The Organization

History

The Association des services de réhabilitation sociale du Québec (ASRSQ), a non-profit organization, was founded in 1962 thanks to the initiative of four aftercare agencies : the Société d’orientation et de réhabilitation sociale (Montréal), the John Howard Society of Québec (Montréal), the Service de réadaptation sociale (Québec), and the Catholic Family Rehabilitation Services (Montréal). 

It was established with a view to “bringing together within the province of Québec generic and/or specialized social services concerned with the rehabilitation of prisoners and offenders from both sexes”. 

Four additional objectives completed the definition of its original mission:

  1. To support social services, particularly with regard to:
    • Services provided to prison inmates, ex-inmates, and their loved ones;
    • Penal reform and preventive measures;
    • The dissemination of information designed to raise public awareness about the problems facing offenders and the treatment programs being offered;
    • The delivery and maintenance of high quality services.
  2. To collaborate with government and private organizations in the various sectors of corrections.
  3. To assist and advise the Association’s member organizations; 
  4. To promote the development of institutions or services for inmates and/or offenders and to assist in the development process.

A little more on our history…

  • Establishing the movement

    This clustering of services, specializing in the provision of services to adult clients having come in contact with the criminal justice system, occurred as a result of the development social service agencies, first on a charitable basis, but eventually taking on increasingly professional features during the 40s and 50s. On the government side, 1959 was a landmark year as legislation was adopted that establishing the National Parole Board and setting out the rules governing the granting of parole. 

    In the wake of these events, ASRS and its specialized agencies played a key role to give a concrete expression to the new vision of delinquency, notably to the importance of the social reintegration of ex-offenders. In addition to the development of new services at the federal level, this action led to the creation by the Government of Québec of the Adult Probation Service toward the end of 1967.

  • Effervescence and expansion

    The 60s and 70s were marked by great effervescence and expansion in the field of criminal justice, particularly in corrections. The baby-boom—as it did in other sectors of human endeavour—generated an explosion in the number of people coming before the courts and having to deal with the correctional system. This phenomenon, along with the increasing use of social reintegration measures for offenders, led to the development, in the 70s, of residential facilities located within the community and managed by citizens from those same communities; these facilities were referred to as Community Residential Centres (CRC) or halfway houses. 

    During that same period, except for the Québec-City-based Service de réadaptation sociale, the main social agencies that had been at the heart of the establishment of the Association des services de rehabilitation sociale became part of the fledging para-public sector designated as Centres de services sociaux. This move soon led to the disappearance of these agencies and to a major realignment of ASRS’s membership, within which CRC’s and agencies providing employment assistance took on increased importance.

  • Evolution of the inner workings

    ASRS was also called upon to evolve and to find new ways of doing things in order to meet the Association’s new demands and challenges. Hence, in October 1978, its temporary secretariat staffed by volunteer Board members was replaced by a permanent secretariat consisting of two staff persons: an Executive Director, Mr. Reneault Tremblay, and a part-time secretary. 

    A new direction then began to emerge, a shift toward the consolidation of services that were primarily community-based rather than institutional, all the while focusing on collaboration between the two groups, i.e. community and government agencies. This led to ASRS negotiating its first contract with the Federal Government of behalf of its members. It included monetary clauses, as well as appendices setting out the procedures relative to the community assessment process and supervision standards. These negotiations led to the signing of a service contract on behalf of its 25 member organizations, then referred to as “agences sociales”. ASRS’s action and influence were further felt during that period, notably through the submission of briefs, the conduct of research pertaining to services, and the establishment of fact-finding committees.

  • The ASRSQ philosophy (1978)

    Toward the end of the 70s, ASRS established a committee whose work culminated in the drafting of a statement of principle focusing on the community’s needs, role, and contribution2. This coincided with a development period for the ASRS which actively recruited new members, while its board members worked to consolidate its organizational structure.

    1. Members characteristics

    Looking at the characteristics of each member and at the role played by the government, we believe that the five following characteristics must act as a guide on the direction taken by our organization.

    a) The organizations united under the ASRSQ work within the community by using the resources of their members and act as a tool for its community.

