The 180 chaplains, who represent a variety of faiths and spiritual practices, saw their services curtailed last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and some, the union says, had to turn to government-assistance programs to make ends meet.
The tentative agreement includes major wage increases, pension and extended health-care benefits for full-time staff, protections around hours of work and anti-harassment and anti-discrimination provisions.
“This agreement comes at a critical time for Canada’s prison chaplains and the inmates for whom they provide spiritual care,” according to Ken Neumann, national director of the United Steelworkers union.
“This agreement recognizes the important contribution chaplains make under difficult working conditions,” he said.
“The system has unfortunately undervalued the critical role played by chaplains in the rehabilitation process.”
A mail-in vote on ratification will be held in coming weeks.
With files from The Canadian Press