Simon Says

Bringing clarity to the inner workings of our legal system

When are inmates eligible for parole?

Inmates are generally eligible for parole after serving 1/3 or 7 years of their sentence (whichever is less). Parole eligibility for those serving life sentences is decided at sentencing.

In addition to parole, inmates may be eligible for other types of release. Inmates are eligible for these different types of release at different points in their sentences.

Federal inmates

Escorted temporary absences (“ETAs”)Inmates can apply at any time. These are at the discretion of the Correctional Service of Canada, although the Parole Board of Canada must approve ETAs in some cases (for example, when sought by an offender serving a life sentence).
Unescorted temporary absences (“UTAs”)


An inmate with a sentence of 3+ years is eligible for UTAs after serving 1/6 of their sentence. Inmates serving sentences of 2-3 years are eligible after serving 6 months.

Offenders with life and indeterminate sentences are eligible 3 years before their full parole eligibility date.

Not available for offenders classified as maximum security.

Work release Offenders are eligible for work release at the same time they are eligible for UTAs.
Day paroleOffenders serving sentences of 2+ years are eligible to apply 6 months before their full parole eligibility date or 6 months into the sentence (whichever is greater).

Those with life or indeterminate sentence can apply 3 years before their full parole eligibility date or after serving 3 years (whichever is greater).

Full paroleOffenders can apply after serving 1/3 of their sentence or after 7 years—whichever is less. However, those with life sentence will have their parole eligibility decided at sentencing.
Statutory releaseIf parole has not been granted after an offender has served 2/3 of his or her sentence, the offender must be released into the community under supervision.

Note that those with life and indeterminate sentences are ineligible. Also, the Parole Board of Canada can issue detention orders to keep inmates past their statutory release date if there are reasonable grounds to believe the offender is likely to commit certain kinds of offences.


Provincial inmates

Temporary absenceOffenders can apply at any point.
ParoleOffenders are eligible after serving 1/3 of their sentence.

Offenders can also receive earned remission (15 days per month) if they are of good behaviour, allowing for early release.

Past performance is not indicative of future results, and outcomes will vary according to the facts of individual cases. This site is intended for information purposes only. None of the information on this site should be considered “legal advice.” Information on this website (including blog posts and answers to frequently asked questions) is the opinion of the author only and is not warrantied or guaranteed to be an exhaustive, definitive, or accurate statement of the law. The proper interpretation and application of the law must always be done on a case specific basis; therefore, you should not rely on the general information on this site as a substitute for proper legal research or the advice of a licenced lawyer.