Coalition calls on Federal Government to reverse defunding decision on part-time chaplaincy
Thursday, October 18, 2012 9:49 am
- For Immediate Release –
(Ottawa, Canada – October 18, 2012) – In an open letter to Minister of Public Safety, the Hon. Vic Toews, a coalition of national faith and civil liberties groups is calling on the Correctional Service of Canada to reverse the recent decision to cancel the contracts of part-time chaplains at federal prisons.
The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) joins the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the World Sikh Organization of Canada, Independent Jewish Voices, the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, and the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada, among many others in calling on the government to fulfill its obligations to inmates of all faiths.
“This open letter sends a strong signal that cutting funding to support the diverse spiritual needs of federal prisoners is not acceptable,” says Ihsaan Gardee, Executive Director of CAIR-CAN.
“Canadians demand and expect the government to uphold the rights of all citizens equally. It’s critical that inmates have equal access to spiritual counseling by people from within their own faith traditions,” says Diana Ralph, spokesperson for Independent Jewish Voices.
Experts say that chaplaincy is often a key element in supporting the successful reform and reintegration of inmates upon their eventual release back into communities.
“We see people in our faith-based transformation programs have their reoffending rate drop to 10 to 20 per cent, compared to 40 to 80 per cent in the federal and provincial system,” explained Rev. Eleanor Clitheroe, CEO of Prison Fellowship Canada in a recent news article.
“The short-term cost savings of cutting part-time funding are exponentially outweighed by both the expected decrease of spiritual care to thousands of Christian and non-Christian inmates and the increased burden to taxpayers that re-offenders pose. Moreover, this decision threatens the safety of all Canadians because it takes away an important tool in reducing criminal behaviours. We believe the government will have to respond to the growing opposition to this decision and restore this critical funding,” says Mr. Gardee.
To read the open letter, click here.
CAIR-CAN is a national, non-profit, grassroots organization committed to empowering and engaging Muslims in their communities.
Ihsaan Gardee, CAIR-CAN Executive Director,
Imam Yasin Dwyer, Islam Care Centre,
Diana Ralph, Independent Jewish Voices,