Peter Hill is the associate vice-president in the programs branch of CBSA.
Anne Kelly is the senior deputy commissioner for the Correctional Service of Canada.
I am happy to have this opportunity to speak to you this morning on supplementary estimates (B). We are requesting these authorizations in order to continue to ensure the safety of Canadians, while protecting our rights and freedoms.
Before I get into the estimates, though, Mr. Chair, I want to take a moment to recognize that we are meeting this morning only a few days after Constable John Davidson of the Abbotsford Police Department was shot and killed in the line of duty.
In our jobs, we are privileged to meet police and other public safety officers and to deepen our appreciation of the difficult, dangerous, and absolutely indispensable work they do. We certainly share in the pain and in the profound sense of loss when an officer falls in the line of duty. I know that all of you join me in offering our sincere condolences to Constable Davidson's family and friends, to Chief Rich and his colleagues on the police force, and to the entire community at Abbotsford.
Now we turn to the matter at hand. The public safety portfolio in these estimates is requesting adjustments resulting in a net increase in authorities of $223 million. As always, our objective is to keep Canadians safe, while at the same time safeguarding rights and freedoms. In my remarks this morning, I will briefly explain how the authorities we are seeking in these supplementary estimates would do that.
The largest chunk of this funding will go to the RCMP, including over $60 million to implement the salary increases announced in April, which will be paid retroactively going back to January 1, 2015. We are also seeking over $28 million in integrity funding. I was pleased to note that the recent economic update also included an additional $100 million to support RCMP operations and the RCMP External Review Committee. This funding reflects some of the remedial measures that we took after the RCMP underwent over half a billion dollars in cuts between 2011 and 2015, to ensure RCMP members have the resources and support they need to keep doing their job of protecting communities and the country.
As you know, we've also passed Bill , to bring the RCMP labour relations regime into compliance with the charter and with a judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada. That will, for the first time ever, give members of the force the right to bargain collectively. That legislation received royal assent in June, and the process of certifying a bargaining agent is now under way.
As all members will know, two studies on harassment in the force were completed earlier this year, one by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission and the other by former Auditor General Sheila Fraser. Both of these reports are informing our way forward as we continue working to ensure the RCMP provides its employees with a safe and healthy workplace. Of course, that objective applies to every department and agency of the Government of Canada.
We've stepped up recruiting, with the RCMP training academy in Regina graduating 938 new officers in the fiscal year 2016-17. That's almost triple the number from 2013-14. The current year should generate another 1,100 new graduates, and then more than 1,200 in 2018-19. I've had the privilege of attending several graduation ceremonies at Depot, and welcoming Canada's newest Mounties to an organization with a long and proud history. You can be assured that I will keep doing everything I can to make sure that the RCMP's best days lie ahead of it, despite its fantastic history.
The RCMP is also included among the recipients of the $274 million over five years that we announced this past summer to support law enforcement bodies in their efforts to combat impaired driving.
In these estimates, Public Safety Canada, CBSA, and the RCMP are seeking a combined total of $20.1 million for the implementation of an initiative to build capacity to address drug-impaired driving.
We also recognize the importance of public education. That's why my department is seeking an additional $2.5 million to raise awareness about the risks and consequences of drug-impaired driving. This funding will support an upcoming advertising campaign to discourage Canadians, especially young and new drivers, from driving after using drugs. It will also build on a social media campaign we ran last March targeting young drivers and their parents.
Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada. This funding and the important new legislative measures in Bill are important parts of our efforts to prevent, detect, and punish impaired driving and to keep our roads safe.
Some $9.2 million is also being sought for the Department of Public Safety, the RCMP, and CBSA related to the new cannabis framework to be implemented next year. These include measures to ensure that organized crime is kept effectively out of the new legal system for dealing with cannabis and to beef up interdiction at the border.
Mr. Chair, we are also seeking authorities related to some of the extreme weather events Canadians have experienced this year. Severe flooding caused a great deal of damage to homes and communities in several provinces across Canada this past spring, particularly in Quebec and Ontario. As well, this summer's wildfire season in British Columbia was, as we know, one of the worst in recent memory. We are deeply grateful to the brave firefighters and other first responders who answered the call, as they always do, as well as the many ordinary—or, rather, extraordinary—Canadians who filled sandbags, volunteered at shelters, and generally stepped up to help friends, neighbours, and strangers in need.
When a natural disaster strikes, one of our key partners is always the Canadian Red Cross. The organization contributed greatly to a number of relief activities this year, including distributing immediate financial assistance to evacuees. We are pleased to contribute to the Red Cross, including $1 million to support its flood relief efforts across Canada this past spring and $38.6 million to support its relief efforts related to the B.C. wildfires. These transfers account for a portion of the total authorities we're requesting today.
