B.C. Corrections teaches offenders the value of work by helping them gain the skills they need to find it. Practical training and meaningful job experience gives offenders a better chance of becoming self-sufficient on their release.
Real Experience for the Real World
At correctional centres, inmates work and take vocational training that makes a positive impact, locally and globally. It also gives inmates the opportunity to:
- Earn wages
- Gain skills and experience
- Obtain certification they can use to find work after they are released
At the same time, these programs keep inmates active and learning, and give our correctional officers the opportunity to teach teamwork and the value of doing a good job.
Giving Back, Locally and Globally
Offenders work to help people locally and overseas. In some programs, for example, offenders repair bicycles which are sent to impoverished communities in third world countries.
Having a chance to make a difference in another person’s life can have a positive effect on inmates’ self-esteem. In fact, it’s not unusual for correctional officers to receive letters from former inmates telling them how being a part of something larger helped them see the world in a new light.
Technical certificate training programs
Most correctional centres offer vocational training to help offenders find employment on their release. Depending on the region and facility, inmates may earn certifications in:
- Building maintenance
- Industrial first aid
- Foodsafe Level 1
- Hazardous waste management
- Safe pesticide application
- Chainsaw operation
- Basic electrical
- Drywall installation
- Fire suppression
- Forklift operation
- Bicycle repair
At the Nanaimo Correctional Centre and Ford Mountain Correctional Centre, crews get practical training in working with fire-suppression equipment. Inmates repair hose nozzles, fire shovels and axes to support local fire crews. This service funds the training initiatives at the centres and saves public dollars by extending the life of fire equipment.
Carpentry and metal fabrication
Many correctional centres teach carpentry and metal works, including, fabrication, power-tool use, welding and repair. Inmate crews produce gazebos, lawn furniture, wildlife habitats, picnic tables and pallets for private contractors and government clients.
Services for camps, parks and community groups
Inmates give back to the community by providing maintenance, cleaning and building services for parks, municipal and non-profit groups, and help set-up public festivals such as the Winter Olympics and Vancouver’s Festival of Lights.
Crews are supervised and inmates must pass strict-risk assessment tests to participate.
Invasive weed removal and road cleanup
B.C. Corrections work with the Ministry of Agriculture to train offenders to identify and safely remove invasive plants threatening native B.C. species. Government contracts inmate crews to remove these plants along provincial roads and highways and to clean up roadside areas. Inmates who successfully complete the training can earn a pesticide applicator certification.
Horticulture and Silviculture
At the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women, a master gardener from Van Dusen Gardens trains inmates in:
- Greenhouse operation
- Growing vegetables
Produce grown by inmates is served at the centre.
The Nanaimo Correctional Centre supports a farming program which trains inmates in:
- Poultry and egg production
- Wood cutting
- Heavy equipment use
Bicycle and eye glass repair programs
Two correctional centres provide bike repair services to the Compassionate Resource Warehouse, a volunteer organization that supplies refurbished bicycles to families in impoverished countries. Inmates at North Fraser Pretrial Centre repair thousands of eye glasses that are shipped overseas to people in need.
ALLCO Fish Hatchery
An inmate crew at the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre (FRCC) keeps salmon stocks healthy in the province’s rivers. Inmates incubate, hatch and raise salmon fry, orchestrate their release, then collect new eggs from the returning adults to begin the cycle again. Since its launch, the ALLCO facility has released almost 40 million salmon fry into local watersheds.
The ALLCO Fish Hatchery is managed by FRCC along with:
- Alouette River Management Society
- Department of Fisheries and Oceans (Canada)
- Ministry of the Environment (British Columbia)
Animal care programs
Our partners at the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA) train inmates at the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women to rehabilitate stray dogs for placement in the community. In return, inmate crews offer general maintenance and kennel cleaning services to local SPCA centres. Offenders learn to train and care for various breeds and to assess a dog’s suitability for placement, and an in-house commercial pet day care earns revenue that helps fund the program.
The Prince George Regional Correctional Centre has also partnered with the SPCA to offer inmates courses in dog obedience training.
Other work and vocational training programs
Offenders at all B.C. correctional centres work to maintain their centres. Inmate crews may:
- Assist with the kitchen, laundry and maintenance
- Learn light industry skills such as tailoring, industrial ceramic production, hardware packaging
- Manufacture siding, eavestroughs or small tools
- Learn trades such as TV maintenance, painting or landscaping
Programs are designed to suit the specific requirement of each centre, as well as the needs of the communities in which the centre is located.