In the beginning of October, I wrote about Vic Toews, Canada's Public Safety Minister, who cancelled the contracts of non-Christian chaplains at federal prisons across the country. From that post:

"'Toews' office says that [...] the part-time non-Christian chaplains will be let go and the remaining full-time chaplains in prisons will now provide interfaith services and counselling to all inmates'. One can easily see why this is an incredibly bad idea. To borrow an analogy from a close friend: this is like expecting a Volvo specialist to handle the needs of every other company's cars, just because they know 'cars'. The Christian chaplains may get some of the peripheral's right, but they'll never be able to provide religious services to all faiths, even if they tried. Why? Because doing so would go against the dogma of their own religion.

I can't imagine the Christian chaplains being happy with this decision either, honestly. Even if they were allowed/pushed to provide only Christian type services to those of other faiths, it would be a daunting and ungrateful task. If the Christian chaplains will be required to provide the services the part-time chaplains used to provide, they must feel even worse. Can you see a Christian chaplain performing a Samhain ceremony? Or a proper Sweat Lodge?  Of course, that's not exactly Toews' problem, now is it?"

A few days ago, The Wild Hunt reported a few updates on the situation. It seems that some individuals, religious groups, and prisoner right's groups weren't too happy with the decision Toews made, and started litigation. In response, the Canadian government back-paddled on the decision and chose to reinstate at least four minority faith chaplains. CBC reported on the decision as follows:

"The federal government is restoring religious counselling services to some non-Christian federal prisoners in British Columbia, but officials deny they are reversing cuts made last year. [...] Instead, media relations adviser Sara Parkes said, the government is taking interim measures to meet the needs of inmates until they can roll out a revised plan for spiritual services."

As a result of the reinstatements, and promises for future revisions, the lawsuit filed against the Canadian government is currently terminated. Undoubtedly, the plaintive will keep a close eye on the revised plan the government is slated to roll out. 

The Wild Hunt goes on to say that the Canadian government might be on the hunt for a new contractor for their religious services to inmates. The Globe and Mail reports on the topic that: 

"[T]he chaplaincy program will undergo another significant shift, with the federal government looking to contract all chaplaincy services through a single provider, a Corrections Canada spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

“Going forward, CSC will consolidate this contractual process under one national contractor,” Sara Parkes wrote in an e-mailed response to questions. “In conjunction with CSC, the national contractor will ensure the provision of chaplains who are qualified, official representatives of their faith traditions and capable of ministry in the correctional environment.”"

Personally, I'm slightly worried about this move. Wicca, for example, does not have a government recognized training program for ministry, as I'm aware, so how will this work for us as Pagans, exactly? I guess we will see what happens. For now, at least part of the terminated positions will be filled again, and that's the main thing at this point. I'll keep you updated.