Finally, Mr. Chair, the Correctional Service of Canada is requesting $12 million to address the needs of vulnerable offenders in the federal corrections system. Over 70% of male offenders and almost 80% of female offenders meet the criteria for some type of mental disorder, including substance abuse and misuse. To ensure that they receive proper care, you will recall, budget 2017 proposed investing $57.8 million over five years, starting this fiscal year, and then $13.6 million per year thereafter. These funds are for the expansion of mental health care supports in federal correctional facilities and follow up very specifically on advice we have received over time from the correctional investigator. CSC's requests for additional funding in these estimates are part of upholding this important commitment.
We also included in the budget over $110 million to support the reintegration of previously incarcerated indigenous people and to advance restorative justice approaches, and we have introduced, as you know, Bill on administrative segregation.
As you can see, we are focused on ensuring that federal correctional institutions provide safe and secure environments conducive to inmate rehabilitation, staff safety, and the protection of the public.
Mr. Chair, it's a big portfolio with lots of detail. I'll leave the detail at that and look forward to the next period with some questions.
Thank you very much, Minister Goodale. It's good to have you with us, along with your senior staff. Thank you for taking the time.
I would like to echo you personally and on behalf of my constituents in Mississauga-Lakeshore, in expressing my condolences on the death of Constable Davidson to his family, his colleagues, and his friends.
Mr. Chair, this is a year that has been marked by several tragedies and attacks within or against faith-based communities, beginning with the shooting in Sainte-Foy in Quebec City earlier this year and ending most recently with the tragedy in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
Minister Goodale, you have had the opportunity to address the committee on this issue before. It's an important issue. My community in Mississauga—Lakeshore has a very active faith-based dialogue at the moment, which my colleagues and I are engaged in along with the faith leaders. The security infrastructure program is one that remains of interest to many faith leaders, specifically, but not limited to, Jewish and Muslim leaders. Could you give the committee an update on the interest in this program, the recent expansion of this program, and where you see it heading in the months and years ahead?
Thank you, Mr. Spengemann.
The program you're referring to, the security infrastructure program, began several years ago. I think it's fair to say it began on a modest and experimental basis to see if it was of value for governments to invest in identifying community groups and organizations, often religious-based or culturally based, and other minorities that feel vulnerable, such as the LGBTQ community. It became clear that there was a very real need for this program to help the communities to identify their vulnerabilities and then to better protect their facilities.
As a result of our analysis of the small program that had begun, we felt it was justified to expand that program. We broadened the criteria. We regularized the intake process for applications so that they occur twice annually on a regular cycle, and now the funding can be used for a broader range of security activities.
We've now gone through two cycles of intake for applications, and I think it's fair to say that the program is fully subscribed if not oversubscribed.
A great many communities are making very good use of this funding to improve their security whether that's through fencing, closed-circuit television, lighting, protective materials on windows and so forth or through training their own folks on how to deal with security issues. It has been very well received. Announcements have been made across the country to a broad range of groups and organizations.
We will be monitoring the benefits of the investments to measure as much as we can how well those investments have served the community, but so far all of the signals are very positive except for the fact that it's probably oversubscribed, which is a good sign.
I want to echo the comments of the minister and Mr. Spengemann with regard to the condolences to Constable Davidson's family and friends, to the policing community in Abbotsford, as well as to the policing community across this nation.
Thank you, Mr. Minister, for being here, and thank you to your officials for being here.
I want to focus part of my questions on the immigration end of things in CBSA. Your government is committed to admitting nearly a million immigrants in the next three years. We've seen the impacts of Operation Syrian Refugees. We've seen the impacts, this past year, of illegal border-crossers.
Mr. Minister, you and I had some conversations at the immigration committee earlier this fall in which I suggested that the illegal border-crossers were causing significant pressures on staff, that the interview times had been reduced, that people weren't showing up for secondary interviews, that people weren't being located across the country, and that people were disappearing and were not able to be found. It caused some consternation, and people were curious as to whether public safety was at risk. You assured Canadians that public safety and national security were never at risk.
Although I would like to believe you, I'm not naive enough to suggest that this is completely the case. CBSA front-line officers aren't completely convinced of that, and neither are some members of the Canadian public.
Sometimes past behaviour is a predicator of future behaviour. A redacted version the CBSA's internal audit of Operation Syrian Refugees has been posted online. I've learned from those who have access to the unredacted version that there are some things that are somewhat troubling in there. Screening times have been reduced from 30 days down to 96 hours. Security screening was not done, or not done properly, in a number of those cases. Sometimes, the open source for screening was in fact social media; this was redacted from the document.
The audit recognizes that there were extreme pressures placed on the teams involved in Operation Syrian Refugees and that resources were working numerous hours of overtime in order to ensure the operation's success.
