginal Christian, Inuit and other identifiable communities to develop Section 81 agreements where warranted.

http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2013/bec-oci/PS104-6-2013-eng.pdf

Indigenous Women in Solitary Confinement. Policy Backgrounder, August 2017

Native Women’s Association of Canada

Recommendations

The Government of Canada should:

  1. Abolish the practice of solitary confinement and segregation for Indigenous women.
  2. Revise CSC policies and practices regarding Sections 81 and 84 of the CCRA so that do not restrict the legislative provisions and fulfill their therefore enable more women to access community-based and culturally appropriate options.
  3. Train police officers, judges, and lawyers on the impacts of colonialism and systemic discrimination and how those systems lead to the over-criminalization and incarceration of Indigenous women
  4. Collaborate with Indigenous communities, Elders, National Indigenous Organizations, and social justice/human rights organizations to develop community-based, culturally appropriate programming that is responsive to the needs of Indigenous women
Canadian Bar Association

Responding to the TRC Calls to Action March 2016

The Canadian Bar Association endorses Call to Action # 35

Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

Through engagement with Indigenous communities and organizations and other partners including the Office of the Correctional Investigator, the funding arrangement for Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) Section 81 Healing Lodges was identified as a key barrier to the operations and sustainability of Section 81 Healing Lodges. In 2017, Correctional Service Canada (CSC) strengthened the Section 81 funding arrangement to better support their operations and respond to the needs of Indigenous communities and organizations managing those Healing Lodges.

The new funding formula provides fixed and variable payments that will equal to the negotiated daily rate. The fixed cost which is normally a 60% of the negotiated daily rate, is paid whether an offender occupies a bed or not. This allows the Healing Lodge to fund all its fixed recurring financial obligations of managing a facility. The variable cost which is normally the remaining 40% of the negotiated daily rate, is paid when a bed is occupied by an offender. This new funding formula which has been deemed fair and respectful by agreement holders, applies to all existing and new Section 81 agreements. It will allow Indigenous agreement holders to have access to funds that will ensure the effective operations of their Healing Lodges including adequately responding to the needs of Indigenous men and women offenders in their care and custody.

In addition, CSC has reviewed and is currently updating a number of its policies including Commissioner’s Directive 541-2, Negotiation, Implementation and Management of CCRA Section 81 Agreements, to ensure timely assessment of Indigenous community applications for a Section 81 Agreement while strengthening how CSC processes the transfer of Indigenous offenders to Healing Lodges as part of their reintegration plans to the community. CSC is currently reviewing several Indigenous Community Expressions of Interest to enter into a Section 81 agreement with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for the care and custody of Indigenous men and women offenders.

CSC is committed to ongoing partnership with Indigenous communities through regular engagement sessions and an annual Healing Lodges’ Executive Directors and Wardens strategic planning meeting where strategic discussions include collaboratively identifying any barriers and ways to remove them as CSC continues to nurture our long standing relationships with Indigenous peoples through the CCRA Section 81 since 1992.