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Ladies and gentlemen, I call the meeting to order. I see it close enough to 3:30 to get ourselves started.
We certainly have quorum. I'm pleased by the enthusiasm that all members are showing for our time together. Let's hope our time together is not quite as long as the [Inaudible—Editor]. I'm counting on Mr. Motz to keep the Christmas cheer going here.
First of all, may I thank Mr. Paul-Hus for subbing for me on Tuesday? I'm told that the next motion is an impeachment motion for me.
I appreciate your standing in.
The analysts and I were down in Washington getting an education in American politics—
Thank you, Mr. Chair. Hopefully, my voice survives this whole process.
I want to say while I have the floor as I move the amendment that in seven and a half years as a parliamentarian, I have not seen a bill that has been panned by every single witness who has appeared before this committee, notwithstanding the minister and his officials.
That said, the amendments that I'll be presenting today, including this one, represent what the witnesses have suggested to us would be the best possible solution, again, notwithstanding that this is probably a bill that would be best thrown out and taken back to the drawing board. We'll wait to see what happens in the B.C. courts.
Mr. Chair, NDP-1 seeks to reintroduce language that used to be in the act prior to being removed a number of years ago. It was actually in Bill C-56, the original attempt this government made at resolving the awful issues related to solitary confinement, and is constitutional, but, as many witnesses said when it came up, should also be in the legislation.
That language is:
the Service uses the least invasive and restrictive measures consistent with the protection of society, staff members and offenders;
We will accept this amendment with the removal of “invasive and”. I would move an amendment that we remove the words “invasive and”, so that it would read “the Service uses the least restrictive measures....” I believe—and I could be wrong on this—that this is actually what was in the previous legislation. We would accept it with that amendment.
Mr. Chair, because of the terms of the motion this committee passed, which compel me to be here should I want to put forward some tandem amendments—and you'll recall that this motion is not one I requested or appreciate—I do want to mention that one of the terms of that motion was that although I don't move my own amendments because they are deemed moved, I do get to speak to them.
The effect of what we're talking about here is “least restrictive”, exactly what's in my amendment, so I just wanted to speak to it and support it.
This motion has two parts to it. One part is adding the words “sexual orientation and gender identity or expression” and the second part of it adds the words “visible minorities”. While visible minorities in the past would have been captured by other groups, it was actually my colleague Celina who brought this to our attention and suggested that pulling out visible minorities.... In fact, we struggled a bit with the words to use there because I don't think any of us love “visible minorities” as a terminology, but it's one that exists in law. We've settled on that.
The second part was actually Celina's initiative, and then adding the other two to that clause.
It's not that I'm opposed to the principle, but I think it's already there. We're talking about gender, ethnic, cultural and linguistic differences. That includes everyone, and this would be adding words for no purpose. That's just my opinion.
Chair, I'd like to move a subamendment to the amendment, because I think there's still something missing to make it more inclusive. That is to add after “gender, ethnic, cultural” the word “religious” before “and linguistic differences”. Then also further down remove the “or” and add “and” to make it more consistent with the human rights code that we're referring to, because I believe it's usually stated as “gender identity and expression” not “or expression”.
It's clear from conversations with MP Harold Albrecht and testimony from the John Howard Society and the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa that inmates don't have access to satisfactory programs to prepare them for today's labour market once they're released. Inmates are frustrated that the waiting list for programs and services is such that offenders serving long sentences can access those programs before those who are serving short sentences or are granted early release.
In a perfect world, all individuals would have access to the programs they need, but we know that's not the case. Consequently, we must give priority to preparing those who are released into society. That's why we're moving this amendment.
This makes a consequential amendment to clause 3 to make it more consistent with an amendment that I will be proposing later on as well with respect to mental health care review. It just cleans up the wording, so we should support it.
The idea here is to harmonize the English and French versions. The French version refers to the "unité d'intervention structurée". However, that concept is rendered in English by a single word, "unit". The idea here is therefore to state structured intervention unit in the English version, thus harmonizing the text as a whole by specifying the type of unit concerned.
On page 2, the second line of the bill deals with the situation of an offender being placed in a structured intervention unit. The decision is made, the way the bill currently reads, such that the offender's plan should
be updated, in consultation with the offender,
My amendment would have the effect of allowing the update to include other individuals involved in administering the programs and services to assist a prisoner. My amendment stems from some of the testimony from the minister, who said that it “depends on the individual, of course”, but the point is that if we don't make appropriate efforts at treatment, rehabilitation, and ultimately reintegration, people will come out of correctional facilities no better, or perhaps worse, than when they went in.
The goal of my amendment is to ensure a more collaborative team approach within that system. If the offender is in a structured intervention unit and if there has been a change in the plan, you consult with the prisoner, but you also consult with those other individuals who are involved in administering the programs so that they have updates on the prisoner's correctional plan.
While I appreciate the intent behind the amendment, I believe this is what is already happening now, with further investments being made in corrections to allow even more to be done in the SIUs. Already the parole officer and the primary workers would be involved in it, so I don't think it's necessary to add this to the bill.
When we look at the process as it's laid out here, including in proposed sections 37.3 and 37.4, we can make the assumption, I suppose. There is no question that the minister is ramping up and better funding the treatment programs and so on, but it doesn't appear that all of the individuals who would be part of those programs would be updated on the plan. It might be implied, but I don't see any harm in making it explicit that everyone who is involved in those treatment decisions, everyone who is administering the programs and services employed in that Correctional Service relating to that prisoner, is also updated.
Pam, in the day-to-day course, one would hope that everybody would be involved and updated, but my amendment seeks to ensure that everybody is.
If my colleague is right in her assertion that this will aid in the rehabilitation of prisoners, I would ask the officials to weigh in to determine whether this additional language would achieve that purpose.
In fact, to answer your question, the correctional plan for offenders would be updated under current practice with the concurrence of the entire case management team. That would include the parole officer or the primary worker dealing with that offender and also such other intervenors as health professionals, elders in the case of aboriginal offenders, and chaplains in other cases. It already is inclusive of other intervenors.
In reading the language, maybe a sub-question would be about the intent. Is it the intent that case management be involved, or is it really every single individual involved in the administration? At first look, that may involve dozens, or many, many people, which would essentially make it very hard to ensure.
We're still in the same clause, dealing with the same question.
The proposed section that I seek to amend now states:
in consultation with the offender, in order to ensure that they receive the most effective programs at the appropriate time during their confinement in the unit and to prepare them for reintegration into the mainstream inmate population.
My amendment adds “as soon as possible”. This stems from the United Nations Committee Against Torture. It's called on Canada to “limit the use of solitary confinement [to] a measure of last resort for as short a time as possible”.
This will require that the updates of the prisoner's correctional plan be tied to this objective of release back into the general population as quickly as possible. I hope you'll find it acceptable.
There's a gentleman by the name of Glen Brown, a retired warden and deputy warden, and I've had a conversation with him about his experience.
Officials can correct me if I'm wrong or if his assessment is wrong, but he urges that sometimes the rapid reintegration of inmates, as this entails, is not in their best interests. The current practice of preparing them for transition, as the wording said, should not be rushed. That's from a conversation with him, as someone who is in the business and has been in the business for many years.
I certainly would throw that out there. If this is all about the best interests and the rehabilitation of an inmate, then that's something we need to consider.
Thank you to members for passing that last amendment. It's much appreciated.
Again, this is dealing with the whole question of making decisions and updating plans. This was a suggestion from Senator Pate. As we know, she has had an extraordinary career and a commitment to the Elizabeth Fry Society in advocating for women in incarceration.
The suggestion is to add the following to the bill:
(2.2) The offender under subsection (2.1) whose correctional plan is to be updated shall be given an opportunity to make written representations to the institutional head before any decisions on program selection are made.
Again, this was to be in consultation with the offender, but other than being asked to sign that they've received the documentation, there is no meaningful involvement unless we add this amendment.
I would really appreciate consideration for Green Party amendment 4.
This one would apply when a registered health professional believes that a prisoner's death was due to natural causes and the natural cause is a chronic illness.
The amendment I'm proposing would require that health care professional to consider lifestyle changes or habits that could have managed that illness, in, for example, an illness like diabetes, and the extent to which lifestyle changes were restricted as a result of being confined in the unit. Again this comes from a recommendation from Senator Pate.
Again, I think the committee was already guided by this notion that we changed with the first amendment that was carried after it was amended. This reintroduces language of least restrictive measures, also present in Bill C-56. It was formerly in the “principles” section of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.
The amendment says that if a person is to be confined, the Correctional Service shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that the penitentiary in which they are confined is one that provides them with the least restrictive environment for that person.
That amendment achieves a goal that is quite similar to that of the first one that the committee just accepted.
We've moved to a different page, but that's okay; you can keep up. It's just line 3 on page 3.
This requires that we give priority to section 28 accessibility considerations in placement transfer decisions, particularly in the case of marginalized groups, women and indigenous prisoners. This is again on advice from Senator Pate, but it's also drawn from some of the conclusions of the coroner's inquiry into the death of Ashley Smith. This is from paragraph 58 of the coroner's inquest, the jury recommendation that female prisoners be accommodated in the region most proximate to her family and social supports. This principle is a priority for young adults and/or female prisoners with mental health issues and/or self-injurious behaviour.
Again, Kim Pate's testimony to the committee referenced the Supreme Court decision earlier this year. Disregarding the possibility that risk assessment tools are systematically disadvantaging indigenous prisoners is failing to abide by the statutory duty to use accurate information and to account for systemic discrimination.
