PeerLife: A Collaborative Network

A Collaborative Network
c/o St. Leonard’s House, Windsor
491 Victoria Avenue
Windsor, ON N9A 4N1

Please direct all inquiries to:
Catherine Brooke, Executive Director
Tel: 519-256-1878 

Who We Are

The PLC comprises of representatives from four St. Leonard’s community-based agencies in Hamilton, Peterborough, Ottawa and Windsor. We are also supported in a research and advisory capacity by St. Leonard’s Society of Canada (SLSC) and Maison Cross Roads (Montreal). Community-based agencies know from experience that preparation for the release of people with long term sentences is critical for safe and successful reintegration.

The PLC Approach

Persons with life sentences have unique characteristics by virtue of their sentence which call for a specialized approach in sentence management, productive use of time and release planning. The PLC and its partners support a national strategy for life sentenced persons in Canada by:

  • Providing support to all lifers through employment of In-Reach Workers, i.e. successful paroled lifers who return to prison to guide incarcerated lifers throughout their sentences;
  • Advocating and collaborating with government and other community partners to develop evidence-informed services to both incarcerated and paroled lifers in the community;
  • Encouraging community residential services to assist lifers in their transition to the community; and,
  • Marshaling resources to achieve a national model of success for lifers in Canadian prisons.

What We Do

The PLC was developed in response to the cancellation of the LifeLine service in 2012. LifeLine operated for 20 years serving lifers across Canada. This internationally recognized program was developed and guided by a partnership of Correctional Service Canada (CSC), Parole Board Canada (PBC) and community-based sponsoring agencies.

Since 2012, the PLC has self-funded two In-Reach Workers to support and assist lifers in minimum security prisons. CSC maintained the security clearances of the workers, and the PBC continues to value their contribution as Assistants at parole hearings.

In 2016-17, with funding from Ontario Trillium Foundation, the PLC delivered a program to assist lifers to break away from the gang culture while in prison. Additionally, we also delivered orientation workshops for newly admitted lifers.

In 2017, the PLC and its partners produced the Life(r)’s Work Report: An Historical Analysis and Evaluation of a Program for Life Sentenced People in Canada. This report demonstrated the need for an evidence-informed approach modeled on the LifeLine concept.

For more information on our activities, click here to view our annual reports.

Future Directions and Developments

In 2018-19, the PLC has engaged formally with CSC’s Regional Headquarters in Ontario to look at alternative ways to provide services by delivering the Lifer Resource Strategy in a group format; reporting on barriers to release for lifers past their parole eligibility dates; and, by consulting with Elders to determine how best to meet the need of aboriginal lifers.

Concurrently, SLSC has received a Policy Development Contribution Program (PDCP) grant from Public Safety Canada to review and revise the Lifer Resource Strategy (LRS), an evidence-informed training tool that provides skills and purpose at each stage of a life sentence. The revised LRS will be used to train additional In-Reach Workers in Ontario and Quebec in early 2019, and help inform a national strategy for life-sentenced people in Canada.

The goal of undertaking these activities is that the PLC will create the opportunity for CSC to reinvest in the growing number of life-sentenced persons – who currently comprise over 22% of the inmate population.

How Can You Help?

Community corrections does not stop at the prison wall. The rationale for reaching in with hope and support to the most neglected inmates, the long term prisoners, remains as necessary today as it did when LifeLine started in 1991. There are both humanitarian and public safety benefits for mission-driven agencies to support PLC.

A few community agencies have kept this unique program alive but we need broader financial and governance support to sustain and expand this internationally recognized service. Here’s what you can do:

  • You can become a “Member” of the PLC by sharing in an equal portion of the budget, invoiced on a monthly basis.
  • You can become a “Supporter” of the PLC as an Agency or individual by making a financial or in-kind contribution on an annual, monthly, or one-time basis.

We recognize that not all agencies have the same resources and capacity but every level of support is greatly appreciated.