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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—
View Diane Bourgeois Profile
There is a correctional institution in my riding. It's in Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines. There is a minimum-security unit, a maximum-security unit and a regional mental health unit.
I'd like to hear your opinion on the mental health unit. According to the correctional investigator, we are seeing more and more mental health problems. Tell me about the consequences of having two inmates with mental health problems in the same cell. Can you also tell me about the impact of the lack of services and programs inside the facility and the impact on the correctional officer who must then return to his family environment? I'd also like you to talk about the bargaining talks that are now under way. I think that you are currently in court against the government.
I would like you to tell me about these three aspects very quickly.
Pierre Mallette
View Pierre Mallette Profile
Pierre Mallette
2011-02-15 12:31
First, the data on mental health from recent years show us that the number of mental health-related problems has increased.
The Correctional Service of Canada has five centres across Canada: one in British Columbia, one in the Prairies, one in Quebec, one in Kingston and one in Dorchester, in the Maritimes. I'll tell you that the five centres are operating almost at full capacity.
Actually, we can't put two inmates in the same cell in a mental health unit. Putting people with mental health problems in the same cell would run a huge risk of a serious incident. Something could happen.
Mental health is an area where we, the correctional officers, are faced with serious debates. Is the institution a penitentiary or a hospital? Is the person an inmate or a patient?
There's an energy—
Don Head
View Don Head Profile
Don Head
2010-10-19 9:02
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to the committee for allowing me to appear at a later date than you originally requested. My schedule was quite full, but I'm glad to be here today.
Good morning, and thank you, Mr. Chair and committee members, for the opportunity to discuss how the freeze on departmental budget envelopes and government operations will affect the daily operations of the Correctional Service of Canada.
I'd also like to address the impact on CSC operations that can be expected from the legislation connected with the government's criminal justice initiatives, in particular the Truth in Sentencing Act and the Tackling Violent Crime Act.
The freeze on the Correctional Service of Canada's departmental budget envelope and operations applies to operating budgets only, as you know. Operating budgets will be frozen at the current levels, and the freeze will also apply to 2011-12 fiscal year and 2012-13 fiscal year reference levels.
There is no freeze on wages. CSC employees will receive the salary increase for this year resulting from collective agreements and set at 1.5% by the Expenditure Restraint Act. As with other departments, the Correctional Service of Canada will absorb this increase as well as any increases to salaries and wages in 2011-12 and 2012-13 that result from future collective agreements.
Work is well under way at CSC to improve efficiencies within our operations to pay for these increases. For instance, we have introduced new staff deployment standards at our penitentiaries for our correctional officers. We are also now using computerized rostering systems to ensure that we are efficiently staffing our facilities on a 24/7 basis. This is improving our effectiveness by ensuring that our people know when and where they will be working their shift rotations well in advance. It will also help to reduce our overtime expenditures by more efficiently replacing correctional officers who are absent on training or leave.
We've also improved our integrated human resources and business planning methods to more accurately forecast our staffing and recruitment needs going forward. Because our penitentiaries must be properly staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, we make every effort to maintain our staff complement at appropriate levels. This is an important part of minimizing the overtime that would otherwise be incurred to fill vacant posts in our facilities.
Personnel costs represent our largest expenditure. For fiscal year 2010-11, Correctional Service of Canada's main estimates are approximately $2.5 billion, and personnel expenditures, including salaries and benefits, represent approximately 61% of the budget, or $1.5 billion. The rest is dedicated to operating costs, which represent approximately 25%, $625 million, and capital investments at approximately 14%, $329 million.
It's important to note that 90% of CSC's budget is non-discretionary and quasi-statutory. CSC has fixed costs that it must fund on a continuous basis. These include the provision of food to offenders, the utility costs related to the maintenance of our accommodations, clothing for offenders, and uniforms for our staff. The remaining 10% provides us with some opportunity and flexibility to seek out ways for us to meet the freeze on operating costs. I am confident that we will continue to find improvements in our program delivery that will help us to absorb these costs.
The government's criminal justice initiatives will present some opportunities for CSC as well as some challenges. The primary impact of the legislation will be a significant and sustained increase to the federal offender population over time. This will be particularly evident in the short to mid term.
As the members will know, the Truth in Sentencing Act replaces the two for one credit for time in custody before sentencing to a maximum of one day of credit for each day served in provincial detention. Only under exceptional circumstances may a judge provide a 1.5-day credit. Consequently, many offenders who would have previously received a provincial sentence will now serve a federal sentence of two years or more, and those who would have received a federal sentence will now receive a longer federal sentence.