Again, if it's a woman or a indigenous person confined to penitentiary, the service shall give priority to taking into account the accessibility conditions.
I'm going to speak to this, but you also have another amendment that talks about medical treatment and access to families.
While I recognize that has been an issue, in this one in particular you only refer to women and indigenous persons. I don't believe we're prepared to support the amendment. However, I would be prepared to draft a recommendation that it go back with the bill to the House, recommending that the Correctional Service examine—and I'll have to think of some wording here, so bear with me—the placement of offenders and the issues that arise because of proximity to family.
It is an issue and it's something that I think they need to look at. I won't be supporting the amendment, but I would be prepared to attach something to the bill when it goes back, recommending that corrections review that.
We did it on Bill C-71 as a way of highlighting an issue. In that case in particular, it was on provincial issues, but this is for something that we feel strongly enough about to bring to corrections. There's no obligation for them to do anything—
Ms. Elizabeth May: Yes.
Ms. Pam Damoff: —so I'm not going to try to oversell, but it would be publicly available, and it would also be something that people could reference if they go back to the bill and what was reported on.
Okay. Before I open debate on this amendment, I'll note that my initial reaction to this was that it was beyond the scope of the bill. However, I can argue it both ways, frankly, as to whether it's beyond the scope of the bill.
You have some tangential relevance to sections further down in the bill, but I think it's actually better for the chair to rule that this is still within the scope of the bill and to open up debate here, rather than ruling it as being beyond the scope of the bill.
I'm disappointed at your ruling at this point, but I would like to speak to it, because I think it's beyond the scope of the bill.
The bill doesn't deal with identifying any specific crimes and dealing with where they're placed. This is a bill on segregation issues. I don't see how bringing up this issue, which we know the Conservatives were hotly politicizing all along, at this time and in this place is appropriate. I'm sure they could bring it up at another time and in another place, but I don't see how it fits into this bill.
I agree with your ruling. I think there's enough in there about security classifications by the commissioner.
Excuse me. I hope my voice will make it through this meeting.
The Chair: I hope you and Mr. Motz are not sharing the same glasses.
Mr. Matthew Dubé: I hope not. We hope we're not sharing your glasses. I think that's the issue.
The other thing I wanted to add, Chair, is that beyond the question of whether it's within the scope of the legislation, we saw the result when the news came out on the situation having changed, and it's pretty clear that the corrections that were brought to the directives following the minister's review have obviously had the result that was hoped for.
I think some of the things that are put forward here are within those directives in language that I believe is more appropriate, so I will be opposing the amendment.
Based on the way the clause is written, the transfer decision would be made by a person in a senior position such that, if the decision were reviewed, it would be made by the same person since it was the most highly ranked person who made it. That would simply restore the order of the decisions. A transfer decision by a person in a senior position at the institution, but below that of the commissioner, could be properly reviewed by a supervisor.
This deals with a situation that I think everyone is painfully aware of, the transfer of prisoners. This is prisoner transfer we're talking about here in PV-8, at line 24 on page 3. We're talking about authorizing the transfer of a prisoner.
We know that in the case of Ashley Smith, the inquiry found that she had been transferred 17 times within the year that led up to her death. Transfers were primarily for administrative and capacity issues. They weren't part of any treatment plan.
The language of this amendment is taken directly from recommendations 59 to 62 of the coroner's inquest, to make sure that a transfer authorized under this section is subject to the following conditions:
(a) in the case of an inmate with health issues, to ensure continuity of care, his or her medical file must also be transferred;
(b) in the case of a female inmate with mental issues or disorders or self-harming behaviour, the transfer should only occur when it is safe to do so for health reasons;
(c) in the case of a female inmate transferred to a medical institution or treatment facility, the transfer should only occur when it has been approved by a registered health care professional and once a written plan is in place to re-integrate the inmate into her penitentiary following treatment; and
(d) in the case of a female inmate transferred to a penitentiary located away from her home, the transfer may be accompanied by the following measures:
(i) the inmate is allowed longer visits with the family members or support persons of their choice;
(ii) the inmate's means of access to family or support persons is increased; and
(iii) the inmate's family or support persons are provided with appropriate means of access when they are unable to visit the inmate due to financial reasons.
Again, this amendment comes directly from the recommendations of the jury in the inquiry into the death of Ashley Smith. I hope that the committee will consider accepting these recommendations and this amendment.
I spoke briefly to this situation before. We won't support the amendment. I'm in the process of trying to draft something to send back with the bill to ask the Correctional Service to look at this issue.
In the case of both amendments, we've heard about Liberals not supporting this idea and wanting to look at taking corrective measures and having it looked into. As Ms. May has stated much better than I could, the proposals mostly stem from two sources: first, from folks like Senator Pate, who have expertise that I certainly do not have, and so we look to them, and second, from the Ashley Smith inquest.
I think now is the time to put this into legislation and to cease studying it. This particular issue has been studied for decades now, and I think it's time to give it the power of law.
This is new language being proposed on clause 7, adding after line 24 on page 3 the following:
(2) A person who is sentenced, transferred or committed to a penitentiary may only be transferred to a penitentiary or an area in a penitentiary that has been assigned a security classification that corresponds to the security classification assigned to the person.
The reason for that is to make sure that the Correctional Service of Canada has a very clear mandate in rules around how facilities and inmates are treated. CSC should not be transferring inmates to different areas of the institution or to another institution that does not meet that classification and they don't mesh. It works both ways. Not only will we keep maximum-security inmates out of minimum- or medium-security prisons, but also the other way around.
Yes, it's common practice to the extent that correctional services may have what are classified as multi-level security units or institutions.
If I'm correctly interpreting what's being proposed here, inmates who didn't have a medium- or maximum-security classification couldn't be placed in a medium- or maximum-security institution. That would limit correctional services' ability to manage emergencies. Units may be assigned multi-level security classifications in certain cases to facilitate the management of inmates with various security classifications, while guaranteeing the highest security level for the general inmate population.
I'd like to just query that further with the officials.
The proposed amendment is not talking about having an inmate in a facility that has different classifications inside of it; it's making sure that whatever area of that facility the inmate is in matches that particular inmate's classification. You could have medium-security prisoners in a medium-security area of a maximum-security prison.
I guess my question would be this: Do you have cells, individual cells, in a medium-security prison that are flipped to the classification change—that is, a cell classified as a maximum-security cell or a medium-security cell inside of a prison that is of a different classification? The purpose of this amendment is to ensure the safety of inmates—and the safety of the guards, obviously—without putting inmates in a position where there is someone who should not be in a general population with medium- or minimum-security individuals in a maximum-security prison.
Maybe I can give you an example. We have regional treatment centres that we would classify as multi-level security institutions. They therefore manage offenders with various classification levels. What would change are the safety protocols around the movement of the inmate and the personnel there to ensure the safety and security of that inmate and of the others. However, the actual environment itself is multi-level.
Therefore, it's not the cell or part of the institution that is classified based on the individual, but rather the entire unit or institution. That's where I see concern in terms of being able to manage with a very specific designation as it is laid out.
This is similar to the other one. The new language, because there is no current one, is replacing line 31 on page 3 with the following:
any area in a penitentiary by taking into account the physical limitations and staffing needs of the penitentiary as well as the services it offers.
(2) The Commissioner must record the assignment of a change to a security classification in writing and notify the Minister of the proposed change at least 15 days before the change takes effect.
Bill C-83 seems to provide unlimited powers to the commissioner of corrections to reclassify institutions or parts of institutions. While this is perhaps a necessary use of authority in many circumstances, it should have checks and limits within it.
I think a very reasonable amendment is to put a limit on this. You can't [Technical difficulty—Editor] segregation unit unless it meets the needs of the type of classification. The government, through regulations, sets what these parameters are, and the commissioner has to operate within them.
That's the whole purpose behind this particular amendment.
Because of the example that was given, when an area would be reclassified, would the Correctional Service not have to make sure that it satisfies the requirements for that level of security or for that reclassification?
Essentially, there are criteria. There are standards established for various levels of security. Therefore, it's not just a matter of changing the label or the identification of the unit or the institution. There are security measures in place for maximum institutions that would not necessarily exist in medium or minimum institutions or units.
If I understood your comment correctly, indeed there are standards in place that would govern that and would not allow us to simply repurpose or relabel without ensuring that those are in place.
I submit that this isn't a necessary change in terms of making sure that the classifications are done and are suitable. That's within what's there already. This doesn't add anything to what we're looking for as far as safety goes.
If there's a change in static security requirements, there would be a change in the staffing levels and everything that would need to change with that security level.
Again, this is new language in clause 8, adding, after line 31 on page 3, the following:
(2) If the Commissioner plans to assign a new security classification to a penitentiary or to any area in a penitentiary, he or she must undertake consultations with nearby communities, staff members and any other impacted stakeholder identified by the Service.
(3) The Commissioner must record the assignment of a new security classification in writing, publish it on the departmental website at least 15 days before the change takes effect and notify the Minister of the change.
The whole idea behind this is that currently, the way Bill C-83 reads, it provides powers that are far too broad for the reclassification of facilities. As parliamentarians, we need to ensure that all authorities have the appropriate checks and balances in place. As we've seen recently with healing lodges and other prison transfers, there is a limited accountability of the service to local communities, to victims and the stakeholders. That is the motive behind this amendment: that public consultation is required when the commissioner wants to reclassify an institution. I believe it needs to be in law, not in regulations, so that it's set in stone.
Again, Mr. Chair, there would be the appropriate staffing changes and security changes made when a security change is made. This isn't really a necessary piece. It doesn't really add to this. In fact, the necessary protections are put in place if there is a reclassification.
