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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—
Kim Pate
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Kim Pate
2011-02-08 11:08
Thank you very much.
Thank you to the committee for inviting us to present. I'll keep my comments brief in the interest of being able to answer some of the questions from the committee. In reviewing some of the proceedings, I realized some questions have come up, so I will try to address those in a very broad way.
I want to start by acknowledging the traditional territory in which we have the privilege of meeting.
In my responsibilities working first with young people, then with men, and then for the last 19 years with women and girls in particular in the justice system, the impact of colonialization and contact becomes very clear when we see the number of indigenous young people--men, but most particularly women--in the prison system.
I also want to acknowledge that there are members of our organization whose interests I represent, particularly our 26 members across the country. They work with marginalized, victimized, criminalized, and institutionalized women and girls. We're best known for the work we do with women in prison, but we actually work with a full range of women. Some of our organizations are the only social service--the only women's service, the only victims' service--in some of their communities. That's part of the context.
I also recognize that I have the responsibility of bringing forth some of the voices of the women who can't be here because they are locked up or institutionalized. Some are in prison. Some are in other forms of detention, such as psychiatric detention and the like. I take that responsibility seriously.
We are now in a situation in which women are the fastest growing prison population in this country. They are also the fastest growing prison population in many other countries. In this country, they are particularly indigenous women, poor women, other racialized women, and women with mental health issues. Those percentages cover a range, except that it's very clear that women who have self-identified as being indigenous women are now more than a third of the federal jail population. More than a third of the women serving federal sentences, and almost half of the women serving sentences of two years or more in this country, are racialized women.
We also see, according to the latest statistics coming out of the Office of the Correctional Investigator, that as many as 45% of those women have significant mental health issues. Not surprisingly, when you look at the indigenous women, you see a significant number of those women, particularly among the women who are dealing with the 91% rate at which they have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse prior to being incarcerated. Their victimization is very clear. Many of them have been left without resources in the community and so have ended up having to self-medicate, in many cases, sometimes with legal and sometimes with illegal or illicit medication or drugs. They often are women who have very few fiscal or financial resources. They often have very few social and personal supports and end up very marginalized very quickly. We've seen cuts to social programs, cuts to health care, and cuts to educational services in this country, so it's not a big surprise that these are also the women who are most clearly impacted by those cuts.
When you look at violence against women generally, and the backlash we've had in this country over the last two decades to much of the important work that's been done on violence against women, again you see the disproportional impact on indigenous women and the way in which that trajectory feeds them right into the streets, where there are very few resources.
The only system that cannot turn its back on them is the criminal justice system. They can be criminalized for anything from being on the street to being seen as a nuisance. When they're being prostituted, often they'll be picked up on charges of armed robbery and robbery when they're actually trying to negotiate payment for the sex acts they've provided. They are often reported by the individual who refuses to pay. We have a number of women in prison, particularly indigenous women, in that situation.
We've seen police not come when they've been called when these women are experiencing violence. They have essentially been deputized by the state, but we've had the withdrawal of state support and then the invasion of state support when it comes to following up after they have been left to defend themselves or defend others.
You would know well many of the stories. You've been across the country and have heard some of the stories of 9-1-1 calls not being answered until there is something else besides the situation of a woman being beaten. If you need stories, I can give you stories of the number of women who talk about having called the police.
The police don't come when they're called as a result of a woman being battered; they come when they're told that the woman has actually had to defend herself, that she might have stabbed someone who has attacked her or that sort of thing.
You know about the issues of the decisions to prosecute even in situations in which there may be defences. I can also give you examples of the numbers of times women plead to charges even when they know they have not committed the offence for which they've been charged. That's for all kinds of reasons. They're expected to by their families. They're expected to by others. They don't want to sit in custody, waiting. Contrary to some of the rhetoric we hear, they don't actually want to sit on remand and in custody for extended periods of time.
Even after those situations have occurred, we also have situations in which we've succeeded in encouraging women to appeal their sentences. A woman successfully appealed as recently as last month. After winning an appeal after she had defended herself against an attacker, her sentence was overturned, the conviction was overturned, and a new trial was set. When she was asked to potentially go for bail, she could not put up any property because she and all of her family lived on-reserve, and on the reserve, of course, the band council owns the property. Even though I offered to put up my house as a surety, she refused that.
