The federal government is cancelling the contracts of part-time prison chaplains, effectively eliminating non-Christian staff.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has mandated that the federal prison system's 71 full-time chaplains, who are overwhelmingly Christian, will provide religious services to all inmates.
Another 49 part-time chaplains – 18 of whom represent non-Christian faiths – will have their contracts cancelled.
In September, Mr. Toews's office nixed a proposal for a Wiccan priest to provide about 17 hours of service a month to inmates in British Columbia.
Groups representing religious minorities called on the federal government to reverse course, saying that eliminating non-Christian chaplains is discriminatory.
"We think that this is a contradiction of Canada's commitments on religious freedom and it runs completely contrary to promoting a pluralistic society," said Ihsaan Gardee, acting executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Canada.
Shimon Fogel, chief executive officer of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said the move "is not consistent with Canadian values."