If I heard that statement correctly, I guess what we're saying is that communities don't need to be advised if we change the classification of an institution from medium to maximum.
What we're saying here is that the communities have a role to play in the institutions that are in their communities. If they're not aware, how is that good for the community? How is that consulting the community? It just seems to fly in the face of common sense.
It seems to me we're imagining that lowering a penitentiary's security classification from maximum to medium would have no consequences for the population of the surrounding area, but the opposite is true. Consider, for example, a penitentiary that was assigned a medium or minimum security classification when it was established. If you want to increase the security classification of one part of that penitentiary to maximum, you'll have to conduct a consultation. That definitely doesn't mean the same thing for the population.
Inmate types differ depending on whether a penitentiary has a minimum or maximum security classification. A minimum number of things must be in place. There is definitely no impact on the neighbouring population if an institution's security classification is reduced, but that's not true if it's increased.
Thank you, Chair, as Mr. Motz and I continue our race to the bottom to see who will lose their voice first before the end of this meeting.
NDP-2 seeks to bring greater clarity to specify that any area that's being used for anything that in any way can be interpreted as segregation be deemed an SIU. This is to prevent the creation of similar areas that aren't required to follow the same type of review or accountability.
The example we have in mind is pod C at the Nova prison for women. We want to make sure that any time a prisoner is being in any way segregated, there are the appropriate accountability mechanisms, as lacking as they may be, provided by a law that is going into place. The amendment would add, after line 9 on page 4, a subsection that would read:
(2) Any area of a penitentiary where an inmate is segregated from the mainstream inmate population and is required to spend less time outside the inmate's cell or engaging in activities than an inmate confined in the mainstream inmate population shall be designated as a structured intervention unit.
This amendment seeks to, first of all, prohibit SIUs in women's facilities, which is probably one of the more ambitious parts of the amendment.
Currently there are only 10 women in segregation in all of Canada, and when Dr. Zinger was here, he said that he firmly believes we could immediately eliminate segregation in women's prisons altogether. He's obviously not the only one. Many stakeholders have expressed similar views.
The other issue is that it prohibits their use for individuals suffering from a serious mobility impairment or who are in need of palliative care.
The last part prohibits use of SIUs if it has been recommended by a health professional that the person, for their safety, not remain in an SIU. This would give actual legal force to not just having it be a recommendation from a health care professional, but actually making sure the full protection of the law is there with regard to health care professionals.
Chair, I want to mention the mobility impairment and the palliative care piece in going back to some of the arguments that have been made on a variety of amendments that have been presented.
We talk a lot about what the service's policies are, and I think it's important for the record that we distinguish between policies and law. Currently the policy prevents those with serious mental illness or disorders, for example, from being put into segregation, but it's just policy. It's not actually in the law. I think we can all agree that if we want to have the proper human rights protections in these instances, this should be in the law.
Naturally, as I said at the outset, this is a pretty ambitious amendment that seeks to go with the recommendations of many stakeholders, including folks like Dr. Zinger, who, as the correctional investigative officer, can be deemed to be quite reasonable. Quite frankly, I think all of the witnesses are quite reasonable on this issue. Even in the status of women committee, we've seen witnesses make recommendations to move towards this, given the way that women are disproportionately negatively affected by the use of segregation.
As your earlier ruling noted, several of my subsequent amendments will be eliminated if this one is passed. I wanted to speak to that quickly and say that this is based on a lot of very strong evidence, as Matthew has already mentioned.
I think the Canadian Bar Association point is really important: The bill should be consistent with the United Nations' Mandela rules and should require health care providers to recommend that conditions of confinement be altered or that placement in a structured intervention unit be terminated if the prisoner's mental health is deteriorating due to isolation.
In terms of the medical interventions, the role of the registered health care practitioner in Mr. Dubé's amendment and in my amendment is one that comes out of multiple expert witness testimonies to the committee from the John Howard Society, Senator Pate, the East Coast Prison Justice Society, Dr. Zinger—as Matthew already mentioned—and the CCLA.
I ask that we consider what it means to allow the process of segregation for a prisoner. If we don't have a medical health care professional able to intervene at key points, we may end up having legislation that is not as good as intended. We might have more Ashley Smith cases. I think it's really important to ensure that there's a medical health practitioner included, as recommended in the NDP motion and in the ones you've mentioned that I've put forward.
I'm wondering if officials could clarify something.
I thought health care professionals were involved in inmate care when they were in SIUs. When I visited the regional treatment facility, they told me at the time that it was the only place where the health care professionals and the parole officers worked on an equal footing. It was my understanding that this was how it would work in the SIUs as well.
Yes, that's correct. A health care professional is involved. Under Bill C-83, a health care professional could recommend the alteration of conditions or the termination of confinement, and the institutional head would have to take that into account. A health care professional visits daily, and health care advice has to be taken into account in any decision related to placement in an SIU.
I appreciate that answer, but I think that's just it. The issue is that it “could” be taken into account, but it's far from being binding.
I'll just read the key part of the amendment. Unfortunately, I'm feeling unable to read the whole thing. I want to save whatever voice I have left for later, but I do think this part is worth reading.
Subsection (2) after line 20 on page 6 would read as follows:
Upon receipt of a recommendation under subsection (1), the institutional head shall take measures to have the inmate removed from the unit.
Here we're making it explicitly clear that should the health care professional make the recommendation, it's not a matter of taking it under advisement; they must. I know “must” isn't the word I used there, but it's obviously pretty explicit in empowering the recommendations of health care professionals in this instance.
If the government is serious about wanting those medical professionals to be empowered, this is much more in line with that, and certainly with what we've seen in a variety of arenas, whether the United Nations or the Ontario and B.C. courts.
My amendment, PV-22, is really quite explicit in saying that if the medical health care professional finds that the situation is deteriorating, it's not just that they have the option of saying something; they shall. They shall report. They shall say something.
Then if the institutional head receives the recommendation from a health care professional that the inmate who is confined should be removed from the unit, they shall act. If the institutional head receives a recommendation that the conditions of confinement should be altered, the institutional head shall take measures to alter them. If the institutional head does not follow a recommendation made by a health care professional, they will have to explain the reasons in writing to the registered health care professional and to the inmate.
These wordings are much stronger and much clearer, and they could have prevented Ashley Smith's death.
I didn't stop to explain to the committee this time around that PV is Parti vert, but you probably knew that. The government gave me that because when we first started having me come to committees, it was under Harper, and so “G” would have been good for “green”, but they were using “G” for “government” then.
That will happen some day, Glen. I know you laugh, but still, that's why I'm Parti vert. The “GP” would have been taken as “government party”.
I wanted to tell you that story by way of an explanation.
That's our purpose, just as it is for all other parties.
Now let's talk about amendment PV-9.
This one is an attempt to respond to the word “appropriate”, which many witnesses, particularly Senator Kim Pate, found to be a very vague approach to drafting. As she noted, it does not provide any protections to individuals and will essentially leave it to the courts to set the standards.
My amendment—not to read it all out to you—replaces “appropriate” with “least restrictive” measures and adds a requirement to provide a living environment at the lowest security level required for public safety.
This is again in the same vein as what's been expressed when we talk about “least restrictive”. We're looking here for SIUs to be a measure of last resort, really making it clear that we don't want to see systemic and banal use of them, which has unfortunately been the case far too often over the last number of years.
The bill would be amended by replacing line 11 on page 4 with the following: “(a) provide, only as a measure of last resort, an appropriate living environment for an”, and then it would go on.
I believe this amendment is redundant. Proposed section 33 of the bill already establishes that the inmates' confinement into an SIU is “to end as soon as possible”, which implies that it's a measure of last resort.
This one is for purposes of deleting vague wording in order to provide more precise wording.
There was testimony from Josh Paterson as well as Senator Pate and others that correctional investigators observed that this was accepted as well by the trial court. There were a lot of other reasons that went beyond security that folks were winding up in administrative segregation, including punishment, which was supposed to be under an entirely different regime. I've replaced “or other reasons” with “for security reasons”.
I feel quite strongly about this one, in the sense that I brought it up when BCCLA was here. There was a real question as to what this proposed section 32 means and how it works with proposed section 34, which follows later in the bill.
There was a misunderstanding. Proposed section 32 sets out the purpose, but proposed section 34 is very clear that a transfer into an SIU is to occur only if the commissioner is satisfied that there is no reasonable alternative, and then it has listed reasons.
The only possible way we could get rid of the “other reasons”, if we were reading it in the way that it seems to have been read by some, would be to transfer all of the wording from proposed section 34 in there to replicate it again, but it's not necessary, because proposed section 34 uses the word “only” and it has listed reasons. I don't think it is necessary, and in fact if we were going to start making these amendments, we would have to add a whole lot more wording up into proposed section 32 to make up for it.
I support this amendment and have a similar one—one where I put some water in my wine after that, in keeping with our tradition here at this committee.
On a more serious note, I do remember Ms. Dabrusin's line of questioning. I believe that when we use the words “no reasonable alternative”, we still run into the issue that has been raised, which is that if there is a lack of resources, the commissioner could make the determination in the event that an inmate meets the criteria outlined in proposed paragraphs 34(a) and 34(b). For example, if there are no psychiatric services—which speaks to the correctional investigator's report—it could be deemed that because of a lack of resources, there is no reasonable alternative than to put an inmate there.
Notwithstanding that language, I think the same problem exists. For that reason, I'm supportive of both Ms. May's amendment PV-10 and also my amendments further on that are in that same vein.