    Our basic principle lay in the fact that the community must play a role when it comes to offenders and the issue of delinquency. For too long, the private sector has been absent from this field.

    The direction and community involvement of each organization are different in their intensity and form, but they are a part of their mission.

    b) The organizations united under the ASRSQ are agents of change within the correctional system. Their services are defined by the needs of the individual and the collectivity. Moreover, it favours an approach in which the offender is accountable for their actions.

    c) These organizations demonstrate a greater flexibility and adaptability than government services. This characteristic is due to the work of volunteers within the administration and the considerably smaller size of these organizations.

    d) Despite their different role, each organization complement each other. Better coordination would help improve this responsibility. To do so, the ASRSQ should focus their role in the correctional field. The ASRSQ is therefore a great way to encourage decompartmentalization and sharing.

    e) The population serviced are often the same as government organizations’, but the methods differ. The member organizations provide structured services, have well-defined objectives and an action plan. Moreover, they are generally more innovative and creative in their solutions regarding the delinquency issue.

    The government sector inevitably benefit from the successful initiatives of the non-governmental sector. However, the interaction between these two sectors could be improved by a better definition of their respective roles.

    2. Basic principles

    a) The ASRSQ promotes the community involvement and participation in the collective and individual issue of delinquency. It aims to make accountable both the community and the offender when it comes to this issue.

    b) The needs of each individual and their environment must guide the action of non-governmental organizations.

    c) The flexibility and adaptability of these organizations must be maintained and fostered and the non-governmental sector must improve its autonomy by precisely defining its role in opposition to the government sector.

    3. The objectives

    a) Bring together on a provincial level the organizations and associations working in the non-governmental correctional field.

    b) Encourage the member organization to:

    • Maximize their presence within the community;
    • Assist any citizen with delinquency issues within their community through clearly defined programs;
    • Help the entire community get involved in this matter.

    c) Act as a spokesperson for the organizations when it comes to:

    • Facilitating the achievement of their objectives;
    • Maintaining the necessary autonomy for a dynamic evolution;
    • Allowing an easier access to their services.

    d) Encourage the production of resources by the community.

    e) Be the guardian of the government’s respect of offenders’ rights and the community’s rights on the issue of delinquency.

    f) Be the instigator of continuous change and evolution.

    g) Promote research projects that aim to evaluate the impact of programs established by member organizations.

  • "Le" partnership

    In March 1982, wanting to distinguish its services from those provided by the government sector, the Association and its members adopted statement of principle entitled “Le partnership”. This statement represents [translation] “ … an agreement between the Government and the community sectors with regard to policy development and general directions, program planning, the assessment of functioning and outcomes”. 

    That notion of partnership evolved and was updated by the ASRS Board of Directors in 1987. Around that same time, the Association abandoned its provincial charter in order to seek incorporation under federal legislation, and became known as the Association des services de rehabilitation sociale du Québec (ASRSQ). That change made it possible for the Association to establish itself as a national voluntary sector organization in Canada.

  • Political establishment

    Subsequently, ASRSQ focused on providing services to its members and on establishing itself politically, at both the provincial and the federal levels. In addition to creating its Web site, work was done to enhance internal and external communications. The Association also developed tools to improve the ability of its spokespersons to respond to crises attracting the attention of the media, as well as to respond to an increasing number of queries from members of the public. It also implemented a training program geared to the needs of practitioners and managers within the community network. Lastly, the Act respecting the Québec correctional system, which came into force in February 2007, formally enshrined the notion that community agencies involved in the field of criminal justice would henceforth be acknowledged as full-fledged partners of the Québec public sector. Since the early 2000s, criminal records have become an issue of particular interest for ASRSQ. In 2006, the Association initiated a collaboration process with the Comité consultatif pour une clientèle judiciarisée adulte (CCCJA) with a view to raising awareness about the impacts of a criminal record.

    The ASRSQ now represents 61 non-profit community organizations, as well as 2 coalitions of organizations active in providing assistance to persons having fallen foul of the law throughout Québec.