Public Policy, Canada, Federal Corrections, Corrections Programs, Censorship, Research Access, Substance Use, Social work ethics, Corrections, Corrections research, Corrections policy


Health Policy | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance | Social Policy | Social Work


Approximately three quarters of men in Canadian federal prisons have a substance use problem that played a role in their offenses. Guided by a rehabilitative mandate, the Canadian federal corrections system includes substance use programs as a key component of its service. The Corrections and Conditional Release Act places the responsibility for the design, provision, and evaluation of rehabilitative programs on Correctional Service Canada (CSC), giving CSC considerable freedom in how it constructs and delivers services. This freedom, while increasing flexibility, warrants an investigation into CSC’s design and implementation of substance use services. This paper reviews academic and government literature to determine the overall adequacy of CSC’s substance use services for men, using the Canadian Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics as an ethical framework for analysis. This analysis demonstrates that CSC has not provided enough concurrent treatment for substance use and mental health disorders and that further study is needed to determine the efficacy of existing programs. However, due to recent funding cuts to CSC’s Addictions Research Centre, and its insular research climate, CSC’s capacity to address these issues is questionable. While funding cuts disguised as “consolidation” are common in the public service sector, reports of censorship and hostile attitudes towards researchers emerging from a federally funded institution are cause for concern and deserving of increased public awareness. Political and practical implications of these results are considered, and solutions are proposed.