Governance: A Framework for Decision-Making



Approved by: Correctional Investigator
June 2010


Table of Contents

 

1.0 Introduction

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The purpose to this document is to provide a high-level framework for decision-making at the Office of the Correctional Investigator. This governance framework demonstrates how decision-making is undertaken within a policy framework, within organizational and committee structures and using processes consistent with the ethics and values of the organization.

By formalizing, documenting and disseminating the decision-making framework of the OCI, it is intended that issues requiring resolution will be raised, prioritized and dealt with and that strategic and operational plans can be devised and implemented with the broadest possible input and consultation.

This governance document is an evergreen document which is intended to adapt to ongoing change within and outside of the organization, while remaining constant to the values long honored and respected by parliamentary democracies in general, and Canadian citizens in particular.

This framework outlines how the OCI fulfills its responsibilities under Part III of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, by focusing on the principles by which the OCI operates, the way in which responsibility is assigned and shared, the relationships between different parts of the organization, and the processes used to ensure accountability.

2.0 The Office of the Correctional Investigator

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The Office of the Correctional Investigator, which was established in 1973 under the Inquiry Act and formalized in 1992 in Part III of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, is mandated to “act as the Ombudsman for federal offenders”. The primary function of the Office is to investigate and bring resolution to individual offender complaints, regarding acts, omissions, decisions or recommendations made by the Correctional service of Canada (CSC).  The Office as well, has a responsibility to review and make recommendations on the  Service's policies and procedures associated with the areas of individual complaints to ensure compliance to human rights and that systemic areas of concern are identified and appropriately addressed.

The work of the OCI is highly sensitive and its recommendations can affect the way business is carried out in correctional institutions. The office's observations and recommendations impact both individual offenders and the services' policies and procedures that affect them. The OCI must strike a balance between respect for individual rights and the reasonable use of control by CSC.

Our interventions with offenders and CSC staff, our policy position papers and the reports we submit to Parliament and central agencies must all meet the highest ethical and professional standards. The work we do is only relevant if what we produce can withstand the highest scrutiny, be understood by offenders, the Correctional Service of Canada and our other stakeholders/partners in the criminal justice system, while generating meaningful debate about the issues we address and practical solutions to the problems we investigate.

With this sustained relevance, we are in a unique position to make important contributions to the policy responsibility of Public Safety Canada and the Correctional Services of Canada.

OCI reports highlight findings and recommendations made by the Correctional Investigator, aimed at correcting and preventing recurring problems in federal corrections and improving correctional policy. 

While the OCI is concerned by all nature of individual offender complaints, Investigative staff will also be directed to monitor and respond to key systemic areas of concern relating to: (1) segregation and conditions of confinement; (2) mental health (3) preventable deaths in custody, (4) Aboriginal offender issues, and (5) program access. All of these areas of focus will be monitored to ascertain not only their impact on the general offender population, but for their specific impact on female inmates as well.

The OCI is not part of the Correctional Service of Canada and is an independent agency that reports to Parliament through the Minister of Public Safety. The Minister has no involvement in the operations of the OCI.

The Corrections and Conditional Release Act, provides for the appointment by the Governor in Council of a person, to be known as the Correctional Investigator of Canada. It also authorizes the appointment under the Public Service Employment Act of all employees necessary to enable the Correctional Investigator to perform his function and duties.

3.0 Role of the OCI

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Vision:

Excellence in Corrections through Accountability

Mission:

As Canada's federal prison Ombudsman offering independent oversight of federal Corrections, the Correctional Investigator contributes to public safety and the promotion of human rights by providing independent and timely review of offender complaints. The Correctional Investigator makes recommendations that assist in the development and maintenance of an accountable correctional system that is fair, humane and effective.

What we do:

The Correctional Investigator has the authority:

  • To receive, investigate and report on complaints by individuals.
  • Investigate system-wide issues that give rise to these complaints.
  • Initiate investigations on own initiative.
  • Investigate problems referred by the Minister of Public Safety.
  • Recommend changes to the applicable law, practices or policies.

The fundamental role of the OCI is to review and make recommendations for the resolution of  federal offender complaints about acts, omissions, decisions or recommendations made by staff of the Correctional Service of Canada. The OCI holds the Service accountable to Parliament and the Canadian public by providing; an independent oversight of the Service's conduct of its correctional operations and by making recommendations for corrective action and improvements.