I don't want to too heavily belabour the point, but it goes on. I wasn't going to read out the whole section, because we'd be here for a while; it's a long one.
Proposed section 34 doesn't say only “no reasonable alternative”. It goes on to say, “and the Commissioner believes on reasonable grounds that”, and then it has enumerated grounds.
It's actually pretty clear in its wording, and none of this says “no available psychiatric services” as part of it. It's listed in proposed section 34. We need to understand that proposed section 32 sets out the general purpose of what they're doing, but the transfer is clear, is mandated and is listed in proposed section 34.
There are so many issues with that comment, with all due respect. Let's look at proposed paragraph 34(b), which states:
(b) allowing the inmate to be in the mainstream inmate population would jeopardize the inmate’s safety;
Who's jeopardizing the inmate's safety? It could be because the person has mental issues and finds himself or herself drawn into violent altercations such that he or she does need psychiatric services.
Proposed paragraph 34(a) talks about someone who has acted or intends to act in a manner that jeopardizes safety, and so on. Again, there's no protection that says that in the event that they don't have resources to properly treat an inmate who may meet any and all of these criteria, quite frankly, and who actually requires proper help, an inmate will not be put into an SIU, which is essentially solitary confinement.
There are all kinds of points there that are of concern, and this in no way alleviates that concern. If it did, I'm sure the witnesses would have said as much.
Amendment NDP-5 is similar to the amendment Ms. May just proposed, except that I'm adding key elements that were raised in the questions I put to witnesses and in the exchange we just had. We want the bill to state clearly "for security reasons other than the lack of staff members or cells in the penitentiary."
At the time—it was during the last Parliament, if I'm not mistaken—this committee had tabled a report addressing the overpopulation of certain penitentiaries, which had led to violent incidents and could result in inmates being transferred to segregation cells. The shortage of officers is a resource problem that was raised many times. We want it to be expressly stated that inmates must not be confined in segregation as a result of a lack of staff in the penitentiaries.
I should mention at some point while I have the floor that I have to be in House for a bit of private member's business, the introduction of second reading of Bill S-203.
I know my amendments don't need me here, because they're deemed to have been moved. I'd appreciate it if the Liberal members of the committee would argue my amendments for me in my absence and convince themselves that they're really good while they do it. I'll try to keep my absence to a minimum.
In PV-11, what we're looking at right now is the existing amendment. The existing language talks about opportunity. I'm trying to ensure with this amendment that we respond to the witnesses, many of whom pointed out that an opportunity that can't be used, an opportunity that doesn't provide for meaningful human contact, isn't a real opportunity.
I've brought in this language of “meaningful human contact” and “a reasonable opportunity”, instead of just “opportunity”.
I like the idea of a reasonable approach. However, since the word "meaningful" isn't defined in any general way, I'm afraid the effect might be the contrary. In other words, a reasonable approach could lead an institution to determine that the desired level of reasonableness has been reached after a single step is taken. In that case, no additional effort would be made respecting that exchange.
I propose that we not support this approach in order to preclude any limits on procedures. However, we will address this issue later, perhaps in a little more detail.
In a rare show of support, I have to agree with Mr. Picard. We don't know what “meaningful human contact” means, so to change it from “meaningful” to “a reasonable” would be...what? There's really no definition of either one.
I don't know if we're substantially changing anything, Ms. May. I don't know.
If I may, Mr. Chair, it's for the structure of the bill, of course, that I'm putting in the amendment for “meaningful human contact” in my eleventh amendment.
My twelfth amendment provides the definition, and the definition comes from wording.... It's quite interesting that one of the only countries where we could find a definition of “meaningful human contact” is Ireland. We've drawn the amendment from that. It was recommended very strongly by the Elizabeth Fry Society, the John Howard Society, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the East Coast Prison Justice Society and so on.
The definition of “meaningful human contact”, for instance, suggests that you're close enough together that you can have a conversation, that you're allowed to have a normal direct physical contact that is not mediated by such things as bars, restraints, security glass or screens. It's sustained and intentional.
That's the longer definition. I don't need to read it in now. If it were a concern for accepting the language that we don't have a definition, we will have a definition if you're prepared to go along with these amendments.
Moving on to the definition of “meaningful human contact”, I think I've already spoken to it. In the interests of time, I'll remind you that this is language that comes from Irish rule 27 of the Prison Rules and from the testimony of numerous witnesses.
I appreciate the amendments that Ms. May brought forward. I think that having that definition was very clear. It's unfortunate that it was defeated. I'm happy to have voted in favour of it.
That said, I know that the next amendment, if I'm not mistaken, from Ms. Dabrusin, is very similar. That's something that I wholeheartedly agree with. It adds a record-keeping requirement, which I would support, so I will withdraw mine and support LIB-3.
What really stood out for me when I was reading the cases from Ontario and B.C. was all the stories of people only having contact through the meal hatch. This was an important factor for the judge in both cases, and certainly in the B.C. case. I saw that the Ontario legislation never received royal assent, but it did go through three readings and had a section that dealt with the fact that contact couldn't be through a meal hatch, except if there were security reasons or other valid reasons. In that case, however, you would have to provide a reason.
It seems inherently reasonable to me that we presume that you do not have contact just through a meal hatch, but that if for some reason that wasn't possible, you would have to provide reasons so that there's an explanation people could verify.
Julie, I understand the logic behind this; it makes sense. I'm trying to limit the amount of record-keeping—and the officials can certainly weigh in on this—because there are a lot of interactions that happen in a penitentiary. You're walking by, and they ask a question or they need a lighter. It's whatever it might be that happens through that. Every time you do that, do you have to make a record of that? It seems to me it flies in the face of what you're trying to say. What you're trying to say is that the meal hatch is not your meaningful human contact.
If that's what you're trying to say, then maybe we need to change the language and not be restrictive on correctional services so that every time they have contact that way, even though it may not be part of that meaningful human contact and may be for some other minor purpose, they don't have to keep a record of it. It would be very cumbersome to do it that way.
What you're asking for makes sense, as long as “I need my smoke lit” doesn't mean they have to write it out, or whatever it is.
A second subsection would be added to section 32. I'd just like to ensure that we are very cautious. Even if we change the terms, a structured intervention unit is still a place where inmates are subjected to a form of segregation. From what I understand, this would be different, but the fact remains that it would be a sector where the most dangerous inmates are subjected to segregation, although some individuals might ask to be sent there as well. There are conditions, but I wonder whether we should define them more clearly. We can't simply say that human contact must automatically be permitted in the structured intervention units. Some individuals must be deprived of that, and that's why they're confined in segregation.
Are the terms used to define the conditions clear enough? Can our friends at the end of the table confirm for me that the idea behind establishing a structured intervention unit is for it to serve as a place of segregation, in various forms as cases require? If we want to afford these people human contact other than that provided through the meal hatch, I understand the idea. However, despite what's being proposed here, I believe some inmates can't be put in contact with others, even if they're in chains.
Is it clear that the conditions prevent that, that they prevent us from being required under the act to afford certain individuals human contact? A prisoner could claim he's entitled to human contact under the new act. The worst of them might invoke the act. Wouldn't that be a problem? Do you understand what I mean?
I think it's important to note that this amendment proposes that “every reasonable effort” will be made. It's not a requirement. The purpose of a structured intervention unit, as its name says, is to have interventions to address the root cause of the safety risk that put that person there. Not every person going there is a huge safety risk. Some are there because they feel safer. Some are there because there are investigations under way.
Because of the intent of a structured intervention unit, I think it's very reasonable to think that every reasonable effort would be made to ensure that those interventions were without barriers. The intent is strong enough that you would want to take note of those situations in which they were not able to do it.
This is based on a lot of evidence, particularly from Dr. Zinger. It restores certain procedural rights for the inmate. It really will work better in a situation where the offender has been designated by an independent or outside reviewer.
In order to ensure procedural rights, I'm replacing lines 19 and 20 on page 4 with something much longer. I could read these out, but I think I'll just summarize them as procedural rights for the inmate.
This basically sets out an internal review scheme in some detail, requiring hearings at essentially every decision point relating to maintaining or not maintaining an inmate in SIU. To that effect, the bill already includes multiple oversight mechanisms, including independent internal decision-making throughout the placement. In my submission, it's not something that's required; it's already there.
In addition, the minister, when he appeared at the committee on November 27, expressed support for creating an independent external review mechanism for individuals in SIU who do not take part in programming.
Therefore there are protections, in my submission. I understand the aspiration of this set of hearings, but these changes are not required. It's overly onerous in light of the requirements that are already there.
The purpose of this amendment is to specify that this tool must be used only as a last resort. It states that this measure, the confinement of inmates in this unit, should be applied only "if there is no reasonable alternative... and is to end as soon as possible."
I'm wondering if the officials could comment, because I think this is somewhat redundant. The bill already refers to decision-makers at CSC needing to be satisfied that there are no reasonable alternatives. I'm wondering if you think this is necessary, or if it's already covered in the bill.
In this amendment we're trying to be ambitious on two fronts: applying the Mandela rules relating to the number of aggregate days in a 365-day period, and going back to Justice Arbour's recommendation for judicial review.
I didn't have time to finish debating the minister on that point, but I don't believe it's something that requires royal recommendation or I imagine I would have had a ruling from the chair on this front. I will ask for a recorded vote.
The amendment would read that Bill C-83, in clause 10, be amended by replacing line 20 on page 4 with the following:
unit is to end as soon as possible, and may never be, subject to subsection (2), for more than 15 aggregate days in a 365-day period.
