The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak today in support of the bill in front of the House. It is an important step in the reformation and the improvement of our criminal justice system, in particular, our corrections facilities.
The proposed legislation will eliminate the practice of administrative segregation where inmates are confined to their cells for all but two hours a day, with little or no contact with other people and, most important, with little or no contact with rehabilitative programming, which is fundamental to the restoration of their presence in our society.
Under the new bill, people who need to be separated from the general inmate population for safety reasons will have at least double the amount of time out of their cells and they will have access to programs, interventions, mental health care and meaningful human contact with staff, volunteers, elders, chaplains, visitors and other compatible inmates.
This is good policy and it is also necessary in light of two court decisions declaring administrative segregation unconstitutional, which are scheduled to take effect in the next few months.
In addition, the bill would enshrine in law the clinical autonomy of health care providers in the corrections system. It would create patient advocates, called for through the Ashley Smith inquest, to ensure people in correctional institutions receive the medical care they need. It would also codify the principles stemming from the Supreme Court's Gladue decision, which requires systemic and background factors be considered in decision-making, particularly when it involves indigenous inmates.
This is fundamental to ensure that the majority of inmates who eventually return to society after they have served time are reintegrated in a healthy way, in a productive way, in a human way, in a compassionate way so recidivism is reduced if not eliminated. The absence of these interventions historically and the impact of the absence of them on indigenous peoples have been catastrophic. The rate of recidivism is one of the challenges we have to deal with as a result of the problems we face by not providing this care inside corrections facilities.
The bill would also gives victims the right to an audio recording of their parole hearings, whether or not they attend in person, and it also allows for new search technology to be introduced to the system to once again keep inmates safe and, in this case, corrections officers safe as well.
Bill would make correctional institutions safer, and it will make all of us safer, because we are all better off and better protected when people who have served their sentences return to our communities prepared to lead safe, productive, law-abiding lives.
The response of the Conservatives to the legislation is incredibly disappointing. They have almost made a parody of themselves. They put out a press release on Tuesday that called solitary confinement “common and legitimate” despite what the Supreme Court said. For a party that prides itself on law and order, members sure have a tough time listening to the orders of the court system, especially the Supreme Court. It is a pattern.
In other words, the Conservatives go right past arguing that segregation does not meet the international definition of solitary confinement. They are now saying that solitary confinement in and of itself, which the United Nations calls torture if it lasts longer than 15 days, is a good thing. They are not interested in trying to minimize or restrict the use of segregation in Canadian prisons. In fact, they would be fine if it were routine and more widespread. The Conservatives apparently yearn for the good old days of medieval dungeons.
As someone whose parents are Australian, the relationship we have to the corrections system as a culture in the country where my family comes from is a little different. The lack of compassion for the conditions in the prison system traditionally led precisely to recidivism in Australia. The Australian prison system was one of the harshest on the continent at the time it was in operation during the period of transport and the punishment destroyed people's lives.
The corrections facility is not about destroying the lives of people; it is about protecting the public. It is about rehabilitating those who have offended and focusing on reintegration, because not every sentence is a life sentence. When convicted individuals return to our communities, we have a responsibility to try to make them safer, both to themselves and to society at large.
The Conservatives are back in the period of transport as far as one can tell. I do not know where the member who made those statements received his criminology degree, if he has one, but I would bet he is referring to a phenomenon that is being reported by people who are homeless. There is a belief somehow that people try to get into jail because it is so nice. It just is not true.
The reality is that the poverty people are subjected to, the lack of a housing strategy, the lack of supports for people, particularly indigenous people in urban settings, is one of the reasons people have no alternative to prison systems at times. However, no one wants to be in jail. People want an opportunity to have good health and to lead productive lives. The corrections system has to respond to this. We cannot, we must not and we should not make it worse for people, because the impact on the larger population will be present one day.
If the Conservatives, who now suddenly seem preoccupied by poverty and the lack of housing are really focused on these issues, I invite them to support the national housing strategy, the poverty reduction strategy. I invite them to support the initiatives and the advancements we have made in indigenous housing, health care and education. We create a safer country by ensuring we do not have crime to begin with. However, when people fall afoul of the law and end up in corrections facilities, we have a responsibility as a society and as a country to make things right and to ensure that when people are released from corrections facilities, they do not present an even greater danger to the public.
When we listen to the Conservatives focus on razor wire and bars and not on the rehabilitation of people who have made terrible mistakes in some cases, we are left speechless as to how they are making society safer through a rehabilitation program. It is not just about punishment; it is also about corrections. That is why the system is called a corrections facility.
One of the things we are investing in through this program is ensuring that the prisons and the correction facilities themselves are safer places for guards to work. When segregation is overused and is used as a tool of punishment, the prisons become more dangerous. It is not fair to corrections workers to jack up the system in such a way that their lives are put at risk as they go about doing their critically important work.
The Conservative public safety critic has caricatured these new units by saying that the inmates will be invited to cuddle together in the exercise yard. The way in which the Conservatives talk about the corrections system is beyond the experience of anyone I have ever talked to who has been through it. Nonetheless they perpetuate these myths and they do so at the expense of not only the correction facilities, but also the officers who work there and ultimately society at large.
The truth is that the proposed legislation will create units that are highly structured and secure and within these secure settings, inmates will interact with staff, volunteers, elders, chaplains and visitors. They will get the health care they need to become more productive citizens upon release. They will only interact with other inmates if compatible and that interaction can happen safely and is part of a restorative justice process. It is about making people safer and making our country safer.
The Conservative critic also said in his speech that the current system responded to the needs of prisoners. It does not. More important, it does not respond to society's needs.
We need safer communities and that means reintegration has to be a focus of correction to ensure that when people are released, they do not do more harm to communities.
Most people incarcerated in our federal prison system have some combination of mental illness, addiction, a history of physical or sexual abuse and an upbringing in poverty. None of these excuse the behaviour that put them in jail. If people break the law, they face the consequences. Sentences are real.
However, while they are in custody, we can either leave them to languish in conditions that might aggravate their problems and make them more dangerous upon release or we can take measures within a secure correctional environment to reduce the risk they pose and increase the safety of our communities.
Bill is all about that. It is why it has my strong support. It is why we are focused on ensuring that the criminal justice system is not just tough on crime, but is also smart on crime. We are using the best practices from around the world to ensure we have the best results after incarceration.
Absolutely, people should be jailed for serious crimes. Nobody disagrees with that. Anybody who pretends there is a party in the House that disagrees is fooling folks. The reality is this. When individuals are released from prison, when they are exited from corrections and they are reintegrate into society, we have a moral and a legal obligation to ensure they do not reoffend. That requires us addressing mental health issues, addiction issues and other underlying issues which might have been part of the factor as to what put them in prison to begin with.
This is a good bill. It deserves the support of all parties in the House.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be joining the debate on Bill . I have been intently listening over the last few days to the debate and the argument being made by the Liberal government on the need for this. Several members on the government side have now said that administrative segregation, solitary confinement, is simply unconstitutional. In fact, the parliamentary secretary just said that again and was rightfully corrected by the member for .
I will read into the record exactly what Justice Leask said in paragraph 534 of his B.C. Supreme Court decision. He said, “The plaintiffs do not argue that administrative segregation as a practice is unconstitutional”, circa section 12, which is the prohibition in our charter against cruel and unusual punishment, only that it is unconstitutional under a certain set of conditions. The judge, in fact, said no, he did not accept the argument based on section 12 and that it was not unconstitutional to be used.
What Bill would do instead is rename administrative segregation, which is just words, as if the punishment is just being told that one is going into solitary confinement.
It would double the hours and makes additional changes that would make it more difficult for corrections officers to look after violent prisoners in their workplace. Let us be honest. Corrections is not the workplace of prisoners; it is the workplace of guards. Their needs should actually come first. Guards in the prison system have agreed to take on violent criminals on our behalf to ensure the safety of the public.
I am not saying that prisoners should be treated poorly. I heard the parliamentary secretary mention before that Conservatives believe in some kind of medieval dungeon system. That is absolutely ridiculous. Hyperbole is something I have come to expect, particularly from the member. Hyperbole does not belong in the House. That is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about a reasonable use of administrative segregation, the way these two courts have determined it should be used. That is not what Bill would do. It would actually modify it completely.
There is an additional issue we should look at, which is the financials. If we look at the Correctional Service Canada departmental plan 2018-19, signed off by the , we see that over the next few years, there will actually be a drop in real financial resources of 8.8%. In real terms, Correctional Service Canada will have less money to deal with a bigger workload, because let us be frank, this will lead to a bigger workload for prison guards. We are asking them to take violent criminals out of solitary confinement, and I will keep calling it solidarity confinement or administrative segregation, for longer periods of time. We have heard other members on this side of the House mention what exactly is involved. Oftentimes, it is a group of guards who escort a particular criminal for their time out of segregation.
An additional point I want to raise is that in the same departmental plan, over the next two or three years, we see a reduction in full-time equivalent employees of 150 individuals. On one hand, in Bill , the government is saying that it wants to do more. It wants more mental health services. That is great. It wants more for our indigenous prison population. That is great. I am very thankful that it is actually looking after it in that lens. However, where are the financial resources? Where are the people resources to match the lofty language we are hearing in this place? Again, the Liberals say one thing and do another. That is the most I have come to expect from the government.
There is a Yiddish proverb that says, “God punishes but man takes revenge.” The prison system should not be about revenge. It should be about reform. I fervently believe that.
Many members know this, but I studied in the United States for my master's degree. Part of it was local and state administration, where we learned about the prison system in the United States. Every single state is different, but I will give members, as a corollary, the debate that was happening in 2017 in the State of Massachusetts, which has been using solitary confinement. The debate was this: Is 10 years too long to keep someone in solitary confinement? I think all of us here would say, absolutely. That is absolutely wrong. It destroys people's lives. It destroys their mental health. There is ample evidence of that.
However, what we are talking about in Canada is 15 days. What the government is proposing to do is burden prison guards with having to care for sometimes violent criminals, doubling the amount of time they will spend outside, on top of the other exemptions they will provide for them, without providing sufficient financial and people resources in a plan the himself has signed off on.
That causes me to wonder why, who is approving this legislation on the government side and who is approving the departmental plan. I would assume the would have been well versed in the departmental plan that he signed off on and now this piece of legislation I know will lead to greater costs down the road, both in personnel and in financial resources. Personnel do not work for free.
I have a great concern more generally with the Government of Canada's behaviour. On the one hand, it talks a good game and puts out flowery language. We heard about the housing strategy. There is no money in it until late into future governments that will actually have to do something about the so-called housing strategy. There are news releases and pretty photo ops. In fact, the Auditor General of Canada, in the last report, accused the government of putting photo ops ahead of doing anything. That is pretty typical now for the Government of Canada.
We have the Auditor General slamming the government for its behaviour on photo ops, public relations, its public image management in a government report, so we know there is something wrong. It is pretty typical. The Liberals have done this constantly. During the election campaign, they said they had costed out the so-called tax on the rich, which would be paid off by the so-called middle-income bracket tax cut that all of us here enjoyed and that those earning less than $45,000 got zero. They got nothing. The working poor got nothing.
However, the Liberals talked a good game. Then the Department of Finance numbers came out and they were wrong again. They failed at it again. They lost money by the scheme of fleecing the rich, so called, in a vain attempt to try to win public support on the backs of others. It is the bait and switch that we have seen in the House of Commons on a consistent set of issues, and Bill just happens to be the latest one.
Many of my Conservative colleagues were not calling for a return to medieval dungeons or a return to house segregation. We have heard of the cases where people have died in administrative segregation because it was misused, there were no good rules surrounding when, how and to whom it should apply. What Liberals are proposing with this piece of legislation is completely taking it apart. We know, by looking at the departmental plan, that they have not done their homework. Again, that is pretty typical of the government.
They have not done their homework, they have not consulted with the guards and I am wondering why not. Why would one not ask the men and women in the workplace? This is where they go on a consistent basis. We talk so much in this House about how we work and the type of work environment we want here, but we are going to make it more difficult for prison guards to do their work in their work environment? Prisoners are supposed to be there temporarily to ensure the safety of the public and for rehabilitation. The guards will possibly spend their entire lives there because this is where they work and we are going to make it more difficult. There will be less personnel at Correctional Service Canada by 2020-21 and there will be a real cut of 8.8% in financial resources. I am not the one saying that. That is in the 's plan. That is what he has put forward.
I will not be supporting this bill because there is nothing to it. It is a bunch of words on paper that Liberals have put together. They have misapplied the two court rulings and provided no financial or people resources to make it happen. It is bad legislation, it is poorly thought out and it is poor administration on the government's side.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on second reading of Bill , which would amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.
As the told us, our government's top priority is protecting Canadians from natural disasters, threats to national security, and, of course, crime. We are doing a number of things to protect Canadian communities from criminal activity.
One of the most significant things we can do to enhance public safety is make our correctional system as effective as possible in dealing with people who have committed crimes so when their sentences are over they do not commit new ones. Bill , the legislation before us today, will significantly strengthen the ability of our corrections system to achieve that objective and keep Canadians safe.
Following recent court decisions on administrative segregation, Bill proposes to eliminate segregation and establish structured intervention units, SIUs, which will allow offenders to be separated from mainstream inmate population as required while maintaining their access to rehabilitative programming, interventions and mental health care. If passed, the bill would allow Canada to take a major step forward to having a modern evidence-based correctional system that understands clearly the nexus between the mental health of offenders and the safety of communities.
As colleagues may not be familiar with the concept of administrative segregation, let me take a moment to provide the chamber with a foundational understanding of what it means.
The Correctional Service of Canada defines “administrative segregation” as “the separation of an inmate to prevent association with other inmates, when specific legal requirements are met, other than pursuant to a disciplinary decision.” Even now, while administrative segregation remains a tool that the Correctional Service of Canada has at its disposal, the objective is always to ensure that it is only used for the shortest period of time necessary when there is no reasonable or safe alternative. Clearly, isolating someone almost all day, every day is an extreme measure that must be used rarely and with caution.
In 1955, the United Nations congress on the prevention of crime and treatment of offenders was convened. There, delegates adopted the first iteration of the standard minimal rules for the treatment of prisoners. These represent the very first universally acknowledged minimal standards for the management of prison facilities and the treatment of prisoners. They inform the development of prison policies and practices the world over. They stood the test of time, serving as a standard-bearer for nearly half a century.
In 2011, it was decided that these ought to be updated, and by 2015 a new set of revised rules had been crafted. In December 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the revised rules, known as the “Nelson Mandela rules”, to honour the legacy of the late president of South Africa, who spent 27 years in prison in the course of his struggle for global human rights, equity, democracy and the promotion of a culture of peace. This is important to understand, because one of the primary updates that were made when the Mandela rules were released in 2015 was in the area of discipline and the use of solitary confinement. For the first time, solitary confinement is clearly defined and strict limitations are recommended for its use.
The Mandela rules define “solitary” as “the confinement of inmates for 22 hours or more a day without meaningful human contact.” They prohibit prolonged solitary confinement of more than 15 consecutive days.
Many have argued that these kinds of conditions have the potential to be damaging to the mental health of inmates, with outcomes such as claustrophobia, anger, depression, hallucinations, insomnia, and obsessive ideation or fixation on dying. I am sure all members in this chamber will agree that these outcomes are not ones that we want to see for inmates, who I will remind members are, by and large, going to be released into Canadian society. It is in no one's interest, least of all the general public's, for offenders to enter a correctional institution and come out worse off than when they went in. Although the Mandela rules are not binding on Canada or any other UN member country, they are an important source of guidance and information.
We know that we can always strive to do better when it comes to our criminal justice system and the safety of our communities. That is the spirit behind this bill. Under this new legislation, SIUs would be established to provide the necessary resources and expertise to address the safety and security risks of inmates who cannot be managed safely within the mainstream inmate population. Inmates in an SIU would receive structured interventions and programming tailored to their specific situation, have an opportunity for a minimum of four hours a day outside of their cell, have an opportunity for at least two hours a day of meaningful human contact and receive continued programming to help them progress toward their correctional plan objectives.
At the end of the day, all members of this place must remember this. Almost all federal offenders will return to the community one day. Safe and humane custody and access to programs and services while incarcerated increase the chance that offenders will come back as law-abiding contributing members of society. This creates greater public safety for all Canadians.
It is for these reasons that I support Bill and encourage all members to do the same.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to be rising in the House to speak to Bill , an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another act. Before I go any further, I want to express my unqualified admiration and appreciation for the incredible and very important work done by the employees of the Correctional Service of Canada and Drummond Institution, especially the mental health professionals.
I have had the opportunity to meet with their union representatives on several occasions to learn more about what they are dealing with. What they go through every day is not easy. I take my hat off to them for doing such a terrific job. They deserve the highest praise.
I should note that these employees have been affected by the infamous Phoenix pay system problems. In 2017, 60% of the employees of Drummond Institution had issues with the Phoenix pay system. Sadly, the people at Drummond Institution have had a rough time, whether because of their poor working conditions or because of the Phoenix pay system fiasco.
Again, I thank the people at Drummond Institution who work hard to keep our communities safe while inmates serve their sentences. They also do all the work involved in rehabilitating the inmates so that they can contribute to our society and our community when they leave prison.
I now want to get into the context around Bill because that has an impact on today's debate. By the minister's own admission, the bill was only ever meant to address some of the concerns expressed by the courts in their rulings.
First, the Supreme Court of British Columbia explicitly said that there are not enough tools for ensuring that a lawyer is present during administrative segregation hearings. Inmates are put in administrative segregation without independent third-party oversight, which would allow for a second opinion before proceeding.
It also mentioned the inhumane conditions resulting from overuse of administrative segregation and the fact that a predetermined time limit on the use of administrative segregation had been ignored. That is extremely important. There has to be a limited number of days and even hours during which inmates can remain in administrative segregation.
That ties in with part of the ruling from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, which states that more than 48 hours in administrative segregation may cause serious and irreversible mental health problems. Earlier we were talking about rehabilitation. That is another very important aspect. When people have served their sentence and reintegrate into society, we do not want their mental health to be aggravated by their stay in prison. We want them to be rehabilitated so that they can contribute to our community in a positive and constructive way.
That is the most troubling part.
The use of administrative segregation has been found to be abusive by the correctional investigator countless times and in countless reports that he has published over the past decade.
In addition, some vulnerable populations, such as women with mental health issues and indigenous peoples, are overrepresented in administrative segregation. More than 42% of inmates in administrative segregation are indigenous. This situation is obviously quite problematic.
What exactly does this bill do? We are concerned that it is nothing more than a repackaged administrative segregation system. The name is different, but inmates can still be kept in segregation for an indeterminate period of time, for up to 20 hours a day. The government claims that this is a big step forward, since the maximum will be 20 hours instead of 22, but that is essentially the same. This is obviously just window dressing.
This can cause permanent damage to inmates' mental health. These inmates will be returning to society. We do not want their mental health to be permanently damaged. On the contrary, we want them to be rehabilitated and to reintegrate into society.
I am a teacher by profession. Some of my colleagues teach in the adult education program at the Drummond Institution to help inmates do everything they can to improve their situation when they return to society. These are good things that are happening in our correctional institutions. It is important to mention them and to point out all the work that is being done, as I mentioned at the beginning of my speech.
The current situation is very difficult. Very painful things have happened. There was the tragic death of Ashley Smith and the subsequent recommendations from the coroner. In June 2017, 399 federal inmates were in administrative segregation and 94 of them had been there for over 90 consecutive days. Over 90 consecutive days in administrative segregation can have an impact on a person's mental health. It is just not right.
Instead, we need to improve the situation in our correctional institutions. How is it that we still have overcrowded prisons? How is it that we still have a lack of mental health care professionals? How is it that there is a lack of programs for inmates so that they can get the training they need to find jobs when they get out of prison?
That is extremely important. We need a different approach to administrative segregation, with limits and external oversight so that there is a different point of view from that of prison workers.
In recent years, the two rulings that I mentioned earlier have shown how important it is to implement legislation that is much more structured than Bill , which will do little to change the situation.
Many studies have shown that prolonged administrative segregation can trigger or aggravate certain psychiatric symptoms, such as hallucinations, panic attacks, paranoia, depression, impulsiveness, hypersensitivity to external stimuli, and more. It can increase the number of suicide attempts or make inmates suicidal.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill .
One of the things that I find truly remarkable about this bill is that specific measures were taken for the rehabilitation process of inmates with mental health problems.
Before becoming an MP, I promised myself to go see things that I could not see as a regular citizen. The first such thing was to visit a military base and meet the men and women who are committed to serving the country.
The second was to visit a prison. I knew that the reality in penitentiaries was quite different from that of ordinary Canadians. In December 2016, I had the privilege of visiting a penitentiary and that experience had a real impact on me. I saw the conditions that criminals are living in. There certainly are people who deserve to be there, but they will leave prison one day. It is important to provide all the necessary services to give them the best chances to reintegrate into civil society.
I visited two men's prisons. The inmates not only have trouble obeying the law, but also have mental health issues. I am very proud that this bill will give them access to services that can help them learn to deal with their mental illness. I think a holistic, comprehensive solution to all this is key to ensuring that people have a chance to deal with their problems. In many cases, mental illness is what led these people to break the law.
That is why I am very proud to participate in this debate and support this bill. The program will enable inmates to reintegrate thanks to better services that help them deal with their mental illness.
The second reason I am so proud to participate in developing this program is that it will give us an opportunity to take a close look at issues affecting indigenous populations. As we all know, 4% of Canada's population is indigenous. I went to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, to visit the penitentiary, where the majority of the population is indigenous. In general, penitentiary populations are between 26% and 28% indigenous.
