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Which visitors are eligible for private family visits?

Private family visits (PFVs) take place inside prisons, but in separate structures. They allow inmates to spend time (up to 72 hours every two month) with visitors in private.

However, only visitors who fall into one of the following categories are eligible for private family visits:

  • Immediate family;
  • Those the offender has a “close personal relationship” with

Both of these categories have very specific definitions.

Immediate family: in respect of an offender, includes the following members of the offender’s family:

  • the offender’s spouse or common-law partner
  • a child of the offender or of the offender’s spouse or common-law partner
  • the father and mother of the offender or of the offender’s spouse or common-law partner
  • the spouse or common-law partner of the father or mother of the offender or of the offender’s spouse or common-law partner
  • the foster parent of the offender or of the offender’s spouse or common-law partner
  • a child of the offender’s father or mother or a child of the spouse or common-law partner of the offender’s father or mother.

Note: common-law partner refers only to those who were living with the inmate in a conjugal relationship for at least one year at the time of the inmate’s incarceration. It’s up to the inmate and visitor to show proof of a common-law relationship, which can (in some cases) be done through filling out a form declaring the visitor and inmate are in a common-law relationship.

Close personal relationship: (includes extended family members for Aboriginal offenders) exists between two individuals and is normally characterised by situations in which:

  • both individuals shared a close familial bond
  • one of the individuals contributed significantly to the moral or spiritual development of the other
  • both individuals were engaged in a long-term living arrangement or partnership
  • both individuals shared significant life experiences that resulted in an enduring bond of friendship and trust
  • for Aboriginal offenders, extended family members may include family relations that exist by birth, as well as significant others who are not related by birth, but are given the title of grandparent, parent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle or other relative.

Visitors need to complete paperwork as part of the application process, including a Statement of Voluntary Participation and Consent for Private Family Visits, Visiting Application and Information Form, and Institutional Access CPIC Clearance Request (and, if applicable, a Declaration of Common-Law Union and Visiting Application – Child Safety Waiver). Visitors will be asked to describe the nature of their relationship with the inmate they wish to visit, why they want to participate in PFVs, safety concerns related to the inmate, specific goods (e.g. baby food, diapers) and medical supplies required during the PFV, etc.

Potential PFV visitors may also be interviewed by staff members.

A criminal record is not necessarily a bar to visiting an inmate on a private family visit. The institution will consider what impacts the visit could have on the safety and security of the institution, and it may deny the visitor access if the risk is too great.

Inmates who are dissatisfied with a decision made by CSC about PFVs can use the inmate complaint and grievance procedure.

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.