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Results: 1 - 11 of 11
Irvin Waller
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Irvin Waller
2011-03-03 9:10
Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to you this morning.
I've made available to the committee some materials in both English and French, first of all a book called Less Law, More Order: The Truth About Reducing Crime. This book is totally consistent with what Senator Hutchinson told you, but it adds to it information from studies in England and in the United States on what is in fact effective and cost-effective in reducing crime, and it actually talks about a strategy to move from overreliance on reactive criminal justice to a balance between smart criminal justice and effective prevention.
I've also made available to the committee a document in both official languages, called in English Making Cities Safer: Action Briefs for Municipal Stakeholders. This was funded by some of the money from the National Crime Prevention Centre and has been very widely used. We actually ran out of copies fairly soon after we produced them by cities from coast to coast. Probably the most interesting city to use this is the city of Edmonton, but it also talks about Montreal, Waterloo, and other cities.
I have been on the public record on a number of the issues here today, and I'd just like to remind you a little bit about how I got to where I am now.
I did the first and only independent evaluation of the prison and parole system in Canada in the seventies. I was a director general in the Ministry of Public Safety in the seventies. I won prizes for my work in getting the UN to adopt the declaration on rights for crime victims, colloquially known as the Magna Carta for crime victims, and I was the founding executive director of the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime affiliated with the UN and based in Montreal.
But more recently I've turned to writing two books for legislators and voters and taxpayers, and a lot of what is in these books is consistent with the right on crime website, but it has perhaps two major emphases that were not mentioned by Senator Hutchinson. One, I'm a crime victim advocate; nothing else. I've been head of the World Society of Victimology. I'm personally a victim of crime, and I currently head the International Organization for Victim Assistance. The main contribution that I make in the victim area is that I'm also a professional social scientist who looks at data and looks at standards and looks at what is in the best interests of victims, and I try to share my assessment with them.
This book does that, and I have a book that actually is already released in the United States and ran out in the first three weeks of its publication, called Rights for Victims of Crime.
Now, what I think is missing from what you shared with us today is a focus on.... If you go on the Right on Crime website, you will see they talk about protecting victims, and I think our public policy in Canada, both federally and provincially, should be totally focused on reducing harm to victims of crime. That means reducing the number of people who are victims of crime, and focusing on what can be done about that harm.
Justice Canada released about a week ago an updated study on the cost of crime to victims in Canada, talking about $85 billion as being the cost of pain and suffering to victims. They also, by the way, estimated the cost of criminal justice at $15 billion, and I guess it's because they're in Justice Canada that they're not following what is going on in the policing area in Canada. It's not just prison costs that Justin Piché talked about. It's also policing costs, and policing costs affect our taxes at the municipal level in this country. So I think we have to see this issue of prison construction in the context of rapidly expanding policing expenditures as well as these rapidly expanding correctional expenditures at the provincial level.
In my view, these expenditures are largely out of control, and there is a need for leadership. And the good news is that there is leadership in this country. The Province of Alberta in 2007 set up a task force to look at the best data from all over the world on what actually works to reduce harm to victims. That task force included the chief of police of Edmonton, an associate dean of law, a native, and so on and so forth.
There were 31 recommendations from the task force, and I'm going to divide them into four parts. First, part of them were about building remand cells because nobody has really come to grips with limiting the reaction to crime. They included some additional police officers. Alberta has fewer police officers per capita than Ontario and Quebec do. Second, it included stuff to deal with mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction. Third, it put into practice the sort of stuff that is in this book, and a number of other agencies. By the way, a lot of this research comes from the United States on what actually works to reduce crime. Fourth, and this is the most important thing for this committee, they established a long-term strategy, not reacting by saying we have to build now because there's going to be double-bunking and so on, but a strategy that says yes, we've got to deal with making sure we've got enough reactive capacity, but we've got to get to grips with the sorts of things that lead to this flood of people into our prison system, and we've got to prevent.
I know my time is limited, but I prepared a longer brief and I will be happy to share it with people in due course. What I've decided to do in the very limited time is to focus on a very brief history. I'm not going to go back 30 or 40 years, which I could do, to tell you about the history.
I just want to translate one thing that Senator Hutchinson told you. He said prisons are expensive. What that means is a taxpayer in the United States pays twice what a taxpayer in Canada does for the privilege of having that number of police, that number of lawyers, and an incredible number of people incarcerated. He said 2.3 million, but in my view it's very close to the population of Toronto that's incarcerated. He told you it was 23% of the recorded prison population in the world. You have to think about that.
While you're thinking about that, and it's a rate of 750 per 100,000, the aboriginal rate of incarceration in Canada is higher than that. If you go ahead with expanding penitentiaries, just think who is going to be incarcerated: aboriginal people, disproportionately; women, very disproportionately; men, disproportionately.
I have the privilege of having a PhD student working on how you solve that problem, and the answer is, you prevent. You focus on why there is so much violence, particularly among urban aboriginal people, and we know exactly what to do. By the way, we largely knew in 1993 when the Horner committee looked at these issues. We largely knew when the O'Shaughnessy committee looked at these issues in 1995. Since then, the World Health Organization in 2002 produced a report, with assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States. This report basically tells you in its foreword, and I'll quote from Mandela, that violence is preventable.
You will not find any recommendation in that report that would give you any basis for expanding our prison population. It didn't talk about abolishing prisons. Clearly, we need prisons for the dangerous offenders. Part of what I did as a federal public servant was introduce the first dangerous offender legislation. I don't want Olson calling me up, and I don't want Bernardo being released, and I could mention several other cases. If you look at what Right On Crime says, basically it says to set priorities. You have a certain prison capacity, so use it for those people who are dangerous--I think that was your term, but I may be misquoting you.
The World Health Organization produced their report, and they also produced a major report on return on investment. For me, that's an Alberta term. I was doing a presentation to an American criminal justice group in Toronto yesterday, with the Alberta government, and what they talked about was social return on investment.
These guys in Alberta are smart. They're not just sitting there allowing this flood wave of policing increases and prison construction. They're saying they're going to protect victims; they're going to use taxpayers' money responsibly, which is a very similar line to the website, Right on Crime. The WHO brought that together.
In 2007 the current federal Conservative government doubled the budget for prevention, from $25 million or $30 million to $60 million. When they're spending $4 billion, it's not worth worrying about. Stockwell Day, who is very familiar with the victimization statistics, implied this was going to solve the crime problem. That sort of money for an experimental program will not solve the crime problem.
They've now cut back on that. They couldn't spend the money. There are people out there who could use that money, but they couldn't spend it.
For me, this is an incredible shame. Not only was it too little—limited to experimental—but they didn't spend the money. There are 14 cities in this country looking for $300,000 a year to multiply what works, and they were told there was no longer any money available. This is while we are talking in the press about $400 million.
I've mentioned the Alberta task force. I'm going to go to some bottom lines, and I—
Pascal Lacoste
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Pascal Lacoste
2010-11-30 16:52
Thank you so much for allowing me to appear before you. I greatly appreciate this opportunity and can confirm that, by simply having undertaken this study, your committee is bringing a lot of hope to veterans who are suffering in silence at home.
I was fortunate to be able to serve my country for 14 years. Had I not been injured during a mission, I would still be serving our great country. The last mission I had the honour of serving in was in East Timor; I was there as an infantry soldier in an airborne division. I was injured in the field. When I arrived at the Quebec City airport, nobody was there waiting for me. And yet, I was repatriated from Australia for medical reasons. Let me tell you that I quickly understood what it feels like going from a hero to a zero when I arrived at the Quebec City airport and saw no one there to greet me.
That led to a lot of distress, both physical and psychological. We know that soldiers think of themselves as the strongest of the strong, those who are admired, feared and respected. Once we become a problem for medical reasons, we do not feel like speaking out because we will have to face both the judgment of our peers and of the chain of command, which will consider us as soldiers who no longer want to work. Unfortunately, I can confirm that is the reaction we face.
Despite my many problems, both physical and psychological, I went to the armed forces for help. They told me that if I asked for too much, they would force me to leave, because the army did not need problem cases in its ranks. So you either put up or leave. That does not make you want to ask for help; therefore, you suck it in and try to keep on marching to the beat.