When reviewing an offender's complaint, the OCI does not act as an advocate either for the complainant or for the Correctional Service of Canada. Its role is to conduct an independent investigation and reach objective conclusions based on all the information provided by both the complainant and the Service. The OCI is, above all, concerned with fairness.

If the OCI determines that the offender's complaint is without merit, it will inform the offender accordingly and provide a rationale for its conclusion. Conversely, if it concludes that CSC's behavior or decision was contrary to law or policy, or unfair or unreasonable, the OCI will inform the Service accordingly and seek corrective action at the lowest level possible. The CCRA authorizes the Office of the Correctional Investigator of Canada to bring outstanding issues to the attention of the Commissioner of Corrections, the Minister of Public Safety and Parliament and ultimately, the public, by means of a Special Report or its Annual Report.

4.0 Operating Principles

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Leadership:

Senior Management of the organization will provide strategic leadership to the organization in establishing its vision, its mission, its core operating values and its key staffing values, and by approving policies that reflect them, and shall ensure that they are implemented.

Core Values:

In line with the organization's Code of Values and Ethics, the following core values guide the Office's work and reflect the safe, healthy and productive work environment for which we strive:

  • Excellence
  • Professionalism
  • Integrity
  • Independence
  • Objectivity
  • Fairness
  • Openness
  • Transparency
  • Timeliness
  • Clear and consistent communication
  • Teamwork
  • Inclusiveness
  • Respect
  • Diversity
  • Commitment to Human Rights.

Staffing Values as reflected in the Public Service Employment Act;

  • Non-partisanship and free of political influence
  • Fairness, transparency, accessibility and representativeness are applied with a view to ensuring merit.

5.0 The Policy Framework

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The Office of the Correctional Investigator works within a policy framework defined by federal legislation and regulations in general and by Part III of the CCRA in particular.

Although the OCI is part of a Public Safety Portfolio, it is an independent agency. Its independence from the rest of the portfolio and, for that matter, from the rest of the federal Public Service allows the OCI the freedom to make observations and recommendations on the conduct of correctional operations by CSC and that is and is seen to be independent of the influence and motivations of other organizations. This is also reflected by the separate non-unionized employer status of the OCI.

The OCI creates policies and guidelines to complement or augment central agency policies, where necessary, to reflect the structure, processes and culture of the OCI. As clearly stated in legislation, the Correctional Investigator of Canada has the control and management of all matters connected with the Office of the Correctional Investigator. On a day to day basis, implementation of the guidelines as they relate to the business processes of the OCI  are the responsibility of the Executive Director and General Counsel, Directors of Investigations, Director, Corporate Services and Planning and CFO and the Director, Policy and Research as they relate to the management of the OCI. The Director, Corporate Services and Planning/CFO is also responsible to maintain current copies of all policies and guidelines, and to make them accessible to all employees.

6.0 Role of the Correctional Investigator of Canada

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The Correctional Investigator of Canada is the Chief Executive Officer of the organization. The Correctional Investigator holds the position of deputy head and is the Accounting Officer under the Federal Accountabilty Act.

Accountable to Parliament, the Correctional Investigator of Canada leads the OCI in achieving its mandate as defined under section 167 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act

As Chief Executive Officer, he respects the legislation and policy of the federal Public Service, within the Management Accountability Framework as established by the Treasury Board of Canada.

While it is the purview of the Correctional Investigator of Canada to make a decision on any matter at any time, his signature to this document is a reflection of his desire to engage the organization in decision-making with proper authorities, correct and timely information and with clear accountabilities.

7.0 Decision-Making Structures

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Decision-making structures are embodied in both the organization chart and the committee structure.

7.1 The Organizational Structure of the OCI

The organizational structure of the OCI outlines roles, responsibilities and accountabilities, in terms of the hierarchy and reporting relationships. The current version of the organizational structure follows:

Organization Chart – Office of the Correctional Investigator

Organization Chart - Office of the Correctional Investigator

7.2 The Committee / Meetings Structure of the 0CI

Decision-making at the OCI is assisted at the most senior levels by a structure of Committees, as detailed below. 

Senior Management Committee

The composition of the Senior Management Committee (SMC) consists of the Correctional Investigator as an ex officio member, permanent members and allows for ad hoc participation, as required. Permanent members are the Executive Director and General Counsel, Directors of Investigations, Director, Corporate Services and Planning/CFO and Director, Policy and Research. 

The role of the SMC is essentially to establish strategic and operational policies and guidelines and in so doing, to set the general direction of the OCI. The Committee also deals with a broad spectrum of management issues, including but not limited to staffing, finance, health and safety, and internal and external communications. 