What is troubling is that removed from the report was the sentence that said there was a risk that the processing of Syrian refugees did not comply with key legislation or with the delivery instructions of OSR, which is the Operation Syrian Refugees program.
If that's the case, we know from CBSA's internal audit that the illegal border-crossers have caused interview times to be reduced from the normal eight hours down to under two hours, and that question 2 on the form for those coming into the country, about why they are seeking asylum in Canada, isn't even being asked.
With those things happening, Canada is expecting what some reports suggest will be a quarter of a million more attempted illegal border crossings.
My question, sir, boils down to where are you expecting the resources to come from to address both the increased levels of immigration and the increased levels of illegal border crossings? Front-line officers are telling us that this is having an impact on the normal flow of legal immigrants into this country. As my staff tell me and other MPs' staff tell them, the normal processes are backlogged significantly.
I'm just curious to know where in your budgets the resources are going to come from to try to meet the demands that we are being faced with in both the legal immigration process and the illegal immigration process.
Minister, thank you for being here. To the different agency heads and officials, thank you, as well.
I just want to go back to an issue I've raised with you before in the House, Minister, with regard to the current workplace climate that exists at CSIS and the lawsuit that is ongoing.
The last time I had the opportunity to ask you about it, you, of course, mentioned how seriously this was taken and you said that you would get to the bottom of things, which seems to me to contradict the submission that was made by CSIS essentially brushing away these allegations, saying the case should be thrown out, that there was no merit to it, or that the allegations were dealt with appropriately. Mr. Vigneault released a summary of a report that essentially says there is an issue, and employees do feel that management is not being accountable for these very serious allegations.
The first thing I'll do, of course, is to renew the call that I believe there should be a broader investigation into this. I just want to hear from you how you square this circle. On one hand, you say to us that these are very serious allegations, while on the other hand, a submission in court states that they have no merit and that the case should be thrown out.
Mr. Picard, thank you. This is an issue that goes right back to the mandate letter that I and a number of other ministers received about finding better solutions for dealing with the experiences of indigenous people in the criminal justice system. When you look at the numbers in the federal correctional system, while indigenous people make up 4% to 5% of the general population of Canada, they make up about 27% of the people who are incarcerated in the federal system and, I think, over 35% in the case of women. It's a serious problem.
The correctional system cannot deal with the intake of indigenous people. That's up to those who take previous steps in the judicial process, and my colleagues the Attorney General and Ministers and are focused on those issues. However, once a person arrives in the correctional system, the objective is to try our best to work with them and prepare them for a successful release from the system. Of course, the vast majority of people emerge from the system at some point. The critical question for public safety is whether they are ready and prepared to take up productive lives without further offending.
This funding that was identified in the budget—about $110 million altogether—is intended to address the pre-release preparation for indigenous people, to make sure they have opportunities that are culturally appropriate to rehabilitate themselves and to get ready for their release in ways that make sense from their cultural perspective. Part of the money, as well, is to ensure that once release has happened and they have an opportunity for parole, they have access to the services and the support systems at that point to make sure the release is successful and that they don't find themselves reoffending and back in the system once again.
The correctional investigator has looked at the statistics and concluded that generally speaking we do a better job of that process for non-aboriginal people than for aboriginal people. The investment that was announced in the last budget, consistent with the mandate letter, was intended to try to enhance our capacity to deal more effectively with indigenous offenders so that they can be rehabilitated more successfully, released appropriately, and can then have the kinds of experiences in their parole period that will ensure they are not in a position to reoffend.
Minister, thank you for being with us again today.
You and I have spoken in the past, as has this committee, about how sexual harassment in the workplace is simply unacceptable anywhere. We've all been troubled when we've read stories about places such as the RCMP or corrections, where it is still occurring.
Certainly, there's new legislation that the government just tabled on harassment in the workplace, and I know you have been seized with this issue as minister, so there are two aspects.
One is legislation, what we're doing about it. I also just have to comment that, as wonderful as it is to see Ms. Kelly here again, she remains the only woman at the table, and we know that changing the culture in all of the departments is critical. Having more women in leadership positions is critical to changing the culture within the whole organization. I wonder if you could speak to the legislation, as well as to what we're doing to attract and retain more women in positions of leadership in public safety.
It's a very good point, Ms. Damoff. One of the things, though, that I immediately observed when I arrived in this portfolio two years ago is the number of women within Public Safety in very senior positions. My former associate deputy minister, for example, Gina Wilson, was, I think, the most senior indigenous woman in the public service. As you know, she's now gone on to be the deputy minister at Status of Women, and I've lost her from this table.
Two of my ADMs are women. There are very senior women in the highest ranks of the RCMP. In my home town of Regina, Brenda Lucki, the assistant commissioner, is the commanding officer at “Depot” Division, in charge of all the training for RCMP officers across the country.