Everybody agreed that she had a very strong case for self-defence. Clearly the crown did too, because when she won her appeal, the crown immediately offered her a deal to plead. She initially had been convicted of second-degree murder, and the crown offered her a deal of manslaughter and time served. That's what she ended up agreeing to, because she didn't want to sit in jail for another year or two awaiting a new trial, even though there was a strong case of self-defence. She wanted to get back to her child and get back to the community.
There are many other examples. Suffice it to say that I'll look forward to the questions.
View Irene Mathyssen Profile
Thank you very much.
Unfortunately, c'est tout.
I will now be undertaking the questioning for the New Democratic Party, for seven minutes, and I would like to say welcome once again.
I'd like to pick up on Madam Simson's very good question regarding the article written by a member of Elizabeth Fry relating to the excessive incarceration of aboriginal, Métis, and Inuit women. According to the article, 30% of the female prison population is aboriginal, and 30% of those are experiencing issues with mental illness. I believe the article said that in terms of incarcerations, this represented an increase of 90% since about 2001.
I believe Madam's question was in regard to the cost to the women and their families and the broader community. I'd like to give you the opportunity to speak to that.
Claudette Dumont-Smith
View Claudette Dumont-Smith Profile
Claudette Dumont-Smith
2011-02-03 11:44
Yes, there was an article put out in response to a study that was carried out by Ms. Mann, I think, and it did identify what you just said, that a disproportionate number of aboriginal women are incarcerated.
Although we haven't done any work in this area for quite a few years, we do know that aboriginal women have serious mental health problems. We do know there are no specific programs--not that we're aware of anyway--to address their mental health issues. We also know and believe that general health programs do not always respond to the specific needs of aboriginal women. Many of our aboriginal women will respond to culturally appropriate healers, or what have you. Especially when it comes to mental health issues, you can't apply the same set of tests or the same therapies when it comes to aboriginal women.
We're hoping that article will encourage the government maybe to approach us because we're always ready to work with the government to improve the health and well-being of our aboriginal women. Our arms are open on this issue to work with them to develop some programs that will really meet the needs of the incarcerated women.
I'm sure that the more we delve into this issue we'll find a lot of very bad scenarios, whereby a lot of these aboriginal women are probably in isolation. They're not connected to their families and they're not connected to the people in their communities. So I think it's an issue that has to come to the fore and has to be addressed.
And I reiterate that NWAC would be more than willing to work with the departments on this issue.
Jeannette Corbiere Lavell
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Jeannette Corbiere Lavell
2011-02-03 11:48
I would just like to make one final comment. It is on the lack of resources to get legal assistance. This is perpetuating that high number of our women who are incarcerated because they cannot get a lawyer. When they go to court, they obviously get the strictest sentence. If they had lawyers, they possibly would not receive this kind of sentence.
So there they are, then, within these prisons, and for a longer period of time, and where, because of lack of communication and I guess the cutbacks, they're not able to get this culturally relevant programming that should be in place to help them deal with the system while they're incarcerated. On top of all of that, their children have been taken away, and they have no resources and possibly no way of even finding out or knowing where they are.
This is all compounding for them, so no wonder they're having mental issues. I would be devastated if I had to go through something like that. You're dealing with what may be a legitimate case against you, or maybe not. That's the issue. If our women were able to get some legal resources, I don't think we'd have as many in there.
Another issue is poverty. They're there because they don't have the money and they have to provide...and I don't think that can be applied to other Canadian women like it can to our women. We have younger women with many children who are having to deal with this.
Kathy Langlois
View Kathy Langlois Profile
Kathy Langlois
2010-12-14 8:56
Thank you, Madam Chair, for the invitation to appear before the committee.
I am pleased to be here, to have the opportunity to present to you, and to respond to any questions the committee may have.
In follow-up to my colleague's presentation, I will describe Health Canada's Indian residential schools resolution health support program and the steps we have taken to support former Indian residential school students and their families, including actions taken to reach out to clients of Aboriginal Healing Foundation projects.
Through the Indian residential schools settlement agreement, the Government of Canada is responsible for providing mental health and emotional supports to former students of the schools and their family members as they participate in the common experience payments, the independent assessment process, Truth and Reconciliation Commission events, and commemoration activities. Health Canada provides these supports through the resolution health support program, which includes a range of culturally safe services for eligible former students and their families to address issues related to Indian residential schools, including the disclosure of abuse, throughout the settlement agreement process.