Later on, when you come before the Department of Veterans Affairs, you are asked to prove that your condition is service-related, because there is nothing written down in your file. No, there is nothing in the file, because no one wants to say that they are sick. The moment you are declared sick, you are no longer a hero, but rather a zero.
I even went to the Department of Veterans Affairs to say that I needed psychological help, that I was afraid to hurt myself. A bureaucrat looked me in the eyes and told me—excuse the term—that I was a welfare bum in uniform and that I only wanted a bigger pay cheque. He told me to leave him alone.
Imagine that you are a highly capable soldier and that, within nine days' time, you fall physically and mentally ill. You no longer understand who you are and you need to muster all your courage to admit that you have medical issues. Admitting you have post-traumatic stress disorder is not an easy thing to do. I admit that I have a psychological illness. It is extremely hard to admit that to yourself. Not only do I admit that, but I have gone to look for help; but the army has told me that my stress is related to my childhood.
When I then go to the Department of National Defence, the bureaucrats there treat me like someone who wants a bigger welfare cheque and imply that my uniform is but a disguise. That is enough to keep you from returning to ask for help. You just feel like staying home and not asking for anything because you are made to feel like a costly nuisance.
People wonder why soldiers do not ask for help. It is because they are frowned upon; they are only seen as an expense. When I signed up, I did not think how much it would cost me; I gave everything that I could. I was pleased to do so. If I had to do it all over again, I would because I love my country. When I was finally diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, I had the honour of receiving care. Things were quite complicated. It took over three years to recognize that I had post-traumatic stress disorder. My spouse was the one who supported me during that time. When you hear people say that family is important, that is so true.
When you enter the armed forces, as long as you are operational, you are commended for being good and strong and told to keep it up, and that your superiors have confidence in you and give you new challenges. What I love about the army is that they give you as much as you can ask for, and they will keep on asking for more as long as you can give it to them. That is highly motivating. But the day you become ill, you are told not to bother them, and they no longer want to hear from you. Therefore, the love you once felt in your work now comes from your social network.
But you have to be careful, because there are limits to what your social network and family can give. My spouse was diagnosed with burn-out, because she was the only one who took care of me, while the armed forces and the Department of Veterans Affairs told me that I did not have a problem and that my stress was childhood-related. During my childhood, I never used a C7 or sniper gun.
Finally, I was hospitalized at Ste. Anne's Hospital, after my spouse had been diagnosed as suffering from burn-out because she had taken care of me. She was a sound-minded woman, an ambulance attendant by profession. So she already had medical knowledge.
I was hospitalized in the only hospital for Canada's veterans, where there were only four beds for people in my generation. They only accept what they refer to as nice cases for these four beds. If you have any addictions to drugs, alcohol or medication, they do not want you. If they feel that you are aggressive, they do not want to hospitalize you in Ste. Anne de Bellevue. So the only places where you can go are the civilian hospitals. However, the staff working in civilian hospitals are afraid of us when we arrive because we have been labelled as individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
I told them that I was terrified, that I didn't feel like hurting anyone, that I was a man who was essentially gentle, but that I was afraid. I asked them to help me. They asked me what my problem was. I answered that I was suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. They confined me to my room, where I was kept in a bed and injected with tranquilizers. And yet, I had done absolutely nothing, I had not been violent in any way whatsoever. I had voluntarily asked for assistance. When you ask for help, you are confined to your room, so that does not make you want to ask for assistance again. All you feel like doing is to remain silent, to shut up.
When I was hospitalized in the veterans' hospital for physical problems, I was told that I required too much care, that I could not be given any help washing myself, etc. I replied that the hospital looked after Second World War veterans. I have the greatest respect for them, but why were they entitled to such care, but not me? I was told that these veterans were from another generation, that they had these entitlements and that young veterans had others, but not the same. I suppose that the bullets that whistled by our ears did not hurt as much as those that whistled by theirs. I have a great deal of respect for them, but I do believe that one serves one's country in accordance with one's generation, in accordance with the place where our country sends us. Why should we be treated any differently from them when we need care? Why should we beg for this care?
Despite all of this, I transferred my passion to my spouse, who joined the Canadian Forces as a reservist. She served in Afghanistan. She came back in November 2009. I supported her during 10 months. Throughout this time, when we called the Canadian Forces to inform them that Sabrina was not feeling well, that she was experiencing anxiety attacks, they told me that I knew what was happening, that I should support her as she went through these difficulties, that I was strong and that I should continue. After supporting her for six months, despite my physical and mental state of health, my spouse and I were both suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Supporting a spouse is already very demanding. In my situation, I was unable to do this, but I did manage because of my love for her.
Six months later, Sabrina tried to commit suicide. I sacrificed my physical and mental health for my country, and I almost sacrificed my wife for my country. That is a heavy price to pay. When I called the Canadian Forces to request assistance and to say that I was the first responder and that I was trying to resuscitate my spouse, I was told to go to the civilian hospital and that they could not do anything for me. So I went there.
Once at the hospital, I called the commanding officer of her regiment, because she was a reservist. Earlier, the ombudsman said that this was part of the commanding officer's job. She did go to the hospital, but the only thing she told me was that she was restricted to making suggestions. It was up to the Department of Veterans Affairs to decide who should be hospitalized. My spouse was unstable and she was not entitled to be hospitalized in the only veterans' hospital in Canada. She had to be put into a civilian hospital. In the civilian hospital, we were told that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome and that they did not know what to do for her and that she should be hospitalized in a veterans' hospital. Where were we to go? Nobody wants to look after us. I brought my spouse back home and I took care of her as best I could until she was granted the great privilege of being admitted to Ste. Anne's Hospital, the only hospital for veterans in Canada. It is too late, I am no longer able to look after her. I had to leave her. We told each other that, although we loved each other a great deal, neither of us were in any state of health to be able to look after each other.
Sabrina came back from Afghanistan in November of last year. Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs is still studying how to help us. I'm sorry, it is too late.
Sabrina has gone back to her family, in the Beauce, and I am alone at home.
I am not the type of person who complains for fun. I can attest that I have had a great deal of time to think about real solutions.
I have been fighting with the Department of Veterans Affairs in order to receive treatment for 11 years—this member of Parliament helped me tremendously with my file and I would like to thank him—and this is the first time that I have been asked, as a veteran, what I think would be good for me. I really appreciate this opportunity as I have been wanting to do this for 11 years.
Why does the department simply not ask us this question? It is very simple: we would like to be treated like human beings.
Some people say that going to war is the greatest act of love one can show to a person as you are saying that I am prepared to die for you. When you come back to your country and you ask for help, after having been prepared to make the greatest sacrifice possible, you are told that there is no money for the "welfare recipients" in uniform who are after a bigger cheque.
I even asked government officials whether or not I could sign a form saying that I was not entitled to a pension, but that I was entitled to care. If there is a money problem, what do I need to do in order to restore my dignity? I am still waiting for the answer.
I have been submitting requests to the Department of Veterans Affairs for more than 11 years and it is still studying how it can help us.
Given these circumstances, do you believe that soldiers feel like saying that they too are ill? No. The person who says this will be dragged into the mud. The law of silence prevails. You must never say that you are sick, because you will lose your job. No one will want to hire you if you are suffering from post-traumatic stress. You must never make this mistake. And this is the message that we pass amongst ourselves.
Do you want to know the truth? You must give us an opportunity to speak. If a child speaks and is punished every time he opens his mouth, he will no longer speak.
That is all. Thank you.
Linda Lagimonière
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Linda Lagimonière
2010-11-25 16:38
Good afternoon. My name is Linda Lagimonière and I am the mother of Private Frédéric Couture. Frédéric had an accident on December 16, 2006. He stepped on a mine. He was then sent home. The army looked after that. I have to say that, when he came back, it was quite the scene. There were soldiers everywhere. They took Frédéric to the Montreal General Hospital, not to Quebec City. That was a first for the army. Frédéric then spent eight months at home. On November 14, 2007, Frédéric committed suicide. He died in my arms. That is very hard, I can tell you.