All OCI SMC members make a commitment to attend monthly  Committee meetings and such other special meetings as are required. Committee members may be required to carry out a variety of other tasks in addition to their normal duties.

The SMC may form short-term task groups to address specific issues. A task group will include at least one SMC member (who will act as Chair of the task group) and may include other OCI staff. Task groups meet for set periods of time and report back to the Senior Management Committee.

Items for tabling and all relevant documents are normally given to and discussed with the Chair at least five (5) working days prior to the meeting, to allow for inclusion in the agenda and dissemination to members of the Committee.

SMC is chaired by the Executive Director and General Counsel and will meet regularly at his call or in his absence, of his designate who will act as Chair. Minutes will be kept by the Director, Corporate Services and Planning / CFO and circulated to all permanent members within five (5) working days of the meeting and ten (10) working days to all staff.

Occupational Health and Safety Committee

The Committee is established pursuant to the requirements of the Canada Labor Code (CLC). This is an employee/employer co-led Committee created to protect the health and safety of persons in the workplace.

The Correctional Investigator is an ex officio member of the Workplace and Safety Committee

Permanent membership of the Occupational Health and Safety Committee consists of the Director, Corporate Services and Planning/CFO, one OCI employee as co-Chair, and another OCI employee as Member.

Meetings will be held at least nine times per year, as per the frequency requirements specified in the CLC. Either Chair can call a meeting as required.

Minutes will be kept by the all members on a rotational basis and distributed to members within five (5) working days of the meeting and to all staff within ten (10) working days. The minutes will also be posted on the bulletin board outside the Files Room.

Internal Audit Committee

Its purpose is to review functions and activities of the OCI on a planned basis. Its main role is to develop and maintain the corporate risk profile and audit plan. The committee will initiate and review internal audits and will liaise with the Small Department and Agency Internal Audit Committee of the OCG.

Permanent members are the Correctional Investigator, Executive Director and General Counsel, Directors of Investigations, Director,  Policy and Research and the Director, Corporate Services and Planning / CFO.

The Correctional Investigator will normally chair this Committee. In his absence, he may designate an alternate Chair.

Items for tabling and all relevant documents will normally be given to and discussed with the Chair at least ten (10) days before the date of the next meeting, to allow for inclusion in the agenda and dissemination to other members.

The Internal Audit Committee will normally meet twice a year, unless the Correctional Investigator or his designate requests an ad hoc meeting to discuss specific issues of concern.

Minutes will be kept by the Director, Corporate Services and Planning / CFO and distributed to members within five (5) working days of the meeting and ten (10) working days to all staff.

Roundtable Committee

Role is to provide a forum for discussion on operational issues involving participants in the near term.

Permanent members are the Executive Director and General Counsel, Directors of Investigations, Director, Policy and Research,  Director, Corporate Services and Planning / CFO and the Managers of Investigations.

The Executive Director and General Counsel will normally chair this Committee. In his absence, he may designate an alternate Chair.

This is an informal forum which meets weekly and minutes will not be prepared.

All Staff Meetings

The purpose of this forum is to provide information and updates to all OCI employees on a myriad of operational and corporate issues. Standing items on the agenda include Financial Management and Staffing Updates.

The Executive Director and General Counsel chairs this meeting. In his absence, he may designate one of the Directors of Investigations as an alternate Chair.

This formal meeting is held once a month and minutes will be prepared (usually by a member of the Intake Officer complement) and provided to all staff within ten (10) working days.

Investigative Team Meetings

The purpose of these meetings is for participants to share operational information, lessons learned. Participants include investigative staff, intake officers, managers of investigations and the Director of Investigations.

Each Director of Investigations chairs this individual team meeting. In her absence, she may designate one of the Managers of Investigations as an alternate Chair.

This is an informal meeting and minutes are not prepared.

Employee Retreat

The purpose of this meeting is two fold: provide a team building experience for all OCI employees as well as a professional developmental opportunity. It also allows the organization to set the agenda for the upcoming fiscal year.

Follow up items are documented and addressed.

8.0 Decision-Making Process

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Decisions are taken at the OCI in keeping with the values of the organization. Who takes decisions is outlined either in policy, job descriptions or charts outlining signing authorities (delegation).  Where it is unclear who is to take a given decision or how it is to be taken, such questions are raised with one's supervisor or with the responsible manager.