OTTAWA – Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has announced changes to Canada's policy surrounding female inmates by tightening the qualifications for federal prisoners in medium-security prisons looking to be moved into lower security facilities such as Indigenous healing lodges.

Going forward, the decision on whether to transfer certain federal inmates out of prisons and into lodges that are run by Correctional Services Canada will fall to the Deputy Commissioner for Women.

In order to qualify for a transfer the following factors will be considered:

  • the length of a sentence;
  • the time remaining before release;
  • the inmate’s behavior while incarcerated; and
  • if a long-term offender, that they be in the final stages of their correctional plan.

The new rules will also involve greater communication with victims and their families, as well as with Indigenous communities, Goodale said Wednesday.

These changes stem from recommendations given by the federal corrections commissioner, who recently completed a review of Correctional Service Canada's inmate transfer policy.

The review of the policy came after a political controversy erupted over the transfer of Terri-Lynne McClintic from prison to an Indigenous healing lodge in Saskatchewan. McClintic was convicted of first-degree murder in the kidnapping, rape and murder of eight-year-old Tori Stafford in 2009. The Conservatives were highly critical of her transfer and called on Goodale to reverse the decision.

When the issue arose this fall, Goodale said the decision was being reviewed to make sure that the law and longstanding policies of the federal government were properly applied in this situation.

The changes come into effect immediately and will apply to existing and future cases.

Goodale did not comment on the McClintic case specifically, but confirmed that McClintic's situation could be impacted by this policy change.

In a statement, Conservative public safety critic Pierre Paul-Hus said the Liberals had "deflected, dodged, and hid behind their officials and bureaucratic processes until they were humiliated into doing the right thing."

The party is now calling on Goodale to confirm whether or not McClintic has been put back behind bars.

In a statement to CTV News, Stafford's family said they are "anxiously awaiting for word on whether McClintic will be transferred back to maximum security and when, if at all." 

With files from CTV News’ Annie Bergeron-Oliver

              

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