Prisoners won’t be forced to use Christian ministers
October 10, 2012 | Jewish Tribune
TORONTO - Inmates in Canadian prisons will not be forced to seek spiritual guidance solely from Christian ministers.
“B’nai Brith Canada has received assurances from Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews that inmates of all faith traditions will continue to be ministered to by chaplains representing their own religion,” said Frank Dimant, CEO, B’nai Brith Canada.
In addition, Toews issued an open letter in which he stated, “As you may know, I recently undertook a review of the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC)’s delivery model for spiritual services for offenders incarcerated in the federal correctional system to ensure taxpayer dollars are being used wisely and appropriately. The media have inaccurately reported on the changes resulting from this review and I want to take the opportunity to reassure you that our government strongly supports the freedom of religion of all Canadians.”
The volunteer chaplain and full-time chaplaincy programs within Canadian prisons will continue.
A spokesperson for Toews told B’nai Brith that, in fact, about 2,500 volunteer prison chaplains of all faiths will continue their good work nationwide. The only program that will be eliminated is the one which employs part-time, paid chaplains. This will affect employees of all faiths.
Although there are no full-time Jewish chaplains working within Canada’s prison system at present, there are a number of volunteer Jewish chaplains, the spokesperson said. Full-time chaplains of Muslim and other faiths are currently employed within the federal correctional system.