(2) The Federal Court may, on request by the institution head, authorize the confinement of an inmate in a structured intervention unit for up to an additional 15 aggregate days in a 365-day period, as long as the aggregate days of confinement of the inmate in such a unit, irrespective of the penitentiary, do not exceed 60 in the 365-day period.
Briefly, I'm going to repeat what my colleague said earlier about what the minister said when he appeared before committee. I recognize it's a leap of faith to accept the oversight that would be coming at report stage, because we haven't seen it yet, but I am making that leap of faith and I am confident we can add independent oversight into it.
I appreciate what the member is trying to do here, but I won't be supporting it.
I just want to say that Justice Arbour's recommendation dates back to when I was in elementary school. I'm not saying that to be glib. I'm saying that to demonstrate how long-standing this issue has been.
I think it's pretty clear from the minister's comments and his inability to provide me with an adequate response that he has already prejudged what he believes this will look like.
Both Bill C-56 and Bill C-83 have had nothing in terms of proper independent review with any kind of teeth. Moreover, I think the very fact that the government is appealing the B.C. decision has just left a bunch of bread crumbs that do not allow me, unfortunately, and with all due respect, to make the same leap of faith. I believe, from what I've heard from witnesses, what I've read and what I've heard Justice Arbour say many times over the years, that this is the way to go.
At the end of the day, I go back to what Justice Arbour articulated as the reason here: The minute you start going beyond a certain number of days without this type of review, you're actually influencing sentencing. You're changing the punishment that has been brought out by a court of law on an individual.
I understand that circumstances can change within a prison, but unfortunately, history has borne out that this has been abused and has gone against the way our system is supposed to work. I believe this is the only way we can properly correct that abuse. Having heard witness testimony, and through my own discussions with stakeholders, that's what I believe.
Unfortunately, on this file, with the dithering we've seen from the minister, both with his actions in appealing the decision through the Department of Justice and in his own testimony, I just do not have that same faith.
In this amendment, which is somewhat similar to the one that was defeated, we're recognizing that the legislation is putting in the four-hours rule, the Mandela rule, but because of the broadness of the exceptions, it could very well be that you actually end up not getting that amount of time. You could actually have 22 hours a day in confinement under this legislation, and that would end up qualifying as solitary confinement under Mandela rules and would therefore not be acceptable.
We know that when you're dealing with prisoners who are dealing with mental health issues, any amount of confinement can be much more devastating than for inmates who don't have mental health issues. It can be psychologically harmful, as the Prisoners' Legal Services brief pointed out, “for prisoners with mental disabilities for any amount of time, and after 15 days for anyone else.”
My amendment sets out ways of ensuring that if you've been confined for 15 consecutive days, you're not allowed to be returned to confinement without an in-between period of five days, and that if you've been “confined in a structured intervention unit for more than 60 aggregate days within a 365-day period”, that will also trigger that you've had well above what would be acceptable.
They'd have to watch the aggregate in 365 days, watch the 15 consecutive days, and then also look at other, less restrictive programs to ensure that something is working that's more appropriate for the inmate.
The amendment comes from the same witnesses that I've drawn most of my amendments from, the ones who have the most experience with the prison system and are worried that this bill doesn't meet its intention of ending solitary confinement. These time limit caps would go a long way toward ensuring this legislation really did end solitary confinement.
Mr. Chair, I appreciate the level of attention that the amendment places on the needs of the inmate with respect to the number of days. My point would be similar to the one I made under PV-13, which is that internally there is already a set of oversight mechanisms in place—independent internal oversight—and externally, Minister Goodale made a statement on November 27 expressing support for creating external oversight. Ultimately, this level of attention is the right level, but the protections are already in place for the inmates through the two systems I've described.
(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])
I was almost deciding I had to go to private members' business, but since I have a chance, this is to emphasize the use of SIUs as a last resort rather than a front-line response. It requires written reasons for including alternative options and how they've been explored, and requires that the inmate be provided with a copy of the transfer order.
Senator Pate said there are no requirements, for example, in this bill that the commissioner state what other measures were considered and the reasons they were not considered reasonable. This would help ensure that the segregation units are actually considered only as a last resort, not a front-line response.
I'll leave you with that, and I hope that's enough to persuade you.
Following up on what Ms. May said in respect of her previous amendment that she talked about, I agree that it's very important for procedural fairness that there be a record kept of the transfer and the reasons for transfer, as well as any alternatives considered in making that decision. It's essential for the person to know why they have been transferred and for this information to be provided within one working day after the transfer so that they have the reasons for the decision.
It's a matter of procedural fairness. It's been raised by other witnesses. I hope everyone will support this amendment.
(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The excesses that can be committed over the four hours that inmates may spend outside their cells have been debated at length. We respect inmates by affording them this opportunity from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. In so doing, we prevent individuals from going out at 2 a.m. This allows for a reasonable and proper schedule.
I want to add an amendment. I don't know how this would be added in, but I think we are missing the “reasonableness” here. I do have an amendment in this same vein later on, that the opportunities.... I appreciate the intention of adding the times to be helpful, but I think some of the issues that were raised were about more than just the time of day, so I seek some guidance here, perhaps.
I don't know if the proper way to amend it would be to say “a reasonable opportunity” in each case or to add a paragraph (c) and say that the opportunities in paragraphs (a) and (b) be reasonable. I don't know what we can do to add in that word.
I actually am a little concerned that adding “reasonable” in there might have a detrimental effect. I'm just looking for clarity. I don't disagree with the member at all, but if we add the word “reasonable”, does it give people the opportunity to say “No; well, we made every reasonable effort and we couldn't do it”, whereas if we specify just “opportunity”, is that more powerful than adding the word “reasonable” in there?
Well, that's just it. We want it to be more narrow. Right now, having a broad definition is where we are open to the opportunities being insufficient to meet the intentions of the bill and the kind of time that's being offered to these individuals.
I actually think we're on the same page. I'm concerned that adding the word “reasonable” would allow someone to say that they made every reasonable effort and it wasn't possible. That's my concern with adding that in, whereas right now, without that in there, they have to be given an opportunity.
I'm just concerned that it opens it up to actually make it worse for the prisoners and not better.
I have some concerns with the amendment. I like the “reasonable” and I have a reason for that, which I will explain.
However, I have some concerns about the “every day between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.”
We have a lot of smaller medium-security and minimum-security institutions in which we may have a problem with an inmate. Let's just take the case of the Grande Cache Institution in my area. There may be some problems that force you to move all your inmates into one area. It could be because of an electrical failure or a fire or a gas leak.
Now, you can't mix the two because it might be very violent. “Reasonable” gives an opportunity for the institution to make a reasonable effort, and I think it's very sensible, because there are circumstances we're not going to think about that may arise. By not having “reasonable” in there and restricting them to those times...maybe they can't do it, and it's impossible. Now you're making a law saying they have to do it even though they can't.
I just wanted to see if this would add some clarification to the exchange between Ms. Damoff and Mr. Dubé.
Part of the confusion was around the fact that the “reasonableness” requirement isn't part of sentence 1. If it was “the service shall take reasonable steps to provide an inmate with an opportunity,” one could question whether or not they would actually carry it through.
Mr. Dubé is concerned about the possibility that an inmate might be sent outside in a snowstorm at minus 25 degrees and told, “Here's your opportunity to spend a couple of hours outside your cell.”
I don't know if that's the point of contention, but I have a sense it might be.
I shouldn't weigh in on debate here, but it seems as though we're talking about two separate things. If the word “reasonable” was after “the service shall, if reasonable, every day, send out,” etc., then “reasonable” would be a problem.
I'd like to raise two points. The first concerns reasonableness and reflects what several witnesses have said. They said they're afraid that correctional officers, out of a lack of trust or experience, will abuse their power and adopt the attitude that granting available hours isn't reasonable in the circumstances. A set schedule leads an institution to make the necessary effort to do what must be done within a suitable timeframe.
The second point concerns what Mr. Eglinski addressed. I don't think we're talking about the same thing. We're talking about treating inmates in an integrated intervention unit in a respectful manner. If a problem arises, such as a natural disaster, a power outage or something like that, common sense dictates that the institution won't take into account the established schedule or the time in the decision it makes.
Mr. Picard, that's where the problem lies. Common sense isn't the same for everyone; we can agree on that.
We're speaking from an operational point of view, and I'd like to know the officials' opinions. There could be problems in this area. People say the idea is to show common sense, but can an inmate, in real life, file a grievance to say that this doesn't work? How does it work from an operational standpoint?
I'm going to repeat what's already been said on this subject. The addition of the word “reasonable” provides a factor that must be assessed in deciding whether to grant the opportunity to leave the cell. I think the intention stated in the bill is clear enough.
I just want to get clarification from the officials.
If I heard you correctly, you're suggesting that the language currently in the bill provides for a lot more flexibility. It's still allowing the inmate to receive the time that the bill sets out for being outside their cell and for activities, but prescribing a time may not be necessary, given the flexibility that already exists in the current language. Is that what I heard you suggest?
The member has a right to present his amendments. He could read them out, for all we care. He doesn't even need to have them in writing. It's obviously a courtesy.
We set an amendment deadline. We got amendments from Liberals this morning, as well, with little to no notice. At some point, if he just wants to move his amendments....
I understand the sense from the member. I have to leave at 5:30, as I have other commitments. Someone is going to replace me. I don't get to move my amendments. That's just the reality of government ramming through legislation. If Mr. Motz wants to read his amendment for the record, we can just take it from there.