A little less than a year later, a commission of inquiry was held. That is when I found out that Frédéric had tried to kill himself over there. The army never told us that. We also found out that he had never received any psychological help, except for a 15-minute session with a 20-year-old psychologist who was just starting out in the profession. Physically, Frédéric received the best care possible. Psychologically, he received none.
William Maguire
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William Maguire
2010-11-23 15:32
I was up here in March. I recognize some faces and see some new faces. As I think I stated in March, you're going to hear it in a soldier's language. I don't beat around the bush. I shoot from the gut. I have nothing to prove to anybody.
Ladies and gentlemen, you are looking at an individual who has suffered with the dreaded affliction known as PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. I have been suffering with this mental disorder for the past 36 years of my life of 62 years. For the past four years, I have been under the care of medical professionals after being diagnosed with the disease in April 2006.
PTSD is a dreaded disease that one can be suffering with while looking completely normal to anyone who does not know what the veteran is fighting with on a daily basis. In other words, we all look normal. You walk in and see me and think, “There's nothing wrong with that guy. He's normal.” Well, I'm not normal, not mentally anyways.
One of the biggest factors that we constantly endure is the knowledge that once a veteran is diagnosed and the word gets out, then we are looked at as an enigma and are treated with distrust, not to be put into an area of responsibility. Basically we are treated like one with leprosy.
To try to cope and hide the fact that there was something wrong with me, I put on a phony act and tried my hardest to socialize, but in the end it all came crashing down, which damn near destroyed me. Many veterans cannot handle this daily battle with oneself and completely withdraw into a world of depression and what we refer to as “bunkering in”. That is, a veteran goes into his basement or his little room, and he stays there and will not come out. He becomes completely reclusive, not wanting to socialize or be bothered by anyone. There is a complete social breakdown.
As for me, I have been suffering from massive headaches, nightmares on a regular basis, bouts of anger to the point that I have scared individuals, frustration in not knowing what was going on with me, anxiety over having to carry out the simplest tasks, and an unwillingness to fully trust anyone close to me--i.e., at work or at home. I was always on guard, keeping my shield up at all times, constantly vigilant as to what was going on around me. I had social misbehaviour and run-ins with authority. These things are common in men suffering from PTSD. I use the word men because I have never worked with women with PTSD.
These conditions manifested themselves directly when I returned from Cyprus in December 1974, after a United Nations tour with the Canadian Airborne Regiment. After my first marriage broke up in 1982--I had been married for 10 years--my parting wife stated to me that she still loved me but did not know me anymore. Another statement she made was, “You are not the same man I married since coming home from Cyprus in 1974, and at times you actually scare me, as I do not know what to expect from you.” This is another one of the things that we have to face--the family support system, and loss of that system.
After returning from Somalia in 1993, I remarried, hoping beyond hope that I could find normalcy with the woman who I now love. This too fell to the wayside, leaving me in a daily battle with my conditions, which I call the roller-coaster ride of emotions: up one minute and down the next.
Presently, I am still suffering through many of these conditions, even though I am seeing a psychologist on a regular basis. Because of the constant struggle to find meaning in life while suffering from the black dog of depression--that is what I call it--my physical being has taken a beating faster than what I or the medical professionals predicted.
I may be wrong in making this assessment, but I blame the never-ending cycle of emotional ups and downs caused by PTSD for my failing health. To try to find some meaning in all of this, and to make a commitment to myself--in others words, for a get-out-of-the-house project--I volunteered to join the OSISS, occupational stress injury support service, as a peer helper. It is this experience with OSISS, of which I am no longer a member, plus taking on a workload of veterans on my own that I now draw upon.
I did my best, giving 100%-plus to help my fellow veterans until I went through what we call the burnout phase, something all peer helpers like me will go through, because you get too involved with the man that you're working with and you get burned out.
It was during these episodes of burnout that I suffered severe depression and a deep bunkering in period. As you can imagine, this took its toll not only on me but also on my relationship with my loving wife, which was already at the breaking point. It was during these black dog times that I completely cut myself off from the outside world, missing important medical appointments and basically cutting back on my duties to help my fellow veterans.
This part really upset me, as I consider it my duty to keep in contact with them. That's the old thing about soldiering. You help your buddies, and in return they help you. When you can't do that anymore, then it falls on your shoulders: you've let them down. We've all gone through it.
These episodes would last for weeks to months at a time. While I have suffered through these horrible times in my life, my loving wife has constantly stood by my side, even though I would spend days in my bunker, not washing, shaving, or changing my clothes, and only going upstairs to eat every now and again. She has endured quite a lot over my illness through the years, and has even threatened to leave me on a few occasions. I would not blame her in the least if she did, as I think she would be better off without me.
As time passed and my condition worsened, she kept cutting back on her hours at work so she could be with me more and more as she was concerned that I was going to kill myself. When she could not cope anymore at work, she decided to quit her job to be with me at all times. Even though this was a great boon to me, it cost us dearly financially, but we manage. This is more stress put upon us. Besides all this, I have not been able to sexually satisfy her for over 10 years. You can imagine what stress this has put on our relationship.
I see my life as one of constant pain and suffering. My life as I knew it is in ruins, and at times I feel that there is no sense in carrying on under these relentless circumstances. I have to admit and I say without malice that PTSD has taken a great toll on me and on hundreds of other veterans.
This is what I have experienced over the past four years.
First, PTSD will ruin the veteran's family and social life until they turn to addictions such as alcohol and prescribed or illicit drugs, gambling to the point where they are no longer in control of their finances, or dangerous sexual overactivity that may turn to prostitution. Or they might become workaholics. By carrying out these manifestations, they ruin any chance of getting self-respect or battling the effects of PTSD.
Also, I must state that when someone is suffering from one or more of these addictions, it makes the diagnosis of PTSD more difficult, as the person must first be treated for these addictions. This period of assessment is very stressful to the member, as it will more than likely ruin his marriage, if he is married, or any relationship that he is in. With the loss of family support, which is critical for the veteran's recovery process, he will more than likely end up as a recluse or come to the point of attempting suicide.
If he can maintain family support, which is hard and stressful not only to the veteran but to the family as well, then he has a much better chance of living with the effects of PTSD. On the other hand, if a member is single, then the battle is waged on a different scale--that is to say, it is harder on him to seek help and he will probably turn to other means such as addictions. If he is not fortunate enough to get medical help immediately, he will normally self-destruct.
Because of the constant mistrust by veterans towards authority and the banishment they feel by the system in place, they will rebuke any help and form themselves into splinter groups to seek advice and help from one another. This is what I refer to as a speeding car going down a one-way street--a very dangerous street at that. Instead of gaining help from one another, all they are doing is putting their lives in jeopardy by not seeking proper medical assistance. Meeting in one's basement or a garage does not solve anything, especially when they do most of their discussions over a couple of cases of beer or illegal tobacco. All they end up achieving is more anger, frustration, mistrust, and the threat of oncoming deep depression. I have personally witnessed these occasions twice, and must admit that it totally shocked the hell out of me.
I have personally attended two group sessions held by my psychologist, which have helped me considerably to further understand the effects and causes of PTSD. These, as well as one-on-one sessions, have taught me how to cope during times of undue stress and anxiety, and have taught me the triggers that set me off. These sessions have considerably helped numerous fellow veterans to try to live a normal life. I will not go as far as to state that they are a magic cure, because they are not designed as such, but they will further benefit the veteran in their daily battles with PTSD and help them put trust in one another. The veteran can only get out of the program what they are willing to put into it. In other words, what I've put into it is what I receive. If I don't want to meet the psychologist halfway, he will not meet me. Then it's a waste of time for both individuals.
Many veterans have been refused help from the medical system because many doctors and psychologists refuse to take us on as patients. They do not know how to treat us, nor do they understand the effects PTSD can cause on the human body. Training is also a big issue. By their refusal, veterans feel even more isolated and mistrustful toward the system. This is one of the main causes of mistrust. If I go looking for help and I can't find it, I don't trust anybody. Then we go to the splinter groups. It's like you're on a speeding car going down a fast hill with a brick wall in front of you. There's no way out of it.
One other major factor that we all suffer from is trying to be understood and properly cared for by a respectful system. That can have very serious effects on the veteran if not found in time. Without proper medical facilities and care, we are basically doomed.
Suicide is on the rise, and I again refer to my own personal experience in stating this. During the last group session I put forward a question to my fellow veterans in attendance. When I asked how many in the group had contemplated suicide, seven out of eight put up their hands. When I asked how many had plans to carry it through, four put up their hands. When I asked how many had tried, three put up their hands. I was one of the three. I have personally suffered through five suicides plus numerous attempts. This has taken its toll on me, as can be well imagined.
Before closing I would like to state that PTSD—and this is coming from a veteran—cannot be cured, but it can be controlled if caught in the early stages. I was not lucky enough to be properly treated at an early stage, even though I requested help back in 1985 and the early 1990s. I knew in 1985 that there was something wrong with me, and my biggest fear was that I was going crazy. That is the first thing a veteran will think when he starts misbehaving and becoming a social outcast. He thinks, “I'm going nuts. I'm the only one out there suffering.”
When I went to the base surgeon in CFB Shearwater in 1985 and explained my concerns about loss of control and nightmares, the medical doctor stated that it was all in my head and that over time I would heal myself.
Well, here I sit, and I am far from being healed.
Signed, Mr. William D. Maguire.
Dave Shipman
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Dave Shipman
2010-05-06 16:09
Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for providing me this opportunity to speak before you on this important issue.
My name is Dave Shipman. I was born and raised in Winnipeg, and I currently I live in a rural setting just outside the city. I feel qualified to attend at this hearing as a result of my life experience and involvement in law enforcement from the age of 19 to the present.
I spent 25 years with the Winnipeg Police Service and nearly 19 of those years investigating violent crimes in the homicide robbery division. During 16 of those years I was also a member of the special weapons team and a team leader on the entry team.
I retired 10 years ago and immediately took up a position as investigator in charge of the organized crime/gang unit with Manitoba Public Insurance, where I remain so employed.
I've been involved with the criminal intelligence service in Manitoba during these 10 years as well. For those who are not familiar with it, each province has its own criminal intelligence service with the federal governing body, Criminal Intelligence Service Canada.
The CISM includes all law enforcement and investigative bodies in Manitoba and northwestern Ontario. The nature of my work, investigating organized crime and gang activity as it relates to organized insurance fraud, and my involvement with CISM, puts me in contact with serving police officers on a continual basis.
My experience in dealing with violent criminals and gang members is probably far more involved than that of the average police officer. Believe me when I tell you that I have put hundreds and hundreds of dangerous violent men in prison over the years, often for unspeakable crimes, including rape, robbery, home invasions, and murder.
It is in the arrest and interviewing of these men and their associates that I've obtained a good working knowledge of their mindset. First and foremost, let me say that a vast majority of violent attacks, attempted homicides, and homicides committed domestically involve weapons other than firearms--knives being the preferred weapon.
Of the few domestic homicides I can recall that involved long guns, committed by either sex on the spouse, they were long guns that were legally owned and there had been no previous encounters with the law. No amount of gun registry would have stopped lives from being taken.
I have watched the long-gun registry with interest, both as a serving police officer and a gun owner/hunter. First, and it has been said time and time again, criminals do not register guns. The guns they seek out and use to commit violent crimes are most profoundly smuggled or stolen handguns and, to a lesser extent, stolen and cut-down shotguns or rifles. Firearms that are capable of firing at an automatic rate are smuggled in from the U.S., and drug dealers and gangs--the two intertwined--are the favourite customers. None of these situations can be corrected by a long-gun registry.
Handguns have always enjoyed a restricted status, and ownership brought significant restrictions as to how and where the firearm could be possessed. Automatic weapons were always illegal to possess, with the exception of law enforcement and legitimate grandfathered collectors. The national gun registry has done nothing to deter illegal possession of these guns.
Again, criminals intent on procuring and possessing these guns are not about to register them. So how does the gun registry assist the police in preventing gun crime? It simply does not, and it offers nothing to protect our citizenry from being victims of gun crime perpetrated by well-armed criminals.
I'm not against licensing of gun owners. The possession and/or acquisition of firearms should be a licensed, controlled process to prevent criminals and otherwise unstable or dangerous individuals from legally obtaining and owning firearms. But the registry is really only about counting guns--guns belonging to people who have chosen to involve themselves in the system.
Civil disobedience to the registry has been rampant, with entire provinces refusing to enforce the failure to register and attorneys general announcing refusal to prosecute. Amnesties that have lasted for years have been put into place. Thousands and thousands of legal guns remain in our country outside of the registry, and many thousands of illegal guns are stolen or smuggled into the hands of criminals whose last worry is the gun registry.
I've heard from proponents of the registry that it assists police officers because they can check with the gun registry to determine if guns are registered to the person they are interested in or the residence or location they are attending. While this check can certainly be done, I've yet to talk to a serving street cop--I'm talking about the average constable attending call after call after call--who has checked the registry, even a single time, or who even knows how to use it. In checking with the supervisor officers of the major crimes unit, the homicide unit, and the organized crime unit, not one can ever recall using the registry before going to make an arrest.
I spoke to the head of the Winnipeg Police Service tactical support team, which is the new term for the old SWAT team that we were on. This is a 24/7 support unit that, from its inception to the level of coverage two years ago, has been involved in several hundred planned operations, mostly high-risk warrant service, drug warrants, Criminal Code firearm search warrants, and the like. He indicated that the gun registry is worthless in preventing gun crime. He did advise that, by protocol, members of his unit confer with the registry when planning tactical operations, but their experience was that the registry has been only sometimes accurate, only sometimes up to date, and largely ineffective—and I quote—“because we all know that criminals don't register their guns”.
By way of history, upon the inception of Bill C-68, the Winnipeg Police Association membership voted by way of referendum that they were strongly opposed to the long-gun registry. Identically, the Manitoba Police Association also opposed the long-barrel registry, after taking the issue to a vote by the membership. And so it went for the police associations in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Then-WPA president, Loren Schinkel, now with Manitoba Justice as coordinator of aboriginal and municipal law enforcement, often referenced Premier Gary Doer's line about the Government of Manitoba not supporting the bill, saying that we need to get tough on gangs and restricted guns, not turn goose hunters into criminals.
If the long-gun registry was going to be such a significant crime-fighting tool, does anybody believe that entire police services would fail to embrace it wholeheartedly? Yes, fragments of police services utilize the registry by way of protocol, but with criminals not registering their stolen or smuggled handguns or cut-down stolen firearms, previously legally registered or not, it is of little use. Because of the hit-and-miss situation of any individual actually registering legal guns, because the registry does not keep up with the movement of individuals from place to place, because criminals do not register, no police officer could ever rely on a check against the registry to determine if a danger did or did not exist. A police officer must be ever vigilant, no matter the circumstance, and the fact that the registry might indicate that an individual or an address does or does not reflect legal gun registration is of little assistance, all things considered. The old possession and acquisition certificate did as much, without the arithmetic of counting guns.
The most alarming area of gun use escalation surrounds the ever-increasing street gang activity tied dramatically to the drug trade. As I deal on a daily basis with gang members in my current occupation and monitor their other criminal activities through my involvement with serving police officers in the criminal intelligence service, I can tell you first hand that gun crime is escalating and that handguns are far and away the weapon of choice of these criminals to enforce their piece of the drug trade pie. Anytime I get a gang member in my office, I turn to the subject of guns somewhere along the way, and it is not unusual for the gang banger to brag, “I've got a nine; I've got a Glock.”
Shots ringing out in certain parts of Winnipeg have become commonplace activity, and drive-by shootings of individuals and residences the same. The registry is not the answer to stopping this.
The long-gun registry was an ill-thought-out piece of legislation in answer to the tragedy at École Polytechnique in 1989. It did not stop another similar tragedy at Dawson College in 2006. It will not stop the next deranged individual from attempting a similar attack in the future.
Holding the long-gun registry out as a protector of women is simply not valid. It is a lie. We must do better to protect women and the citizenry of our country by putting meaningful consequences in place for criminal offences and concentrate on stopping the flow of illegal gun traffic over our border into the hands of criminals.