Normally we would have expected an incarcerated population of about 14,856 by the end of the 2014 fiscal year. This figure is a result of our projections for regular growth, which is set at about 1% for male offenders and about 2.8% for women offenders. However, we are expecting an additional 383 offenders by the end of the 2014 fiscal year as a result of Bill C-2, the Tackling Violent Crime Act. And with the implementation of Bill C-25, the Truth in Sentencing Act, our analysis is forecasting an increase of 3,445 more offenders, including 182 women, by 2013.
Mr. Chair, this is a considerable increase over such a short period of time. The additional 3,828 offenders resulting from Bill C-2 and Bill C-25, together with our normal projections, represents a total growth of 4,478 inmates in the 2014 fiscal year and an anticipated total penitentiary population of 18,684 offenders by March 31, 2014. This growth, Mr. Chair, well exceeds our existing capacity today.
We are moving quickly to identify the measures required to address these population increases, and we are taking a multi-faceted approach. Several measures are now being developed, including temporary accommodation measures such as double-bunking. We are also now in the process of tendering for the construction of new accommodation units, program space, and support services within existing Correctional Service Canada institutions.
Regarding the expanded use of shared accommodation, I should note that it will be aligned with greater offender accountability. We expect offenders to be out of their cells engaging in programs and making positive efforts to become law-abiding citizens who can contribute to safe communities for all Canadians when they are released. These temporary measures will be implemented in a way that will minimize any adverse impact on front-line service delivery at our institutions. I assure you that with the proper support, any steps we take around budget implications and capacity issues will not jeopardize public safety or the safety of staff or inmates.
With respect to the new units, we can expedite the design and construction process by using proven and refined designs. Furthermore, we are strategically planning expansions at institutions located where we expect the greatest increases. Beyond expanding our facilities, CSC will be improving our program delivery capacity to meet the needs of an increasingly complex and diverse offender population. This includes programming for offenders who require treatment for mental health disorders and addictions, or those who are trying to break from their affiliations with gangs, particularly among our aboriginal offender population.
I should note that we are expecting the largest increase in our prairie region, where we will need 726 more accommodation spaces. As this region is where a majority of our aboriginal offenders are housed, we are currently reviewing our aboriginal corrections strategy to improve our delivery of education and employment training. This will assist in the safe reintegration of our aboriginal offenders back to their home communities.
Of course, there is a cost to all of this. Our current estimates are approximately $2 billion over five years in order to provide sufficient resources to address the additional double-bunking that will occur and to get the new units up and running. This also includes funds to ensure that we continue to provide offenders under our supervision with access to programs.
The assessment of this legislation's impact on CSC will be a long and complex process. As we continually monitor this impact, we will continuously fine-tune our approach to accommodate population increases and adjust our service delivery. We will also seek to connect this short- and medium-term impact with future requirements associated with the aging and inadequate infrastructure at some of our older institutions.
A long-term accommodation plan that will provide a forecast to the year 2018 is expected to be presented for consideration by this spring. As we move forward, we will be consulting with our partners and the communities in which we are located across Canada to ensure that we proceed in a transparent and collaborative fashion.
Of course, with the short- and long-term accommodation measures I've mentioned above comes a necessary increase in our staff complement. As indicated in the most recent report on plans and priorities, CSC is planning to staff an additional 4,119 positions across Canada over the next three years. This increase will enhance our capacity to carry out our mandate, help in our work with offenders, and improve our public safety results. I am very sensitive to the possible effects of an offender population increase on the work and safety of my staff in our penitentiaries and parole offices, whether they are existing staff or new hires. But I'm also very aware of, and extremely confident in, the commitment and ability of my employees to deliver high-quality correctional services that produce good public safety results for Canadians. I am speaking about our correctional and parole officers, our vocational and program staff, our health care professionals, and our support staff and management teams across the country. These are dedicated people, and the additional staff who will be added over the coming years will significantly help those who are on the ground today working with offenders.
We have been modernizing the way we select and train our correctional officers and other staff, and we work together with our union partners to make sure we are hiring the best-suited people who are committed to making a difference in the lives of others and the safety of their communities.
While it's clear that the criminal justice legislation and the spending freeze will pose some challenges, I am confident that the Correctional Service of Canada will successfully adapt and continue to provide good public safety results for all Canadians.
Mr. Chair, in closing, I wish to thank you for this opportunity to speak to the committee, and I welcome any questions you may have today.
View Diane Bourgeois Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you for being here, