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Results: 1 - 15 of 129
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you.
Mr. Chair, 80% of offenders in our federal prisons have addictions. We know that mental illness is a significant and growing problem in our prisons. The Conservative government has said that there are people in prisons who shouldn't be there because they actually have health issues. Yet this budget doesn't say a word about increasing funding for mental health treatment or addictions treatment.
Given that these are some of the prime causes of crime, and dealing with these issues is an absolutely identified way to reduce recidivism and make our communities safer, can you please explain why?
View Colin Mayes Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Dr. Westwood, for being with us today.
I do have a question, but first I'll give you a little background. I was with Veterans Affairs here five years ago when I was first elected and, of course, the plan was to move Veterans Affairs away from being just a benefit plan to a life support plan or a caring plan where we were following the veteran and making sure that all their needs during their full life after service were cared for. That is why there was the inception of the Veterans Charter and then the further review that we've been doing to carry that out and to improve that system. This study is just a furtherance of that.
One of the things we've heard in previous testimony was about the importance of family--and you've mentioned colleagues--as far as helping those veterans who are suffering from PTSD and those who might be suicidal is concerned. What about...? You've stressed colleagues. Previously there were a lot of witnesses who said that it's important for family to be involved in that support, and I would even suggest the community, whether it be the local Legion or even church groups or organizations that are there to support those veterans. I was wondering if you have any of that as far as your transition program goes in looking for support for those veterans you're dealing with.
View Colin Mayes Profile
CPC (BC)
We've been dealing with the transition from active duty with the Canadian Forces to Veterans Affairs in regard to how they fit into the department and all the different programs they have to support the veterans. Would you say you're focusing more on that transition from active duty to civilian life and how they fit into society?
View Colin Mayes Profile
CPC (BC)
There was one comment we had from our witness from the forces in Australia who deals with PTSD, and especially suicide amongst veterans. The statement was made that a lot of the stress...or that of those who committed suicide, only one-third of them actually saw active combat duty, and that a lot of the issues around suicidal tendencies were more about things like marriage breakdown, financial issues, and tragedies in their lives that sort of manifested themselves in their lives. They weren't necessarily connected to their combat duties.
Dr. Marvin Westwood: No.
Mr. Colin Mayes: Do you find that at all?
View Colin Mayes Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you for attending our committee today through video conferencing and for helping us to work through this review of operational stress and suicide. One of the issues we've heard about in some of our discussions is that there have been statements that the frequency of suicide among young people isn't any different from what it is among those in the Canadian Forces or in the general population. I'd like to know if that is the same in Australia.
Then I'd like to know a little bit about profiling those who suffer from operational stress or who commit suicide. When you look at it, is it the degree of exposure to operational combat? Is it other factors? Have you profiled those people so that you can identify where there could be some problem areas?
View Colin Mayes Profile
CPC (BC)
I'm quite interested in the BattleSMART program. It's not only the education of the recruit or the forces personnel, but also some of those indicators that come up in discussing these issues.
Are there any operational policies that your forces are implementing when, for instance, a person is maybe identified to be at a little higher risk? Would they say, “Okay, let's not put them into an operational combat situation” and help them by easing them into that more dramatic part of their job?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I also want to express my condolences to the victims for the suffering they've experienced.
I'm going to take a risk and say something that I think is on everybody's mind here. The prospect of seeing Earl Jones and Mr. Lacroix walk out of jail after serving one-sixth of their time--after two years of a 13-year sentence--is jarring to Canadians. But also at issue here is the wisdom or not of making a policy that applies to 1,000 people a year to target two people. So I'm going to direct my questions to that.
This committee did a mammoth study on the prevalence of mental illness and addictions in the federal prison system. We found that 80% of the people in federal institutions suffer from addictions or alcoholism, and a very high percentage--I don't even think we can settle on a number--suffer from mental illness. I know that getting access to timely and effective treatment for addictions or mental illness is woeful in our federal institutions right now.
Transferring those people who are eligible--first-time, non-violent offenders--into halfway houses in the community, where they have access to far broader community services like addictions treatment, mental health resources, reintegration, connections with their families, and work, is helpful to their reintegration and rehabilitation.
Does anybody disagree with me on that?
I also want to ask about cost. It's my understanding that it costs about $140,000 a year to keep a male prisoner in a federal institution. We heard Ms. Pate say it costs $185,000 for a female--
View Colin Mayes Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Chair.
Welcome, Mr. Wall, to the committee.
Unfortunately, the past misguided mental health policies of former provincial and federal governments really triggered the Senate report out of the shadows. From that, basically, there is a mental health commission and a strategy.
Unfortunately, I started to read the report but didn't get right through it. Did they touch on suicide prevention and those issues around mental health in the study?
View Colin Mayes Profile
CPC (BC)
That's interesting, because I really think that should be incorporated as part of that strategy.
I don't want to get caught up in data, because we're talking about people here, we're not talking about data. The important thing is the people. Mr. André said something that triggered....
In your statement you said that in the study of the forces in the U.K. they found the number of suicides were two to three times higher. But you set an age group, did you not?
View Colin Mayes Profile
CPC (BC)
So it was not all Canadian Forces; it was an age group. I'd just like to make sure that data is straight, because data can say a lot of things. We've got to be careful.
View Colin Mayes Profile
CPC (BC)
Right.
There was one thing I wondered about that. An unfortunate experience when I was in the mining industry was that three miners committed suicide within a month. It was almost like an association. They were all friends. I wondered if that is a common thing that happens. It's what I would call a cluster or association suicide. A lot of the suicides in this particular group, as far as the forces are concerned, could be the association with young men and women who maybe have gone through the same circumstances and seen one of their colleagues do it. Would it make that threshold easier?
View Colin Mayes Profile
CPC (BC)
Unfortunately, through what we see, we have a society that has, I think, diminished the value of life, the sanctity of life. Youth have grown up in that type of environment. I'm just wondering, I know we can tie the issue to, for instance, combat duty or some of the challenges of living in the Canadian Forces, such as all living together in one spot. That's a challenge. Have you done any studies or gleaned any information with regard to the Canadian Forces and some of those things in the Canadian Forces that could be improved to minimize some of those outcomes?
View Colin Mayes Profile
CPC (BC)
Do you think maybe that is something this committee should be looking at and maybe recommending, that transition from active duty to veteran and trying to get that information transfer so they can identify potential risks?
View Colin Mayes Profile
CPC (BC)
Okay.
One of the things you mentioned was suicide as a public health problem and having a national strategy. Who do you see championing that? I was thinking about the Mental Health Commission, but would it be through Health Canada or through the Mental Health Commission? How do you see that happening? That could be tied in with Veterans Affairs too as a partner in some sort of strategy.
View Colin Mayes Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you for all that your organization does for mental health and suicide prevention.
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