A minimum sentence for gun crimes with minimum time served would serve as a far better solution than the long-gun registry. It is said that the abolishment of the two-for-one sentencing issue will increase incarceration and associated costs an additional $2 billion, roughly what we've spent on the registry already. Having only registered six million to seven million, with an estimated 17 million total guns in Canada, if that is correct, I wonder how much more money that would cost us. I would rather put the $2 billion towards keeping those criminals in jail and making sure they could not hurt anybody else.
Thank you for offering me this time to speak to you. I sincerely hope that what I've said will assist you in making an informed decision.
Paulette Smith
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Paulette Smith
2010-03-23 9:18
Good morning.
I have provided a photo of my husband, whose suicide was a direct result of the failure within the health service of the RCMP. My husband responded to a move to the north, and at no time during this time was he interviewed psychologically prior to leaving. He responded to an interview. He came home with a transfer paper, and at that time he had been transferred on three separate occasions in his career of 18-plus years, so he knew what a transfer paper was.
He indicated to me that he thought he had been transferred, and I said, “Well, that's not possible, because we both would have had to go through a number of psychological interviews.” I have had friends go to the north as well, since I am an RN. I said, “Make sure that you give me lots of notice, because I too am busy in my work.”
He proceeded to go to the interview and discuss a position that was possibly available. At no time was he interviewed, but he was promoted to go to the north. I was not given a psychological interview at all. As a spouse, I was given a piece of paper and sent home to review it and send it on.
We proceeded to the north. At that time the conditions were unbelievable in the place where we went. Support was minimal in a number of factors. He reached out and said, “I can't do this any more. I don't know what is wrong with me. I don't know what is wrong with me.”
He contacted his division supervisor. We then went to K Division headquarters in Edmonton. We met with psychological professionals and force physicians. The psychological physician was not within the force; she was an outsourced member. During the interview, I was with my husband at all times. I made sure of that. Even if I wasn't invited, I made myself invited.
Paul responded to a question that is mandatory. He was asked if he had any issues with self-harm or harm to others, and his response to the question of suicide was yes. Her response was, “You have a few issues we have to talk about.” He was asked where his family was. He said it was down east in Ottawa and Nova Scotia. She said, “Fine, I'll refer you to Ottawa.”
We went on to Ottawa. It took some time for the appointment to actually get made to go forward. We then went in. The doctor indicated within an hour and a half over a two-day period that nothing was wrong with my husband, but indeed he was going about this blindly. He had not been given my husband's work file, and I said, “Dr. So-and-so, I am a nurse. How can you be evaluating us with no file?”
His response was that it was never given to him. He said this was common. He said, “I go to the north on a monthly basis for a period of five days a month.” He works for three days a week. He is not a member, nor does he know anything about being a member.
Within a two-day period, my husband was told that there was nothing wrong with him. He was told, “You are normal.” He walked out and said, “Dear, I'm normal.”
We were posted to Ottawa. We bought a home, and while signing the papers for the home, we received a call to come and pick up his side arm. Within three days he took his life. We were told that he was normal, that nothing was wrong.
Throughout his career, as you see.... You may not be able to tell from his photo, but my husband was six feet three inches and 265 pounds. He was a gentle giant. He never asked for help until then, and the resources were not there. The people we met were not trained to recognize what was wrong with him. He didn't know what was wrong with him.
When we sat with the Ottawa psychologist, Paul opened up completely. “Okay, just a sec,” he said, “we'll start.” Paul had no issues in opening up and reiterating what was going on, but not necessarily what was wrong with him. To be told by one psychologist that you have a few issues, and to answer “yes” to suicide....
I'm not a member, but I am a member's wife. At no point in time did the psychologist take me aside, for the sake of 15 minutes, and say, “Mrs. Smith, I have grave concern” or “I have concern. These are the things I want you to watch for.” I'm not sure why she didn't, but when the response to a mental health issue and burnout is “yes” to suicide, I don't think it leaves much of a question of diagnosis.
As a nurse, I think we can all identify with someone breaking an arm. We have tools to identify that. We bring you into emergency. We do an assessment. We take photos and X-rays. We determine that the arm is broken, that the bone is fractured. We put on a cast. We assess you. You come back in four to six weeks, and we do another assessment. We have tools to assess for mental health issues as well, and for burnout.
Members, my husband is not the only one. There are many members. As Mr. Brown said, they self-medicate through abuse of drugs and alcohol and through many other ways as well.
Paul didn't choose to do that, obviously. I think his feeling was to suck it up, and that was the feeling that was given to him through the actions and the treatment within the health issues. That was what he was given to deal with this issue. He had none. It was, “Turn around and go out the door. You're fine. Go back to work.” He was told, as I sat in the office, that he was fit for duty. This was from a psychologist who works on contract for three days a week.
I ask you to consider what these men have to say, realizing that first-line personnel--RCMP, firefighters, EMTs, persons of that sort--are all high-stress individuals in high-stress jobs, and not everyone deals with their issues in the same way.
My husband paid the ultimate price. When he asked for help, it wasn't there. It was not provided. I am not quite sure why, in the total sense, but he did everything he could do.
Thank you.
Ruth Martin
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Ruth Martin
2010-03-16 15:41
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, for inviting me to be a witness.
I come wearing three hats. I juggle a few hats, but these are the ones I'm wearing today.
As a prison family physician, I've worked in corrections systems for 16 years, mostly with women and mostly in the provincial system, but I do have some experience with men's facilities and federal systems.
The second hat I wear is as a clinical professor in the UBC department of family practice. Amber has talked about some of the research in which I'm involved.
My third hat, more recently acquired, is as director of the Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education. It is a group of academics and community organizations--actually anybody who wants to join--that is looking at ways to facilitate collaborative opportunities for health education research service and advocacy for people in custody, their families, and communities.
I'd like to share with you five personal reflections that I formulated about mental health, primarily in female corrections. These personal reflections are consistent with prison health publications, which I've footnoted in my written submission to you. I'd be happy to supply any of the documents to you if you'd like to read them further at a later stage. Don't hesitate to ask me.
It's well established that prison populations throughout the world suffer more ill health than the general population, and that female prison populations suffer more ill health than male prison populations. As a prison physician I've witnessed this over the years. As I've witnessed women cycle in and out of the system over the years, I've come to learn that most women are incarcerated because of crimes due to their disordered health and social lives. Therefore I've come to realize and reflect that the key to women's successful reintegration into society lies with figuring out how to empower incarcerated women to improve their health.
The second reflection pertains to the aboriginal people, who are tragically overrepresented in our systems. Over the years I've listened to aboriginal patients and aboriginal colleagues explain to me about their understanding of health. They've taught me that mental health is not a stand-alone thing. It is closely interwoven with a person's physical, emotional, and spiritual health. I realize that I started off in my career with a very Eurocentric or western-centric view of health, and I've come to appreciate that in order to engage incarcerated people to improve their health, we all need to improve our cultural knowledge and sensitivity.
My third reflection that I wish to share with you is that women with incarceration experience are experts about their own health. This was reinforced for me during this participatory health research project that we started in prison. I thought we would focus our research on HIV, hepatitis C, and addictions, but in fact when we asked women in prison what they would like to research in order to improve their health they told us they wanted to become better mothers. They wanted to become involved in meaningful work. They wanted to improve their community support and have safe housing.
The goals that women in prison identified that were important to improving their health were very similar to my own goals and probably to your goals. They are consistent with the public literature that pertains to mental health, social inclusion, and health promotion. All of these published studies agree that in order to improve the mental health of a population we have to affirm people's self-confidence, engage people in decision-making processes, and focus on people's strengths rather than their deficits. Doing so will enhance their sense of hope and their belief that they can succeed and change.
A fourth reflection that I've learned through my work with the collaborating centre is that numerous multi-sector organizations are keen and eager to collaborate with prisons to foster health. In fact, they recognize that they should be playing a role, particularly in two components of service.
First, individuals in prison should be offered the best multidisciplinary, patient-centred prison services that we can, including health. The second component is that during their transition to the outside community, individuals should be offered well-coordinated continuity of care. I can share three examples of that: inter-ministerial collaborations in other countries on health, academic collaborations on health, and collaborations at the local prison community level, if you wish.
