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Results: 1 - 15 of 75
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 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 Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Chairman, right now, just to inform the committee, I'm seeking instructions from Mr. Comartin. I will be able to give a final answer very quickly.
As it is my turn to speak on this issue, I just want to quickly say that I think Mr. Rathgeber made some offensive comments about our study. He said in the mental health study that we travelled across the country, into Norway, into Britain, and “hither and thither and yon”. Actually, the committee went across this country and we went to Norway and Britain, and that was it. If he's suggesting that was not a wise use of resources of this committee, then it's certainly contrary to what his colleague just spent the last ten minutes prattling on about.
I think it's offensive to regard the work of this committee on mental health as something that is put in nursery rhyme terms. It was a valuable study, and it certainly was a good use of our time.
I also want to point out that we have time in June. I know the committee time has been allocated, but there are a few days still in June. The purpose of my motion would move things one day. This is a very important bill, Bill C-391. It deserves to have the full consideration of this committee. Mr. Comartin wants the opportunity to put some amendments forward. That was the spirit of my motion—to enable that to happen, so that this committee would be able to consider every conceivable aspect of the gun registry bill before a very important vote comes up in Parliament, and so that amendments would be put before this committee for all parliamentarians' consideration.
I'll point out that I hear one of my friends interrupting me, and it makes it difficult to speak, but I will respond. He asked why he is not here. I've explained why he's not here to the chair, but I'll do it again here, as I did to Mr. MacKenzie. He's not here because he was called to a meeting of the Afghanistan committee. Mr. Comartin is our party's nominee, and that's going on right at this moment. I might also point out that Mr. Comartin also advises me that he sent this request to defer this one day to the government House leader, Jay Hill, who didn't even give the courtesy of a reply. That's why I'm bringing it up at the committee here, but if we want to get into that kind of politics, I'll bring that forward for the record so everybody can hear.
As well, I would point out that I did talk to the chairman, I talked to the government leader on this committee, and I talked to all the other leaders. Frankly, before I moved this motion I thought I had the agreement of everybody on this. Apparently we don't. This is what I have to say on this subject.
In terms of the mental health committee study, of course I think we're all in agreement that it's a very important thing, and I think we can get that done by the end of the summer. I don't think one day is going to make that much of a difference on it. That's what I wanted to say to the substance of the matter.
I'm awaiting instructions from Mr. Comartin right now. I'll certainly be able to advise the chairman right away if there's a way I can get this out of the way and move the committee business forward.
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you for being here today.
I heard one of you say, and I was writing quickly but I think I got the essence, that sharing paraphernalia is a major source of disease transmission. I'm going to just read a brief quote from a submission we got from the senior policy analyst of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, where it said:
Substance abuse is a contributing factor for the criminal behaviour of 70% of people admitted to federal institutions. Because of the scarcity of needles and syringes in prison, people who inject drugs in prison, including those with addictions, are more likely to share injecting equipment than those in the community, thereby increasing their risk of contracting HIV and HCV.
Programs that ensure access to sterile injecting equipment are therefore an important component of a comprehensive approach to reducing the vulnerability of incarcerated people to HIV and HCV infection.
The best available evidence strongly suggests that in countries where prison-based needle and syringe programs exist, such programs reduce risk behaviour and disease, do not increase drug consumption or injecting, do not endanger staff or prisoner safety, and have other positive outcomes for the health of people in prison including increasing referrals of users to drug addiction treatment programs.
I'm just wondering if any of you would like to comment on that. Is that accurate or not accurate?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
The last sentence of the quote--and I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hold this back, but I think it's important--said:
These findings were confirmed in prison needle exchange review of the evidence, a 2006 review by the Public Health Agency of Canada undertaken at the request of Correctional Services Canada.
Are you familiar with that report? Okay.
The reason I ask is that we're opposed to drugs in prison, but we have methadone, and methadone is an opiate. We are opposed to sex between inmates in prison, yet we have dental dams and condoms. We are opposed to having paraphernalia in prison, but we supply bleach. This committee saw a rig, a very grotesque homemade piece, that was shared by inmates, passed among the inmates.
I'm just wondering, does it not make sense to go that final step, if drug use is going to happen in prison, to ensure that at the very least we're not spreading the disease? As pointed out by my colleague, it's something that will spill into the general population and become a public health issue as well. Is that not a logical conclusion?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
I want to shift to mental health.
We had Mr. Sapers appear before our committee last June. I'll quote what he said:
This problem is compounded by the inability of the Correctional Service to recruit and retain trained mental health professionals, and by security staff that are ill-equipped to deal with health-related disruptive behaviours.For example, the majority of a psychologist's day within the Correctional Service of Canada is spent conducting mandatory risk assessments to facilitate security for conditional release requirements rather than treating or interacting with offenders in need of their clinical help.Those offenders who have acute needs or who require specialized intervention may be sent to one of the five regional treatment centres; however, this is only if they meet the admission criterion that they possess a serious and acute psychiatric illness. Typically, however, the offender is monitored at a regional treatment centre only to be returned to the referring institution after a period of stabilization. Driven by volume, the regional treatment centres have become a revolving door of referrals, admissions, and discharges.The overwhelming majority of offenders suffering from mental illness in prison do not generally meet the admission criteria that would allow them to benefit from the services provided in the regional treatment centre. They stay in general institutions, and their illnesses are often portrayed as behavioural problems.
It's not mental health issues per se.
That seems to jibe with my own observations when I participated in the prison tour. We have a lot of people with mental illnesses. We are not doing a very good job providing intermediate mental health care and we are not actually providing a lot of counselling and therapeutic time. Is that something you see from your point of view?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Do you mean for women or do you mean in general?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
How many inmates in total are in those across the country?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
How many women are incarcerated across the country?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
I have one last question. One thing I've heard is that practically every woman in prison has suffered a trauma. It's probably an exaggeration, but I think it makes the point. We can certainly agree that the vast majority of women in prison have had some type of severe trauma. Do you have any special programs or advice to give this committee on how we could better respond to treat female offenders who have suffered from serious trauma?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
What percentage would you use?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you.
First of all, I just want to thank you for the incredibly well-researched document you provided us. I don't think I've seen more footnotes in a presentation in any other thing we've had.
My colleague on the other side asked who would pay for the needles if they were provided. Who pays the $22,000 a year to treat someone with hepatitis C, and $29,000 a year to pay for an inmate with HIV?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
CSC pays for that. Do you know what the annual cost of a needle supply would be?
View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
Okay, five cents and ten cents.
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