The resolution health support program is comprised of four elements: cultural support, emotional support, individual and family counselling, and transportation assistance.
Cultural support services are provided by local aboriginal organizations. Through them, elders or traditional healers are available to assist former students and their families. Specific services are determined by the needs of the individual and include dialogue, ceremonies, prayers, or traditional healing.
Emotional support services are also provided by local aboriginal organizations. Through them, an aboriginal community-based worker who has training and experience working with former students of Indian residential schools will listen, talk with, and support former students and their family members throughout the processes of the settlement agreement. These community-based workers are of aboriginal descent and many speak aboriginal languages.
Access to professional counsellors is also available. Professional counsellors are psychologists and other mental health professionals such as social workers who are registered with Health Canada and have experience working with aboriginal people. A professional counsellor will also listen, talk with, and assist former students to find ways of healing from residential school experiences.
In addition to these services, assistance is provided with the cost of transportation to access professional counsellors or traditional healers and elders, if they are not available in the individual's home community. Through this program, Health Canada provides access to over 1,700 service providers, including professional counsellors, community-based aboriginal workers, elders, and traditional healers located in every province and territory throughout Canada.
As a result of a greater number of common experience payment applications and increased rates of independent assessment process hearings, demand for this program has increased significantly in recent years. Program expenditures have steadily increased as we provide service to more people--from $5.1 million in 2006-07 to approximately $37 million in 2009-10.
Budget 2010 announced an additional $65.9 million over two years for the resolution health support program. The new money, plus the existing program budget that was there before, will result in a total budget of $47.6 million in 2010-11 and $46.8 million in 2011-12, allowing us to meet the demand for services under the settlement agreement, including the new demands that have resulted from the start of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission events.
The resolution health support program is one of several mental health and addictions programs funded by the federal government that provide important community-based services to first nations and Inuit families. Health Canada funds over $200 million in mental health and addictions services annually to first nations and Inuit communities through a variety of programs, which include the national native alcohol and drug abuse program and the national youth solvent abuse program, which provide both residential treatment services in 58 facilities, as well as community-based prevention programming in over 550 communities. There are also the Brighter Futures initiative and Building Healthy Communities program, which address mental wellness issues and crisis intervention programming, with funding provided directly to communities to support action on their own mental health priorities in over 600 communities. The national aboriginal youth suicide prevention strategy provides support for approximately 200 communities for youth mental health and suicide prevention strategies. And the non-insured health benefits program supports a short-term mental health crisis counselling benefit for first nations and Inuit across Canada.
Health Canada also recognizes the important work of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation over the last 12 years. Since the closure of 134 Aboriginal Healing Foundation projects, Health Canada has focused on ensuring that all eligible former students and their families who have received services from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation are aware of and may access health support services provided by Health Canada.
Health Canada is proactively responding to the needs of these former students and their families by increasing awareness of the resolution health support program and by ensuring access to this program. For example, prior to the end of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation projects on March 31, 2010, Health Canada's regional directors wrote to and made direct contact with the managers of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation projects to make them aware of the process to refer their clients to the services offered by the resolution health support program.
This effort to raise awareness is in addition to other activities that have been ongoing. Since 2007, over 420,000 brochures describing the program have been sent directly to former students, band offices, community health centres, friendship centres, nursing stations, treatment centres, and many other meeting places across the country.
Health Canada is also working to increase access to communities that were previously served by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation projects. We're doing this by identifying communities with high numbers of eligible former students but low rates of resolution health support program demand, and then following up by negotiating new service agreements to provide health supports consistent with the program criteria. In some cases, we've been able to work with an organization that delivered former Aboriginal Healing Foundation projects in order to build upon the staff and community expertise the organization has developed.
In Nunavut, for example, Health Canada officials met with organizations formerly funded by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, the Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre and the Kivalliq outreach program in Rankin Inlet, where we discussed the continued need for health support services. As a result, $1 million in new funding was provided to deliver the program services in the Kivalliq region of Nunavut.
In Ontario, five new service provider arrangements have been entered into and two existing agreements have been amended to meet the increased demand for health support services. This resulted in the addition of 30 new community-based health support workers delivering mental health and emotional support services.
Those are some of the examples of how Health Canada is responding to the closure of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation projects. In total, Health Canada's regional offices have created, or amended upward, 55 contribution agreements with local aboriginal organizations across the country to ensure continued access to the program services.