The final reflection I wish to address is that most of the incarcerated people I've met are not mentally healthy. The prevalence rates, as you know, vary, depending on how you diagnose mental illness or how you measure it. In the literature it varies from 12% up to between 76% and 80%, and you've heard those figures in the statements of your previous witnesses.
Most of the women I see in prison clinics do not fall into a mentally ill psychiatric diagnosis, nor do they warrant transfer to a psychiatric hospital or treatment centre. However, the majority of people I have met in prison suffer from mental health difficulties such as anxiety, insomnia, flashbacks to previous trauma, depressive episodes, interpersonal conflicts, and poor impulse control. Many also have substance dependence, which is associated with their mental health difficulties. Some may be related to an under-diagnosed or under-screened condition such as a learning difficulty or fetal alcohol syndrome.
Regardless, women in prison across the board tell me that if they could figure out how to improve their mental health while they're inside prison, they will have a better chance of succeeding when they leave prison. I have reflected on about six suggestions--probably more--over my experience of working with people in prison, and also reading the prison literature.
The first one would be that incarceration in this country should be viewed as an opportunity for individuals to improve their mental health and to turn their lives around. Therefore, we should be doing everything we can to nurture processes inside prison that demonstrate success in improving health.
The second one is that we should be incorporating into every correctional system participatory processes that listen to and act upon the voice of individuals with incarceration experience about ways to improve mental health.
The third one is that prisons are really stressful places to work. There's a real tension that staff experience between nurture versus security and it's very wearing on prison staff. The mental health of inmates is really influenced and impacted by the morale of prison staff. Therefore, prisons should adopt what the literature calls a “whole prison settings approach” for health promotion that engages staff and inmates, because then prisons will become more effective in helping the mental health of inmates.
The fourth suggestion is that healthy prison environments should be fostered, because healthy environments will reinforce the educational benefits of inmates who participate in prison educational programs. By contrast, unhealthy prison environments will negate and undermine the benefits of these programs.
The fifth one is that prisons that use creative alternatives to solitary confinement foster healthier mental health both for the staff and for the incarcerated individuals. The use of solitary confinement does not enhance an individual's mental health. It worsens it, especially among those with pre-existing mental health difficulties. In Canada, therefore, we should support and commend prison management teams that do not use solitary confinement. In fact, we should discourage the use of solitary confinement in Canada.
The sixth suggestion is that because the overall prison ethos influences the mental health of inmates and staff, we should do everything we can, from top ministerial levels all the way down the chain, to support prison management teams that create and sustain a healthy prison ethos.
Thank you very much for listening to my reflections, and I welcome your questions.
Brenda Tole
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Brenda Tole
2010-03-16 15:49
Mr. Chair and committee members, I am very pleased to be here and to have this opportunity to speak to you regarding these very important issues within corrections.
My experience is in the British Columbia corrections system. I spent 36 years in this field, both in community and custody settings, and have worked with youth, men, and women. The last position I held was warden of the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women.
British Columbia has benefited over the years from its relationship with Correctional Service of Canada. CSC is generous and resourceful when sharing research and program and policy information. The provincial system houses remanded and sentenced offenders and immigration detainees. The maximum sentence length is two years less one day in the provincial system. However, people often spend long periods, sometimes several years, remanded and awaiting trial. All offenders who are admitted to CSC have been in the provincial correctional system prior to their admission. In B.C. there are approximately 2,500 in custody and 25,000 supervised in the community on bail or probation on any given day. The difference in sentence length has huge implications for program and service delivery and community reintegration, but both systems face many similar challenges. Corrections has a mandate to ensure public safety while exercising humane control. Balancing public attitudes to offenders with research and best correctional practice is a very difficult process.
This committee is focused on offenders with mental health disorders and offender programming. I'd like to talk a bit about interventions and initiatives that I have found to have a positive outcome for staff, contractors, and offenders in a custody setting. I'm going to focus on women offenders, which is the area of my most recent experience, but many of these issues are relevant to both populations.
Women make up approximately 10% of the custody population and due to the small numbers have been greatly influenced by the larger male population in areas of physical plant design, security, classification, risk needs assessment, and programs. When we opened Alouette Correctional Centre for Women, we had an opportunity to slowly move away from a model focused on security and control towards a more pro-social offender responsibility model. It is very difficult to move away from long-standing attitudes and ideas around safety and security. However, we found the more normalized environment made the centre safer for staff and inmates, and institutional violence and use of force incidents were greatly reduced.
I am mindful of time, so I will briefly list some of the factors I felt contributed to positive change at this centre.
The actual physical plant design and centre environment have a significant impact on staff and offenders, particularly those offenders suffering from mental health disorders. All benefit from access to natural light, fresh air, regular physical activity, and non-controlled movement whenever possible. It is important to note that this type of building is generally much cheaper to build and to maintain. Classification of women to the least restrictive setting needs to be a high priority. Women, particularly aboriginal women, tend to be classified to higher security levels than required. Placing people at the least restrictive setting using a good classification process immediately rather than making them apply for or earn the placement is a much more consistent and efficient process. All offenders, particularly those with mental health disorders, manage much better in a less restrictive and therapeutic setting.
For example, we had a number of offenders at Alouette who were on remand prior to moving to Correctional Services of Canada. They managed for periods of over a year at a medium open centre, which is what we had. When they were sentenced they moved to the federal system, and then were required to stay in a maximum security setting for two years due to policy. That's an example of how, from the viewpoint of classification, you can have a huge impact. Policy has no flexibility. It makes it very difficult to actually do what's in the best interests of everybody.
Offenders have a huge interest in programs and services in a correctional centre and if engaged can contribute to defining their needs. Open communication with staff and administration can reduce the development of a negative subculture, which often operates in a correctional centre. Offenders, supervised by staff, should be encouraged to take responsibility for appropriate aspects of programs and operations. Aboriginal women seem to be even more impacted by the isolation from their family and community. Programs that facilitate the return of these women to their community, under supervision of band or community justice components whenever possible, seem to present the most positive outcome. The ever-increasing over-representation of aboriginal women in custody continues to be of grave concern. It is a tragedy, and I do not think that more aboriginal programming and services within our present correctional environment will impact the situation.
Supporting aboriginal governments, organizations, and service providers to assume more responsibility for the management of aboriginal offenders presents the most promise.
Mutual respect between staff and offenders is critical for a safe and secure environment. Staff who engage offenders with respect and who focus on being professional and helpful contribute to an environment that is pro-social. A better working environment affects staff recruitment and retention and lowers rates of staff absenteeism. The positive aspects of good staff-offender relations are seen in program interest and participation. It needs to be recognized that the negative effects of being in custody increase with sentence length.
Good health services are one of the most important components of the correctional centre. Physical and mental health professionals who work in coordination with corrections in delivering consistent and timely health services, including preventive education, are essential. Providing health services to a community standard is an ongoing struggle. There is also a need for continuity of care upon reintegration into the community. Partnerships with provincial health authorities could provide continuity of care and community standards and would promote a “patient first, offender second” approach. Staff training from forensic mental health services has helped our staff, in the past, understand mental health symptoms and non-compliant behaviours from a different perspective. It has also exposed them to hospital model interventions for dealing with offenders who have mental health disorders.
The use of segregation, other than for serious disciplinary matters, has a very negative effect on offenders, particularly women and those with mental health disorders. I have not seen any benefit from isolating an individual from support, comforts, and human contact for extended periods of time. If anything, this procedure tends to escalate problem behaviours. What has benefited these offenders is not isolation but rather extra staff or contractors to engage with them and close attention from health professionals.
Self-harm is a very complex and difficult issue. In four years at Alouette, we had one minor incident of self-harm occur, and it was not repeated. I think it's important, when looking at self-harm, to see it not in isolation but to see it basically in the environment in which it happens. It's really a symptom of extreme emotional distress.
