Part-time chaplains of Federal Prisons Soon to Lose Practice

The Conservative government has declared that the part-time chaplains working in federal prisons are no longer going to continue their jobs after their contracts expire next year. The government states that this decision will apply to 31 Christian and 18 non-Christian chaplains. However, the full-time chaplains will still continue their job practice by providing spiritual advice to the general prison population.

The Public Safety Minister Vic Toews’s secretary, Julie Carmichae, mentioned in an email that “convicted criminals will continue to have access to religious services of their choice on a voluntary basis.” It also stated that “the government funds some full-time chaplains that are determined based on the number of inmates requesting services from each faith. These chaplains will also make themselves available to provide services to the general population.”

On the contrary, the Liberals and NDP are criticizing the Conservatives for denying the renewal of contracts of non-Christian chaplains only. An interim Liberal Leader, Bob Rae, asserted that “to me, this is an unbelievable government. They make a big fuss about the fact that they’re creating an office of religious freedom in the department of Foreign Affairs and in Canadian prisons, they say, ‘Well sorry, you have to make do with whatever is on offer and it’s all spiritual, so that’s fine.” Similar point was made by New Democrat MP, Paul Dewar, who said that “the minister has no justification for cutting it.”

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