These steps demonstrate that the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring former students are aware of and have access to mental health and emotional support services. The government remains dedicated to supporting former students and their families as they participate in settlement agreement processes.
Thank you for the opportunity to present today.
Thank you for giving me your attention.
View Nicole Demers Profile
View Nicole Demers Profile
2010-12-14 9:15
While you are looking, I will talk about something else.
You spoke about the Kivalliq Outreach Program in Rankin Inlet. I know that this community has one of the highest suicide rates in Canada. Last year, when I was in Iqaluit, a young 16-year-old took her life. I find that very disturbing. In Nunavut, there are more young people than older people. We are losing complete generations of young people. It is very important to have effective health services on site, and they must be as comprehensive as possible. It is even better when people of their own nation are trained to help them. Are there Inuit people who can provide the services?
Kathy Langlois
View Kathy Langlois Profile
Kathy Langlois
2010-12-14 9:16
I agree. I share your point of view.
I can tell you that, in Rankin Inlet, we established a contribution agreement thanks to the project that was already funded by the Foundation. This year, through a contribution agreement, we provided $1 million to the Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre.
That made it possible to keep everyone who spoke Inuktitut—perhaps not everyone who was there before, but a good number of their employees—to provide the same service. It consists of a counselling service funded through our program by Health Canada.
This year as well, we established contribution agreements worth more than $1 million in Iqaluit. We know that in Nunavut, in particular, the Foundation's services were widely available. Our analysis indicated that something had to be done to provide services there.
View Sylvie Boucher Profile
My other question pertains to mental health and emotional support. Under the settlement agreement, what are Canada's obligations with respect to mental health and emotional support services for individuals who experienced the trauma of residential schools?
Kathy Langlois
View Kathy Langlois Profile
Kathy Langlois
2010-12-14 9:23
The section of the settlement agreement that speaks to this says:
Canada agrees that it will continue to provide existing mental health and emotional support services and agrees to make those services available to those who are resolving a claim through the Independent Assessment Process or who are eligible to receive compensation under
—there's probably a typo here—
the [Common Experience Payments]. Canada agrees that it will also make those services available to...those participating in truth and reconciliation or commemorative initiatives.
As a result, we have created the Indian residential schools resolution health support program, which provides three types of services: cultural supports from elders and traditional healers based on the previous iteration of this program, for which we received very positive feedback that it was a very valued element to have as much cultural support as possible; then our resolution health support workers, who also are aboriginal in descent and speak aboriginal languages, which is deemed to be very important as well to support people as they go through this process; and lastly, our professional counselling component for those who would choose those services.
Those are the services we offer in addition to transportation.
Aideen Nabigon
View Aideen Nabigon Profile
Aideen Nabigon
2010-12-14 9:24
May I add one thing, Madam Chair? With regard to future care under the independent assessment process, the government also provides $15,000 for psychiatric care and $10,000 for counselling, if this is requested. To date, the average payments for those have been about $8,400.
Kathy Langlois
View Kathy Langlois Profile
Kathy Langlois
2010-12-14 9:46
Thank you very much for the question.
As I mentioned, we spend $200 million per year on our other mental health and addiction programs. These programs will continue to be available in the future.
Kathy Langlois
View Kathy Langlois Profile
Kathy Langlois
2010-12-14 9:53
I can answer on that from the health perspective, and will do so.
The significant funding that I'm aware of is that when the Mental Health Commission of Canada was created in 2007, I believe the following year they received $10 million. Perhaps it was more than that, and I shouldn't be quoted on that number. I apologize, I don't have it at my fingertips. But they received a significant amount of money to undertake five projects in urban settings around mental health and homelessness, and a key part of that funding is indeed to develop housing. I'm familiar with a significant investment through the Mental Health Commission of Canada in five cities to look at this issue of mental health and homelessness.
View Cathy McLeod Profile
So 40,000 sought payments. How many of those sought additional help, in terms of psychological help, either through healing foundations or through Health Canada's programs?
Kathy Langlois
View Kathy Langlois Profile
Kathy Langlois
2010-12-14 10:06
Unfortunately, at this time, with our reporting we aren't tracking the sex of the participants in our healing programs, but it's something we're planning to do in terms of being able to give the breakdown between males and females who access our program.
I can tell you the numbers of former students and family members, but I can't tell you the male-female breakdown.
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