On women and their children, a high percentage of women in custody have dependent children. Women are often in centres that are large distances from their children and families. This should be a major consideration in any administrative transfer. Initiatives that promote and foster contact between women and their children is beneficial to both. These include enhanced visits, email, tapes, telephone calls, and letters. Research shows that the children of incarcerated women are more negatively impacted if the contact with their mothers is limited or absent. One of the most compelling factors for women to change their behaviour or lifestyle is pregnancy and having children. Having a supportive mother-baby program at Alouette had an amazing, positive impact on the mothers involved and on the other inmates and staff. This initiative was basically a health initiative, and it was done in conjunction with the Vancouver Women's Hospital, which had requested that we give consideration to it. They worked very closely with us on that program.
Of the 12 mothers who brought babies back from the hospital and were released to the community with their babies, 11 have remained out of custody. The initiative was also a partnership with several other ministries, community agencies, and women offenders and their families. It was based on the best interests of the child.
The one thing that is not in my notes that I would like to make a comment on is reintegration. Integration is really a combination of having the community involved inside the centre and with offenders outside the centre. The community is a very interested group that is quite willing to participate inside the centre. It will provide expertise and the standards of the community. That applies to a number of areas, including what Dr. Martin has talked about in terms of health, but also in terms of education and job preparation and vocational courses. There is an amazing source of information and program availability actually sitting right in the community.
I think it's really important for the community to have involvement in the centres. It's a way for the public to gain an education on what actually works for offenders and not necessarily the public perception we sometimes have, which is quite negative. It also reduces the fear factor.
In terms of increasing the number of temporary absences and the ability for offenders to return to the community, I think that supportive transitional housing in the community, particularly accommodation for women and children, is essential.
It's important to recognize that women tend to be associated with the same risk that men present to public safety, which is simply inaccurate. When it comes to release into the community, for that population, I think it presents an opportunity to really increase the access that women offenders have to the community.
I want to thank you for this opportunity. I'd be happy to answer questions the committee has.
Thank you.
Gerald Duguay
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Gerald Duguay
2009-12-04 9:36
I'd like to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to appear at this hearing to testify on the implications of poverty on individuals with mental illnesses.
Social assistance plays a crucial role in determining the extent of poverty in this province. The agency's vision includes this statement: We strive to ensure that diversity is respected, that people feel accepted and valued, and live with dignity and security. We work with the community to support Manitoba children, families, and individuals to achieve their fullest potential.
That statement is at odds with the fact that individuals with disabilities receive income benefits that are roughly 50% of the poverty line, according to low-income cutoffs.
I realize that social assistance is beyond the purview of this hearing; however, this provincial program is partially funded through the Canada social transfer.
Living in poverty has several implications for individuals with mental illnesses, starting with a lack of access to safe, affordable housing. We were involved in a research project sanctioned by the University of Manitoba, and one of the individuals we interviewed on a participatory action research project on perceptions of recovery stated:
How do you expect people to take care of their physical self, take care of their mental self, and actually move forward in the recovery process, when...there's no money to do that? Because your physical wellbeing has a lot to do with your mental wellbeing. That $271 really
--excuse my language, but this is what she said--
pisses me off. That's all you get for rent. You know the areas you end up living at on $271 aren't exactly conducive to, you know, a good recovery or even a recovery process.
That basic amount for housing has been moved up. I think it's $285 a month, plus there's a Manitoba housing allowance of $50. That's still only $335. You're not going to find much in housing for $335 a month.
A female consumer, regarding the lack of personal safety as a result of inadequate housing, stated:
Can you just imagine getting up every morning...being afraid...going to bed every night being afraid ...just being afraid constantly.
Our key informant psychiatrist, regarding what would better assist mental health service recipients in their recovery, stated:
Let's start...with homelessness or know poverty...those issues that you recognize particularly during PACT, because if you can move people into decent living arrangements...if you can provide for them some meaningful work opportunity, even if it's still recovery from some disability. Many of these people are penalized because they want to work, but they can't work a certain amount because they're going to get their hands slapped. So you can' know, there's always another barrier. You have to ask why can't we start somewhere and do a transition into something meaningful work-wise without getting people feeling like they can't get off welfare? I can't get off this because I'll be high and dry. How will I get my medications paid for? Well it's ludicrous, right? Let's look at how people are remarkably moved forward by simple little things that would build self-esteem and would give them a sense of self.
That would include housing, employment, and education.
Regarding other barriers to recovery from a mental illness, a consumer stated, “...a barrier for me mainly was lack of achieving an education and employment”.
My personal experience regarding education and employment has been that success breeds more success. Having come to education and real employment later in life, I can attest to the importance of a decent education and working in a meaningful occupation. Achieving an education and having what I consider to be real employment, because it's something I want to do, has worked wonders in my recovery. Actually achieving an education--and I worked for it--and then getting a meaningful job has worked miracles. I can't stress enough the importance of that aspect in recovery from a mental illness.
I had to rely on social assistance for my income for a few years, and I know what it's like to live in poverty. It was one of the most degrading experiences of my life. The income amount was insufficient to meet my needs, and the lack of income, contrary to encouraging me to get a job, only succeeded in doing the opposite. A person doesn't dream or plan for the future on the amount of money social assistance provides; a person survives day to day.
I have some suggestions.
First, initiate and operate a basic income program for persons with disabilities, specifically including persons diagnosed with mental illnesses.
Increase the Canada social transfer to the provinces and ensure that the money goes to the social programs it was intended for, through collaboration with the provinces. Make housing a primary federal concern for individuals with disabilities.
Support individuals with mental illnesses who want and need education by developing more supported education and training programs.
Support individuals with mental illnesses who are able to work through supported employment programs and training. Encourage employers to hire individuals with mental illnesses by providing resources for employers to implement workplace accommodations. Increase the success rate of programs by consulting with individuals with mental illnesses on what works for them.
Individuals with mental illnesses should be consulted in the development and implementation of any programs or services that are designed for them, instead of finding out after you've spent a billion dollars that the program just doesn't work. That would be a cost-saving measure. It kind of makes sense to find out first if people are really interested in a certain kind of program.
Thank you.
Peter Ford
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Peter Ford
2009-11-05 12:28
My name is Peter Ford. I am a physician recently retired from the department of medicine at Queen's.
For the past quarter of a century I have been looking after patients with HIV and associated diseases. Also for about a quarter of a century I have been looking after federal prisoners with HIV, which I do by going into the prisons on a regular basis.
At any one time I have 35 to 50 patients in the eastern Ontario area with HIV. Ninety-five percent of these have hepatitis C, which is, in this particular context, a marker of intravenous drug use.
Because of this high prevalence of hepatitis C in the HIV population, we did some studies back in the nineties--the first one was in 1994--to see what the prevalence of HIV and hepatitis C was in the institutions generally. We looked at a medium security institution in the Kingston area and did an anonymous study, which showed us that 28% of the inmates had hepatitis C and 1% had HIV.
We repeated that study in 1998, by which time 33% of the inmates had hepatitis C and 2% had HIV. With the second study we did a detailed questionnaire, which could be linked to the blood samples anonymously. What we discovered was that almost everybody who had hepatitis C had a history of intravenous drug use. The people who gave a history of sharing injection equipment had the highest incidence of hepatitis C. But the most alarming thing that came out of that study was that there was a group of people who had not injected outside prison but had shared injection equipment in prison, and two-thirds of these people were positive for hepatitis C.
So what we're looking at is a problem with a communicable blood-borne disease, which is being imported into the prisons and is proliferating within the prisons. That has some very serious public health overtones, because these folks are going to get out and they're going to go on doing what got them infected in the first place. In addition, hepatitis C can be spread by sexual transmission--just under 10% is spread by sexual transmission--so the risk is going to move beyond the intravenous drug users to their sexual partners.
The long-term health costs of this are very considerable. It costs about $20,000 to treat somebody with hepatitis C. The treatment is not always successful. The treatment is not always possible because the patients don't identify themselves or because they're not suitable for treatment--and there are some reasons why people do not get treated.
The end product of hepatitis C is liver failure. Liver transplantation due to liver failure from hepatitis C is now the largest cause of liver transplantation in North America, and we're only in the early stages of this epidemic. The epidemic of hepatitis C infection has blossomed with the increase in intravenous drug use, but it takes 20 years to get to end-stage liver failure. So the big bulk of this problem is not going to arrive for quite some time yet.
