The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and the Islamic Family and Social Services Association (IFSSA) released a report on Tuesday that calls for an end to the privatization of Canada’s federal prison chaplaincy program.
Under the Harper Conservative government in 2013, Canada privatized the federal chaplaincy program in a move that was widely criticized as an attack on non-Christian chaplains.
The report shows that today’s model, which concentrates all these services and processes under the purview of a single private contractor, Bridges of Canada, has led to perceptions and concerns around reduced access to quality services and reduced resources for minority faith groups.
“Privatizing prison chaplaincy has resulted in multiple problems,” says Adar Abdulkadir, the report’s main researcher, “First and foremost, it means that prisoners from diverse faith backgrounds may not have access to quality and culturally sensitive faith-based chaplaincy. Faith-based chaplaincy can play an important role in reducing recidivism – and most importantly, if we believe in an attempt to rehabilitate prisoners, we cannot rely on Harper-era reforms that have not demonstrated efficacy or clear cost-savings."
“The system here is clearly not functioning properly,” says NCCM Communications Coordinator Fatema Abdalla “ We need systemic change and to rebuild relationships with faith communities on the ground, as opposed to a privatizing our prison system to corporations with limited roots in Canada.”