For-profit chaplaincy in Canadian federal prisons

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.

Anglican Church in Canada: News from General Synod:

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."

Comments (2)

Are chaplains being paid less? What is the differential between what they were being paid or what they are being paid now. Can they unionize, or are they independent contractors?

Question: If an independent organization is hiring chaplains, why do they need religious organizational endorsements?

The state of Canada's prisons is a growing controversy. The Harper government's increasing use of "mandatory minimum" sentences, which several judges have struck down as unconstitutional, prison crowding, allegations of abuse of prisoners by guards caught on video, are components. Last year there was a controversy over the Conservative government's plan to phase out non-Christian prison chaplains. (See link).

The full Canadian General Synod piece linked here by Episcopal Cafe is not that well written ( The Episcopal Cafe digest is easier to read), but at the bottom of the original GS article you can via links at the end, compare the Inter Faith Committee on Chaplaincy and the new private contract Kairos Pneuma Chaplaincy Inc;, from an inter-faith perspective, in terms of their respective boards membership. Having done so, I would be interested to know more about Kairos Pneuma's expertise with regard to non-Christian faith groups.

Here is the link to Politics Canada via Huffington Post re the inter faith chaplains controversy.

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