Corrections is going to find itself looking after people with terminal liver failure, and this is a very expensive prospect. As a physician, I am very concerned about the amount of hepatitis C, and to some extent HIV, that is related to intravenous drug use in our institutions.
I have brought with me something that can be passed around, but if it is going to be passed around I would really asked that you don't open this container. This contains a syringe that was brought into our clinic in Kingston by a very frightened guard who had just stuck himself on it while doing a cell search. This syringe was probably the only syringe on the range from which it came. It's probably been used by at least 10 to 15 different people, several of whom would have been infected with hepatitis C and some of whom would have been infected with HIV.
You will see that this syringe, which is made from a ballpoint pen, tape, and a needle that probably came from an insulin syringe, is dirty. It's not possible to clean it. There is no way you can clean this syringe, even with the best intentions. These syringes are not only responsible for transmission of hepatitis C, HIV, and hepatitis B, but they are also responsible for a large number of rather nasty injection site abscesses that I see in the course of my work in the prison. I think this is a problem that also needs to be addressed.
Thank you, sir.
Graham Stewart
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Graham Stewart
2009-10-27 11:12
Good morning.
I'm here today as a co-author of A Flawed Compass: A Human Rights Analysis of the Roadmap to Strengthening Public Safety. A Flawed Compass is the work of Michael Jackson, professor of law at the University of British Columbia, and me alone.
Having retired over two years ago from the John Howard Society of Canada, I am not a representative of, nor do I speak for, the John Howard Society of Canada. Craig Jones has that responsibility.
Leading up to the adoption of the CCRA in 1992, the office of the Solicitor General produced nine important papers that explored issues facing Canadian prison law, particularly in the context of the new charter. Those papers formed the substance of eight years of active public consultation. It is worth noting that the correctional law review analysis was based on a human rights perspective.
In 2007, the Minister of Public Safety created a panel to advise the minister on various important issues facing the Correctional Service. Chaired by Rob Sampson, the panel's report, along with all its recommendations, was accepted immediately by the government, without public consultation. It is now the transformative agenda for CSC, the Correctional Service of Canada.
I should begin by stating that Michael Jackson and I agree with the recommendations of the Sampson report with respect to mental health. They largely endorse the mental health strategy developed by CSC in 2004, which we also support. The important observation, however, is that mental health services are very much part of, and are influenced by, the overall correctional setting. Other correctional policies and practices can completely undermine the best plans for mental health and the noblest intentions of staff. In that respect, many of the panel's recommendations for mental health are severely compromised by other recommendations. In part, the lack of coherence has occurred because the approach of the panel completely ignored human rights.
Why are human rights essential as the foundation of correctional policy? One reason is that the purpose of human rights is to protect all citizens from abuse by the state. A prison system that is not respectful of human rights is one that necessarily tolerates abuse. We know of no evidence that abusive, arbitrary, or unfair treatment improves a prisoner's prospects for success after release. Abuse teaches that might is right, the very values that often lead to criminal acts in the first place. Effective corrections cannot occur outside a human rights framework.
The road map ignored the report the CSC commissioned in 1997 by Max Yalden, former chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. In doing so, it also ignored his caution. He said:
It is particularly important to recognize the fundamental nature of Canada's commitments in light of the fact that some members of Canadian society, including some CSC employees, do not necessarily share the values underlying the Service's human rights framework. In that context, it is essential to make it clear that the principles and provisions incorporated in the CCRA derive from universal human rights standards supported by all the advanced democracies with which Canada compares itself, that the Service holds itself accountable to those standards, and that it is actively committed to making them work in federal correctional institutions.
Yet this is the response given in a CFRB interview by Minister Van Loan to questions about the criticism contained in A Flawed Compass:
Prisoners have the full protection of the Charter of Rights. They have the Office of the Correctional Investigator to look into complaints. That's not the issue here. The issue is, how do we protect the rights of the people in the community, Canadians, to be safe from the threat of criminals?
There is no totalitarian regime in the world that does not espouse human rights, so long as they do not threaten whatever they define as public safety.
Our system invests tremendous resources in preserving the right to be free from crime through police, prosecution, courts, imprisonment, supervision, and so on, all without cost to the individual. But there is virtually no publicly supported mechanisms that help us preserve our right to be free from abuse by the state.
In real terms, the charter offers no significant protections in the face of a government that chooses to disregard human rights when it suits them. We need to know that our government understands human rights. We need to know that our leaders believe in human rights. We need to know that they appreciate that defence of our human rights is at the very core of democracy and, as such, it is their fundamental obligation to safeguard them, both in law and in practice. A road map for the future of corrections in Canada and its treatment of prisoners that cannot devote a single footnote to human rights, and a Minister of Public Safety who tells us that human rights are incompatible with public safety, is not a good start.
A human rights analysis of corrections and the treatment of the mentally ill within correctional settings leads to many fundamental questions that might guide the work of this committee. Some of those questions would include the following.
Can a system that is respectful of human rights and the decent treatment of those in its care place the severely mentally ill in segregation for long periods of time without even providing a thorough psychological assessment or treatment activity?
And could it refuse to implement the minimal safeguards of independent adjudication for those placed in administrative segregation or pretend that the charter and the correctional investigator could protect their human rights?
Would we tolerate a system where we pretend that the mentally ill have ready access to effective grievance and redress systems, particularly where their literacy and mental condition often make such grievances impossible to prepare?
Could a system that is respectful of human rights accept that while the Sampson panel is pending its recommendations to remove some of the residual rights for those in segregation, a 19-year-old mentally ill girl in segregation strangles herself to death in front of guards, who have instructions not to intervene unless she stops breathing?
Can we accept a correctional system that acknowledges that most of their population has serious mental health and/or addiction issues, and yet spends only 2% of revenue on programs?
Given that addictions in prisons consume most of the population and commonly co-exist with mental illness, can we accept that none of the Sampson panel recommendations relating to drugs addressed prevention, harm reduction, or treatment, while 13 recommendations would toughen enforcement, often by further restricting visits? Would we accept recommendations that see family and community support only as security problems, without any acknowledgement that both the prisoner and the family are entitled to visit and are dependent on those visits to maintain their crucial relationships?
Would a human rights approach allow for more correctional officers than nursing staff on psychiatric ranges? In contrast are the many community forensic facilities where there are no correctional staff on the ranges at all. Could we accept correctional treatment facilities that have a fraction of the treatment staff-to-patient ratios that community forensic facilities have? Could we accept huge waiting lists for programs while the Sampson panel asserts that we need to deprive people of their rights in order to motivate them to take these programs?
Could we endorse recommendations to abolish statutory release, the only gradual release option that is sometimes available to the mentally ill and the otherwise disadvantaged, while knowing that thousands would be released to the community without support, supervision, resource, or follow-up treatment? Could we tolerate a system that keeps seriously ill or disadvantaged people in prison as long as possible, all the while telling them and the public that they can earn parole?
Would we accept broad-ranging, indeed dramatic, changes to corrections without evidence of effectiveness, and in the face of contrary evidence posted on the ministry's own website?
Would we tolerate the removal from the CCRA of the long-held principle of least restrictive measure for the use of criminal sanctions in administration of prisons?
Would we accept vague promises for improvements to our prisons, when sentencing and gradual release policies will inevitably strangle the capacity of the system to deliver on them through huge population increases, inadequate space, and shortage of adequately trained staff?
Would we accept the recommendations that CSC build super-prisons, a complex of prisons within prisons, containing all levels of security and special populations, without justifying carefully how it is possible to actually deliver diverse environments and programs in such a monolithic structure?
If we were concerned about the decent and effective treatment of people in our institutions, would we turn over the planning for the future of federal corrections to a panel of non-experts chaired by an obviously politically partisan chair, with an all-embracing mandate, minimal resources, an impossible 50-day timeframe, and no provision for public consultation on their recommendations? Would we do that with defence, health, or policing?
Would we accept a correctional transformation agenda that is based on a report that never mentions human rights or acknowledges the necessity for human rights to be at the foundation of effective corrections?
We believe strongly that the important work of this committee will fail if it does not reflect in its principles, decisions, and recommendations an unequivocal endorsement of human rights as the foundation for effective corrections and for the treatment of the mentally ill in prisons.
Thank you for your attention.
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