I don't think that's the issue, though. The issue is whether we want to suspend while people look at this new stuff and then come back and plow on with it, or whether we want to just move forward. I think we're actually making fairly good progress.
No. The committee decides how quickly it will do that, but the chair has the prerogative of extending hours when bills are before the committee.
I sent a note to everybody earlier in the week saying that there would be a reasonable anticipation that we might go beyond 5:30. We are at 5:30, so the simple question is whether you want to suspend for a few minutes while you absorb these new amendments or to keep on moving forward.
In the interest of peace, order and good government and the desire to have peace, order and good government, I apologize for confusing you. The clerks had assigned a number, CPC-2.31, to reference number 10222178, and that confused Mr. Motz.
I sincerely regret confusing Mr. Motz, although it does seem to be a fairly easy task.
I would move this new language after line 21 on page 5. We're suggesting, or moving, that the following be added:
(1.1) The institutional head may, after consultation with qualified persons, develop alternative means to fulfill the obligation referred to in subsection (1) if those means mitigate the impact of confinement in a structured intervention unit on the mental health of inmates while improving the safety of persons or the security of the penitentiary.
We have written in absolute rules and attempted to define a meaningful relationship for human contact under the law, which is challenging without consideration of its being a prison. Bill C-83, though, doesn't leave much room for considering alternative treatments in the future, which is concerning. I believe that if a technology comes along and we universally accept that meaningful human contact can be achieved, thus meeting the terms of the act while being implemented through other means, the act should be ready for that.
Therefore, I would move that the minister and correctional service staff have the ability to implement new technologies or systems to meet the requirements of the act.
This amendment essentially clarifies that time outside a cell proposed as an SIU would be a minimum, and that the service would have to actively increase time outside the cell wherever possible, as well as document that these opportunities outside of the minimum time are offered.
Mr. Chair, Ms. Sahota had to leave, but I'll move it in her place.
Members have the amendment in front of them. The effect of this amendment is to essentially provide a clear definition of the other reasons or “prescribed circumstances” when opportunities for time outside of the cell or for interventions or programming may not be offered to inmates in a structured intervention unit.
The purpose of this amendment is to indicate that prisoners should not be denied the minimum time outside of the cell due to lack of staffing. It is to ensure that staffing is available to make sure that prisoners are able to get the minimum required time.
I move that Bill C-83, in clause 10, be amended by adding after line 15 on page 6 the following:
37.11 A staff member may recommend to a registered health care professional employed or engaged by the Service that the professional assess the mental health of an inmate, if the inmate
(a) refuses to interact with others for a prescribed period;
(b) exhibits a tendency to self-harm;
(c) is showing signs of an adverse drug reaction; or
(d) is showing signs of emotional distress or exhibiting behaviour that suggests that the inmate is in urgent need of mental health care.
This came about through discussions with the correctional officers and through debate here at committee. Correctional officers are not medical staff, but they seem to be relied upon to provide medical assistance on numerous occasions. The service needs a mechanism to refer individuals who need help to those who can help.
It should be clear in law that this is a power and ability to refer this issue to someone equipped and trained to deal with it. It should be clear that correctional officers who are not medical staff are not going to be relied upon to deal with these issues that are beyond their expertise.
I just have one suggestion. In the first line, it could be “a staff member or a person engaged by the service”. That's just to specify that there are those who are not employed, but rather engaged by the federal service.
Mr. Chair, I will move it for her, and I believe there's a subamendment afterwards.
The members have the amendment on front of them. The effect of the amendment is to add two subsections after proposed subsection 37.3(1), as subsections 37.3(1.1) and 37.3(1.2). The clarification being made is, “Before making the determination, the institutional head shall visit the inmate.”
The amendment would also add a new subsection 37.3(5), which states: “No later than 24 hours after the visit, the institutional head shall provide the inmate, in writing, with the reasons for the decision.”
If we're removing the 24-hour time span, if something comes to the attention of the institutional head and it happens at one o'clock in the afternoon on a Tuesday, he has until the end of the day on the following day to deal with it. That's one working day.
Is that how you would interpret adding “one working day”, as opposed to “24 hours”?
I'll happily move this one as well, Mr. Chair. Again, members have the text in front of them.
This amendment creates an additional safeguard for inmates by requiring an additional review at a more senior level, if the institutional head does not accept a health care professional's recommendations.
Thank you so much, and I appreciate all your patience with me.
One of the concerns we have is this is going to end up with a patchwork of review mechanisms. If the minister is really serious about establishing something else with a royal recommendation, reviews made through this process are unlikely to be considered independent, as defined in the B.C. court decision. I just want to make sure that.... That's one of the concerns we have.
Mr. Chair, in reply to Ms. Blaney, the conversation we had earlier captured the fact that on November 27 the minister committed to the creation of an external review mechanism, which would address in part the concern you're raising.
It reads that Bill C-83, in clause 10, be amended by replacing lines 31 to 38 on page 7 with the following:
nation under paragraph 37.3(1)(b) that an inmate should remain in a structured intervention unit, the Commissioner shall, in accordance with the regulations made under paragraph 96(g), determine whether the inmate should remain in the unit. The Commissioner shall also make such a determination in the prescribed circumstances and every 30 days after the Commissioner's last determination under this section that the inmate should remain in the unit.
Now I did interrupt a vote to do that, and probably I shouldn't have, but nevertheless that's what we voted on. I believe we've taken the vote in favour.
I actually like the amendment, but I have concerns about someone who has a health condition, for example, and can't go into a body scan. I'm wondering if the officials could comment, and also if there was wording that would cover the situation if the offender is not able to go into a body scan or if they choose not to.
I think we'd need to spend a bit more time to think of accurate wording to reflect your concern. There are other issues to think about as well, in terms of the definition of “available” and what that means.
Essentially, strip searches are currently available under the act. My understanding is that under Bill C-83, they would continue to be available.
To reiterate, the concern is about what this would mean if there are medical conditions, or if the body scanner is at the front entrance and we're moving an inmate from one area to another where a body scanner isn't present. What would this mean in terms of how we would operationalize this?
I'm not trying to be crude here, but will the X-ray machine or the equipment we have in our institutions be able to show cavities of a person walking through on the screen, and what's hidden in the private parts of their body?
This would be further prescribed as is laid out in the bill. There are a number of technologies available.
We're looking at something similar to what is used in airports. It would essentially identify a problematic area and suggest a secondary review at the threat risk assessment, but not necessarily show a detailed view of the human body.
The scenario that I'm seeing is that something does show. You're saying here, by bringing this section into play, “No routine strip search of an inmate may be conducted if a body scan search is available.”
What do you do if you see something, then? You're saying you can't do it. You're contradicting—
I don't think the amendment works at all. The intention was to provide that the body scan search replaces the strip search. However, if the scanner finds something, a search has to be done. So that doesn't work.
You have it in front of you. I won't go through it and read it all.
We heard from the Native Women's Association of Canada. They provided the suggested revised language to the act. I see no need to put 100% of the power into the councils or chiefs. I think the ability of the Correctional Service to work with whomever to help rehabilitation and reintegration should be clear.
This is very similar to NDP-15. I would ask the officials to tell us which makes the more sense.
I think we all have attempted to put a definition in place that will further define “indigenous community”. I'm wondering if the officials could comment on the more lengthy definition put forward by the Conservative Party.
Yes. On the definition of “indigenous community”, Mr. Motz is correct that it was put forward by the Native Women's Association of Canada. We have put forward a definition that's much shorter. I know you can't speak to that, because we're not there yet, but I'm just wondering if you can comment on any issues that might arrive from being as prescriptive as this definition is.
I think the prescriptiveness of it means that some indigenous leadership groups may not fall within this definition. It would limit which groups could be part of an indigenous community. Recognizing that Bill C-83 actually refers to indigenous “organization” rather than indigenous “community”, that definition wouldn't apply to what we have: indigenous organization.
I would like to respond to the question that was asked earlier about the two amendments, the Conservative and the NDP.
I want to clarify that for the one we put forward, we actually had extensive discussions with the native association for Canada and also the aboriginal legal society. There was a great amount of discussion. The amendment that we proposed, which will be up next, was seen as a bit more fulsome.
I move to amend Bill C-83 in clause 23 by replacing lines 6 to 10 on page 11 with the following:
lndigenous community means an organization, a community, a band, a tribal council, a nation or any other group with a predominantly Indigenous leadership.
I further move to amend it by adding after line 14 on page 11 the following:
predominantly lndigenous leadership in relation to a group, means a group—the majority of whose board of directors are First Nation or non-status First Nation, whether residing on reserve land or not, Métis or Inuit—that advocates for culturally appropriate and community-based alternatives to confinement for Indigenous inmates.
As I hope everyone in this room appreciates deeply, this is important terminology to have moving forward.
I'm happy to suspend. Is that the will of the committee?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: Now, before I do that, please note that a vote on NDP-15 applies to consequential NDP-18 and NDP-19. If adopted, PV-30, PV-33 and PV-36 cannot be moved. This is just so that we all know what we're talking about.
Thank you, Chair, and thank you for your indulgence.
We have a definition that's been put forward by the NDP—and Mr. Motz put one forward that was similar—which came through a number of organizations. I really would like to get clarity on this wording of “Indigenous community”.
I know that when we were drafting the bill.... I've had a number of discussions with the department as well to come up with wording that will allow organizations to be able to enter into agreements with the government while also respecting that we want these to be indigenous organizations. We don't want someone to hang up a shingle, throw their name on it and be able to run a healing lodge, for example. It needs to truly be an indigenous organization, and it's a challenge.