That is six to seven times higher than their demographic weight, which I think indicates a number of things. First, we need to do better with respect to many issues affecting indigenous communities. Second, systemic discrimination exists in our criminal justice system. We need to do everything we can to tackle these issues. I was very proud to hear the speech given by the last June, I think, when she was introducing Bill . She said that we are going to try to address this, because it is extremely important.
As a black Canadian, I am well aware that people in the black community are also victims. There were a lot of black inmates in the prison I visited in 2016, even though it was in a very remote area of Saskatchewan. This also indicates that there is a problem with systemic discrimination in our justice system. We need to address and resolve these issues. I am proud to say that the provisions of this bill will give us the opportunity to ensure that all services are provided, which is very important and can improve the chances that these individuals will be able to successfully integrate into society. That is the goal.
We are not like some people who believe that humans can be treated like animals, that you can put them in a cage, lock the door and throw away the key. That is not acceptable. That is inhumane. That view is not worthy of a civilized society such as ours. We must ensure that we properly address these issues. When people break the law, there definitely will be consequences. Those people deserve to be in jail, but we must plan for and consider the day that they will get out of jail.
We cannot just punish them. We also have to teach them how to be members of our civilized society and how to be good citizens. In order to do that, we have an obligation to ensure that they receive all services they need to better adapt and better reintegrate into our society. I encourage all my colleagues who have not yet done so to follow my lead and visit a penitentiary or a prison.
That will change their minds. That will encourage members to focus on finding solutions that will help these people to get out of jail, learn their lesson and learn to obey the laws and customs of a civil society. If they do not, there will be consequences. However, we want to ensure that these people are ultimately well reintegrated into our society. That is why I am delighted to learn that we will have services to try to help these people address their mental health issues.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill , an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.
While there are some measures in the bill that are positive, on the whole, I cannot support Bill . I cannot support Bill C-83, because important aspects of the bill, significant aspects of the bill, put criminals ahead of public safety. They put criminals ahead of our correctional officers, employees in correctional institutions. These are folks who work in some of the most difficult and dangerous work environments in Canada. Indeed, one could say that Bill is part of a Liberal scheme to put criminals first.
Perhaps the biggest problem I have with Bill is the fact that it would eliminate, right across the board, in all circumstances, both administrative and disciplinary segregation.
Under section 31 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, segregation is a last resort. The institutional head may only order that an inmate be segregated when there are reasonable grounds under one of three criteria: first, the inmate poses a security risk to the institution or to an individual in that institution; second, again as a last resort, there is a need to protect the integrity of an investigation; and third, it is necessary to protect the inmate from harm. Not only that, under section 31 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, an inmate must be released from segregation at the earliest opportunity.
If we listened to the speeches from members on the Liberal side and the NDP side, we would think it was something that occurred on a routine basis. In fact, when it comes to segregation, the criteria are high, the standard is high, and very few inmates are subjected to it.
Indeed, if one looks at the statistics, in 2014-15, 638 inmates across Canada were subject to administrative segregation. That number fell to 430 in 2016-17, and as of July 31, 2017, fewer than 300 inmates were subject to administrative segregation. The number of inmates who were subjected to disciplinary segregation is even lower: five in 2010-11 among male inmates, down to three in 2014-15; among female inmates, the number was zero, other than one year, 2012-13, when one female inmate was subjected to disciplinary segregation.
While the standard is high, and while it is only used in the rarest circumstances, make no mistake about it, segregation is an important tool to deal with, in some cases, the most dangerous and violent offenders in our institutions. Members do not have to take my word for it. They can take the word of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, who said, in regard to Bill “the new Bill C-83 must not sacrifice disciplinary segregation as a tool to deter violent behaviour.” This is the union that represents the men and women who work in correctional institutions.
However, instead of listening to them, the government ignored them. The government totally disregarded them and said that it had no choice, because the courts made it do it.
Balderdash, that the courts made the government do it. There are two court decisions. The parliamentary secretary said the Supreme Court of Canada made the government do it. He had to stand up in his place and admit there was no Supreme Court of Canada decision. However, neither of the lower court decisions contemplates the elimination of segregation in all circumstances, nor does the 1996 Arbour commission, nor do the UN Mandela rules.
It seems the only people who want to eliminate it in all circumstances are the Liberals at the expense of the safety and security of correctional officers and at the expense of the safety and security of inmates. The government should be ashamed.