Canada's federal prison system has chosen a private contractor to provide chaplaincy services across the country. In the midst of this reorganization, Anglicans are helping to make sure the spiritual needs of prisoners are met.
Varley and the Rev. Dale Gillman of the Diocese of Qu'Appelle are the two Anglicans on the Interfaith Committee on Chaplaincy (IFC)—an advisory body that represents the interests of the nation's faith communities to the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC).
In April 2013, the federal government announced it would contract out all chaplaincy services to a single private company. Kairos Pneuma Chaplaincy Inc. won the one-year contract and began providing chaplaincy services in October 2013.
Right now, Kairos Pneuma employs only 22 per cent of all federal prison chaplains. Others work under contracts between Canada's different faith communities and the federal government. As those contracts expire, the positions will come under the responsibility of Kairos Pneuma.
The company is also responsible for the recruitment and hiring of chaplains, but Canada's religious groups will certify that potential chaplains are suitable for ministry.
Before the shift to private contractor, the work of the IFC was "more hands-on," says Gillman. IFC members would participate directly in the hiring and evaluation of chaplains. "I really enjoyed being part of that process."
"Our part may be less now than it has been," says Varley, "but nonetheless, we have to ensure that we are providing qualified individuals rooted and connected in the Anglican church. The interfaith committee will continue to provide advice to the CSC in order to meet the religious and spiritual needs of offenders, and will have a part to play in the delivery of service and the contractor itself."