Because there are ramifications with regard to other bills and to other things the government is doing that we may or may not be aware of, what are the implications of changing the wording that we have in the bill now to “indigenous community”?
Thank you. I'm going to talk a bit about what was done in Bill C-83 with respect to the definitions.
Subsection 81(1) of the act is amended by replacing the term “aboriginal community” with “Indigenous governing body” and “or any Indigenous organization”. The reason is that when a contract is entered into with an indigenous community, it can't be with the “community”; that's not an entity you can actually enter into an agreement with contractually. In fact, it's the “indigenous governing body” and an “indigenous organization”, so that is the change that we made in the act.
It would not allow the specificity that we believe Bill C-83 clarifies, which is that when the CSC is entering into an agreement with a community, what they're actually entering into is an agreement with the indigenous organization or indigenous governing body. It wouldn't give us the clarity that we believe the bill has at this point.
The “organization”, then, would encompass the other groups: obviously “organization”, which is already here, and “community” would also probably fall under “organization”—would it? That one I would have trouble with.
Yes, the idea is that we're just clarifying who is actually entering into the agreement. An agreement or a contract must be linked to the appropriate authority. The “community” is not who enters into the agreement for the community, on behalf of the community; it's the indigenous organization or indigenous governing body.
Okay. In your opinion, would the wording we have now, “governing body” or “organization”, encompass the intent of what has been put forward here in the amendment? You're adding new wording that isn't anywhere else, right? We don't have “indigenous community” anywhere else.
We do have “indigenous community” in other sections, so that doesn't change. We're not removing “indigenous community” from other sections. Specifically, proposed section 84 states:
If an inmate expresses an interest in being released into an Indigenous community,
That doesn't change. We have changed the word “aboriginal” to “indigenous”, but that will still remain, and that does not necessarily encompass what is proposed here. It is for my policy colleagues to speak to the policy, but from a strictly legal standpoint, you still have “community”, so I'd have to turn to my colleagues as to whether that would reflect the policy.
Well, when you think of the provision that someone would be released into an “indigenous community” and we look at the definition being proposed here, you would then be saying that someone would be released into a tribal council, for instance. It would create some awkwardness in other parts of the act to use this definition.
In the second part of this amendment, it says, “predominantly Indigenous leadership” and then that is defined. When we get to the amendment I put forward, we've left it at just “predominantly Indigenous leadership”. Can you comment on any negative consequences of providing such an explicit definition?
Currently in the CCRA right now, “aboriginal community” is defined, and that includes an organization or other group with “predominantly aboriginal leadership”. There is no qualification on what “predominantly aboriginal leadership” is. It's unqualified beyond the words, and if we were to adopt that, it would take on a different legal interpretation. You would have to meet the strict factors that are set out here.
Of course, it's a policy determination whether you wish to do so, but it will change the legal meaning of an indigenous—
I have a couple of the questions. It seems to me that the minister is the individual who picks and chooses the groups. You talked about this definition sort of meaning a bigger deal than I think, because if the minister gets to pick, then why is it a problem to have the word “community”? The minister still gets to decide who they're going to create partnerships or working relationships with in this way. I'm just wondering if you could clarify that.
I'm just coming at it from a strictly legal standpoint, which is that this provides clarity in the act that the entity to whom those arrangements are being entered into on behalf of the community is the indigenous organization or governing body.
The other question that I have, and one of the things that the former member just said, is that you want to make sure that it's not just somebody who puts up a sign that says, “I'm an indigenous organization”. By making it stricter, does that increase accountability?
In the definition of “indigenous governing body”, we do refer to the fact that an indigenous group, community or people holds rights recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act. It's not just wide open for someone to put forward as you're suggesting.
Section 35 doesn't include all indigenous communities. I just want to clarify that as well, because this sort of broadens the definition a little bit. Moving forward and looking at the direction that we're trying to move forward in this country, I don't want to leave people out who could do that important work. Section 35 doesn't encompass that, so how do we remedy that?
My understanding is that the wording that's been put into the bill now expands greatly the number of groups or organizations that could come forward to create a healing lodge. For example, we heard about one that's proposed for Toronto, certainly some place where one would be needed, and that organization, provided it's an indigenous organization, and if the amendment I put forward passes and the majority of the leadership are indigenous, then they would be able to come forward and enter into an agreement with the government.
That wouldn't be able to happen at the present time. This will allow it to expand the number of organizations by adding in that we have the organization or governing body. We're putting it in place that we have more opportunity for organizations to contract with the government, because you're not contracting with communities. That's what I'm hearing.
My understanding is that what you would be doing is, if we're talking about the proposed amendment that's coming up, it would state that the definition of an indigenous organization is one with “predominantly indigenous leadership”. That would be consistent with what is currently in the act. It certainly would not be restricting what's currently in the act, because the definition of “aboriginal community” includes indigenous organizations with “predominantly indigenous leadership”. Given that's the proposed amendment, it would be consistent with that and certainly not limit it in any way.
I apologize. I had both Bill S-203 and the late show. Now I'm back.
This amendment is very similar to the one that Rachel just put forward. It deals with the question of instances of an indigenous governing body, so that we are able to ensure that people who are in what might be considered urban indigenous groups.... Other things that might not be covered under the act we think will be all right, with the exception that I propose changing the word “aboriginal” to “indigenous”.
This was a particular suggestion of the Native Women's Association of Canada. We want to ensure that we are recognizing the indigenous status of a particularly vulnerable group that is disproportionately represented in our correctional system.
I think I said most of it when I was asking my questions. I think it's very important to recognize that the intent of adding the wording “predominantly indigenous leadership” is to recognize the concerns that we heard at committee and that we heard from stakeholders, and to incorporate that into language that will also be enforceable within the act and usable by the government when they're contracting with outside organizations.
I think everyone in this room is on the same page in terms of where we want to get to. I think we just have a different idea of how we need to get there. Based on what was said by department officials and the lawyers, which I'm not, I believe this will serve the intent of the things that we heard at committee. With that, I hope everyone will support it.
This amendment is that Bill C-83, in clause 23, be amended by replacing lines 15 and 16 on page 11 with the following:
79.1 In recognition of the systemic discrimination Indigenous offenders face in the correctional system and the Service's obligation to advance equality in correctional outcomes for Indigenous offenders, the Service shall, when assessing an Indigenous offender' s needs in order to make a decision under this Act affecting the offender, take the following in-
Again, in my opinion, this something that we just need to do. I hope we have support.
This is again looking at the question of how Gladue principles inform actions, but there's nothing in the current legislation that actually puts those principles into practice. This would ensure that the Criminal Code Gladue provision will be incorporated into BillC-83. It's a very simple amendment. It's one that is supported by the Native Women's Association of Canada, by Aboriginal Legal Services, and by Lois Frank, who gave evidence before this committee as the Gladue report writer from the Alberta department of justice.
This is meant to ensure that the National Aboriginal Advisory Committee as well as regional committees work to develop the other factors required to fulfill the principle found in paragraph 4(g) of the CCRA . This paragraph ensures that the Correctional Service also is responsive to the needs of marginalized groups, particularly women, aboriginal groups, or people dealing with mental health issues.
This amendment is drafted to deal with the exact concerns we heard about regarding the misuse of Gladue reports.
I was quite happy to see in the bill when it was introduced that indigenous history and Gladue reports would be taken into account, but we've heard during our study at status of women, and I've heard when speaking with individuals, that those reports are sometimes not provided to institutes because of how they are used, and also that they are used to assess risk and not the needs of the inmate.
This amendment specifies that the legislation says it must be taken into consideration. This amendment will ensure that any decisions made based on that will not be used to assess risk posed by an indigenous inmate.
This is to establish an advisory committee. It's a proposal from Senator Kim Pate that the minister shall establish a national indigenous advisory committee. The minister establishes it instead of the Correctional Service of Canada.
I appreciate the intent behind it. I think that it's important that there is arm's length in creating these advisory committees. When you're asking for the minister to do, it you're bringing in a political aspect. I don't think that's a good idea.
This addresses concerns that we heard about elders and spiritual leaders being.... It's that the Correctional Service of Canada needs to seek advice when it's making decisions. In particular, it was the NWAC that recommended that we integrate spiritual leaders into the health care, but this is also important in a variety of places in corrections.
This will address that. When appropriate, or if CSC determines that it's appropriate, it will seek advice from an indigenous spiritual leader or elder.
I just want to note that I think that if this passes—and I hope it will pass—my amendment.... I don't know if the clerk has pointed this out, but I would interpret my amendment PV-35 as being substantially the same. I would hope that this does pass. I think that it is something that came up in testimony, and it will be very useful.
I'm not allowed to withdraw my amendments because I'm not a member of this committee. I'm only here because you passed the dreadful motion that I continue to hate. However, I have no role here to remove my own amendments. They are deemed moved. However, I wouldn't mind if you passed Pam's amendment, which is really good. Then you don't have to talk about mine and hear me complain yet again about the fact that the smallest party in the House is continually punished by the largest party in the House.
If the clerk hasn't removed it, it's because the insertion of “their own elder” is in here as a possibility. That's the distinguishing feature between the amendment that you just passed and PV-35. I think they're both really great.
This is an amendment to ensure that the non-registered health care professionals to whom a registered health care professional has delegated tasks must be under ongoing supervision. This is based on research from the Library of Parliament that was entered before the committee: that non-registered, unregistered, unlicensed health care providers who deliver services require more supervision than they are currently receiving.
In the same vein as my previous amendment, this amendment provides a definition for supervision so that when we're talking about the supervision of a non-registered health care professional, we're able to ensure that supervision meets a standard of direction, support, guidance, evaluation and follow-up.