My deputy reminds me that I have four ADMs who are women, not just two.
I hear your point. We really do need to continue to focus on that. I'm sure you'll see that reflected as public service promotion decisions are made in the future.
On the issue of harassment, whether it's in the RCMP, in CSIS, the Correctional Service, or any other part of my portfolio, it is abundantly clear to the entire portfolio that that behaviour is unacceptable, that we have to work together in a concerted way to demonstrate that there's just no tolerance for this sort of thing, that when incidents happen, they must be very thoroughly and professionally investigated, that there must be consequences for the behaviour that caused or contributed to the harassment, and that the victims need to be properly supported and handled in such a way that they're not discouraged or intimidated from bringing forward their complaints or concerns. Then there need to be long-term plans to make sure this behaviour is rooted out and prevented from happening in the future.
Will we ever have absolute perfection? Sadly, given human nature, I suspect we won't, but we have to make it absolutely clear throughout the portfolio, throughout the department, and indeed in every aspect of government, which I think is the purpose of the legislation that was introduced by my colleague Patty Hajdu earlier this week, that this is a priority.
We are in 2017, and people have every right to expect that their workplace will be safe, healthy, and respectful, and that has to be priority number one for all of us.
Thank you, Minister, for being here today.
Mr. Motz raised fears over asylum seekers attempting to enter Canada illegally. The University of Calgary, which, to my knowledge, is not a friend of the Liberal party, has put together information based on analysis of IRCC data which I think puts things into context.
In 2017 it's expected that Canada will have 36,000 individuals trying to enter Canada illegally at our borders. In 2008, however, that number was 37,000. In the year 2000, that number was 38,000. In the year 2001, that number was 45,000.
What that says to me is that we have dealt with these challenges before, and I believe we're in a position to deal with these challenges again, but I want you to comment on that, sir.
That's some very useful context and history. I don't have the chart in front of me, but in fact those numbers are broadly correct.
We have dealt with numbers in this order of magnitude in the past, and our agencies—whether CBSA, the RCMP, or IRCC—have taken the steps that are necessary to put the resources in place to deal with the flow. It ebbs and flows. There have been some years as low as a couple of thousand and some years as high as 40,000. This year, it's obviously at the high end of that spectrum. We'll see what number we finally arrive at when we get to December 31.
Our officials working at the border have done extraordinary work this year and in previous years, however, to make sure that they can do two things; first, enforce effectively every Canadian law, which they have done; and second, make sure that we respect Canada's international obligations at the border with respect to asylum seekers and potential refugees.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees was just in town earlier this week and was very positive about the manner in which Canada has shown real international leadership in dealing with a very difficult problem.
I will answer first, and then I will give the floor to Mr. Hill.
First off, I think the minister's been clear on this question, recognizing, as you say, that every country has the right to establish the standards around which it lets anyone in. It wouldn't be appropriate, frankly, for us to counsel the U.S. about changing their approach, in the same way it probably would not be appropriate for them to counsel us on our approach on any of the issues we've discussed today or might discuss in the future about entry decisions that are made by the Government of Canada.
I will say, though, that on a regular basis, our American counterparts are well briefed. These issues are discussed at the highest levels with DHS. They understand the approach. We're continuing to encourage them, as they do with us, to be as welcoming and supportive of Canadians crossing the border into the U.S. as we generally try to be with Americans coming into Canada.
I'll turn to Peter on the specifics, if you want. That was just setting the broader stage that I think the minister has been on the record on quite clearly.
Thank you, Chair. That's a very helpful reminder.
I can lay out for you what is described as the policy rationale for the approach. You're absolutely right. It's well documented that the use of cannabis among youth in Canada is the highest or among the highest in the world. That trend has existed for a while and continues to...I guess the word would be “deteriorate”.
It's also true that the distribution system is dominated by organized crime. The knock-on effects of the funding stream, if I can put it that way, of that business model are well documented in terms of funding other activities of organized crime. There are links to money laundering, human trafficking, and prostitution, and there's an interplay between cannabis and other kinds of drugs.
The perspective of the government is that a structured, very deliberate regime of distribution—legalizing access to people the age of majority or higher—is an important part of allowing resources to be shifted to police and other organizations to combat the illegal network, as well as ensuring there is focus on the criminal networks that are associated with distribution.
It's probably not appropriate for me to use my “mowing somebody else's front lawn” analogy again. My colleague, the deputy minister of Health, is better placed to talk about the regulatory structure and regime they will be responsible for developing, but it will cover everything in terms of distribution and access. We've seen every provincial and territorial jurisdiction beginning to take steps in terms of their constitutional roles within a legalized framework. I can assure the committee that every step that can be taken is being taken by officials at federal, provincial, and territorial levels to ensure that everything that needs to be done is done when July of next year comes.