ARCHIVED - Statement by Howard Sapers on his
Annual Report 2005/06
October 20, 2006
The Annual Report 2005-06 of the Office of the Correctional Investigator has received exceptional media coverage and has raised public awareness on an important issue facing Canadians. Questions have been raised regarding empirical evidence of systemic discrimination. It is important to understand what is meant by systemic discrimination and appreciate the issues that have been raised for many years by this Office - the continued disadvantaged position of Aboriginal offenders in terms of timely and safe reintegration.
Discrimination can and does occur in situations where there is no intent to treat someone unfairly. As indicated by the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) in their December 2003 report entitled Protecting Their Rights, "the defining feature of discrimination is its effect". The CHRC identifies systemic discrimination as, "the creation, perpetuation or reinforcement of persistent patterns of inequality among disadvantaged groups. It is usually the result of seemingly neutral legislation, policies, procedures, practices or organizational structures".
The Report does not comment on the "intent" of individual employees or the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC). On the contrary, the Report begins with an opening statement regarding the "high level of professionalism and competence" of the men and women of the CSC.
The Report presents a detailing of a persistent pattern of disadvantaged outcomes resulting from existing policies, procedures, practices and organizational structures. The focus of this Report is about inequitable results or outcomes from current CSC policies and practices.
I wish to reaffirm my strong commitment to work collaboratively with the Correctional Service of Canada on initiatives that will close the outcome gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal offenders. I would like to take this opportunity to indicate that my staff will continue to work diligently to assist and support the Correctional Service's initiative that will remove barriers that hinder the timely and safe reintegration of Aboriginal offenders.
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