(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])
This adds that spiritual leaders and others must be made available as an option as health care professionals at the prisoner's request and that meaningful consultation must be done with communities to ensure that they are culturally appropriate to the prisoner.
(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])
This is based on evidence, again, from Senator Pate, who found that in this section the word “support” does not constitute an enforceable standard and is vague as a word. What I've offered is to provide the word “respect” as opposed to “support”, and hope that this word is less vague.
(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])
This is to clarify that the overall assessment and determination of an inmate's health status and care planning, interventions, and evaluation of care are the responsibilities of registered health care professionals and cannot be delegated to a non-registered person under their supervision.
This was specifically the Canadian Bar Association's concern that clinical decisions should only be taken by health care professionals under the Mandela rules.
(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])
89.1 The Service shall, subject to security requirements, provide access to
I'm sure as MPs your offices as well as mine heard from Joanne Kehayas, who recommended that health care should be based on need, not on the designation of the facility by the commissioner.
She recommended that access be based on what is deemed necessary by a health care professional and with safety taken into account, and I believe that this would improve the bill by providing access to health care to those who need it based on medical advice, while still ensuring that safety is taken into account as well.
The language provided here is from our drafters at the House, who worked long and hard to get this done. Obviously some bills are more important than this one, because we were late getting this looked after.
I welcome the comments of our justice and corrections staff on this particular language before we vote.
Maybe we could have a clarification here. We're talking about patient advocacy services, and as I understood your presentation, you were referring to health services. Those would be two distinct issues.
We are seeking to provide patient advocacy services where the commissioner designates those services that would be available. Safety and security are paramount features of the act and the bill; therefore, it would not need to be repeated.
Therefore, in our view, the amendment is not required.
This one is also one of the recommendations from the Ashley Smith coroner's inquest, which is to say that sometimes you need not just family members but support persons. I'm using the language “support persons” to augment what might be considered family to help inmates who need contact. It's clear it would have made a big difference in the Ashley Smith case.
LIB-6.1 is an amendment that is really a consequential amendment to more explicitly and clearly reflect the regulation-making authority related to the structured intervention units and to update it with the health review committee. It aligns with the way the policy is supposed to work.
Chair, I just move that we make an amendment that Bill C-83 in clause 31 be amended by adding after line 27 on page 14 the following:
(2.1) Paragraph 96(v) of the Act is replaced by the following:
(v) for the organization, training-including training related to mental health and to safety-discipline, efficiency, administration and good management of the Service;
This came to light when Stanley Stapleton was here, the national president of the Union of Safety and Justice Employees, who suggested that additional training was needed within the institution, especially with the new sorts of guidelines coming into place under section 83. We would like to add that the training become part of section 83.
I think there's general agreement that additional training should be provided. There was $448 million to go into corrections in the last statement, but I don't think adding it into the legislation is the right way to get it done.
PV-42 has the same rationale as my earlier amendment, PV-7, to ensure that the factors determining security classifications and subclassifications include that we consider the proximity to families when inmates are being moved, and that we consider their specific needs when an inmate has a mental illness or disorder, or a history of self-harming behaviour.
As indicated here, we've recently seen the movement of inmates from medium-security to minimum-security facilities. Reclassifying facilities to get people moved to other facilities is not a good public safety policy. The inmate moving to a minimum-security facility should be a minimum-security-rated inmate, as we indicated before.
Maybe it would be better if the chair read it first. Then we can decide whether it's admissible or it's not. Let me see what I'm apparently ruling on.
The issue here is parole boards and the fact that parole boards are not part of the bill itself, hence beyond the scope of the bill.
Before you try to challenge the chair, I just wanted to give you some rationale for why the clerk's advice has been that this is beyond the scope of the bill and therefore inadmissible. Having said that, the chair would be open to a challenge.
The officials are apparently waving their hands, jumping up and down and saying they want to say something.
Again, before we let Ms. Dabrusin make her challenge, let's see what the officials have to say.
With all respect, I would say that there are two things to consider when you are making your decision.
One is that the major tenet of this provision is about “least restrictive measures”. You've just passed two amendments dealing with least restrictive measures, and you would want to have consistency throughout the act.
As well, one of the provisions in Bill C-83 dealt with audio recordings before the parole board, so in fact we have opened up provisions relating to the parole board.
I don't want to belabour this point. I'm perfectly willing to put it back on for discussion so that I don't get creamed twice in one day, because there does seem to be a will in the committee. Let's go back to square one and have Ms. May introduce PV-43.
Where does that leave me? It's a bit backwards. That's why I did what I did: it was included by mistake, which Ms. May confirmed. However, this is an opportunity to rectify mistakes, and we're rectifying a mistake in a mistake.
I don't want to belabour it because it appears to have good support, but I would say that the “least restrictive” language was included in Bill C-56. It was previously absent in Bill C-83. You now have put in “least restrictive measures” in a couple places. This does ensure consistency. Also, it is congruent with advice from many of the witnesses. I won't take time at this late hour to remind you of all the witnesses who think this is a good amendment.
From what we heard from witnesses, we all know that this bill is deeply flawed and poorly conceived. I think that despite having a lot of time to develop it, it was rushed at the last minute, which is why no one was consulted and why no one supports it.
Beyond that, given the minister's commitment is to get back to us on how this will work, how the money promised will be used—where it will go—and more suggestions that we blindly approve this bill, at the very minimum I believe it is beholden on us to put in a requirement that the minister, who said to trust him and that he'll let us know how the money's going to be used, does actually get back to us and tell us how that money is actually going to be used.
Specifically, this amendment requires the minister to provide the specifics on his SIUs—the physical requirements for the structures, which he told us would be different from segregations—the cost of meeting those requirements, and the schedule to implement those regulations. That's the gist of the amendment.
Michel, you would probably want the same thing if our minister were that blasé in his position. I would expect you to be.
I move that Bill C-83 be amended by adding after line 30 on page 16 the following new clause:
Report to Parliament
40.1 Six months after the day on which this section comes into force, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness must assess each penitentiary to determine the changes that are required for the penitentiary to meet the physical requirements established under this Act.
(2) The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness must cause a report of the assessments to be laid before each of House of Parliament on any of the first 30 days on which that House is sitting after the day on which the report is completed.
I won't read it. This is that the commissioner is required to conduct a review of the SIUs implemented in this act in three years, and provide that report to the minister and to the correctional investigator. The minister will cause that report to be tabled in the House of Commons no later than 30 sitting days after its receipt. It's specific to the review of the SIUs.
Mr. Chair, I'd like to move that we attach a note to the report stating that we wish to make known the following points.
After the study of Bill C-83, the committee wishes to highlight the opposition members' disapproval of this flawed bill and report the following to the House.
They report that the committee’s role is to review legislation, using all the information needed to make informed decisions but that the minister has withheld information deemed by members of the government, opposition and witnesses to be essential in determining the effectiveness of the legislation—namely the cost and implementation of the bill.
Furthermore, members of the committee have decided to provide blind faith in the minister despite the role of the committee to hold the minister to account.
We want the House to be made aware that this legislation was deemed by witnesses and members as incomplete without any costing or implementation and should not proceed without a detailed plan and explanation from the minister.
I think that should have been moved after we completed the consideration of Bill C-83. I was just partway through, and Ms. Damoff was asking a question about an additional report to the House beyond the bill.
The bill has to be reported independently. If you wish to add a report of commentary, you can do a committee report of some kind. You may wish to pursue that. I don't know.
I am about to finish here.
Shall the committee order a reprint of the bill as amended for the use of the House at report stage?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: I want to first of all thank the officials for being here. This was a four-hour session, and we appreciate your patience and your diligence and your knowledge. It's been very helpful to the deliberations of the committee.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
The Chair: I want to make a commentary on the pressure that we're putting on drafters.
This has been a bill that's under a certain external pressure, shall we say, and the drafters will be literally working all weekend to have it in shape for Monday.
I'm wondering whether there is any appetite—you don't have to answer this question immediately—for the clerk—or the chair, for that matter—to write to the Speaker and hint that possibly more assistance should be given to the people who support us so well.
This is not an isolated event. Legislative clerks are under enormous pressure to produce product. As you saw over the course of the four hours, if the legislative clerk is not right on top of things, it gets very confused very quickly.
Can I see an indication as to whether that's appropriate?
We'd like to add to the report. After the study of Bill C-83, the committee wishes to highlight the opposition members' disapproval of this flawed bill and report the following to the House:
- That the Committee’s role is to review legislation, using all the information needed to make informed decisions
- That the Minister has withheld information deemed by Members of the Government, Opposition, and witnesses to be essential in determining the effectiveness of the legislation—namely the cost and implementation of the Bill
- That Members of the Committee have decided to provide blind faith in the Minister despite the role of the Committee to hold the Minister to account
- That the House be made aware that this legislation was deemed by witnesses and Members as incomplete without any costing or implementation and should not proceed without detailed plan and explanation from the Minister.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), your committee has considered Bill C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Act and wishes to make the following recommendations to the government:
First, given the testimony that the committee heard from the correctional investigator and other stakeholders, and the fact that there are only 10 women currently housed in administrative segregation units across the country, the committee strongly encourages the Correctional Service of Canada to consider alternatives to segregation in women's institutions such as the pilot program proposed in 2016 by the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies;
Second, that the Correctional Service of Canada examine the placement and/or transfer of an inmate to a facility far away from their home or community and the impact of the transfer on the inmate's contact with family and an individual identified by the inmate as a support person.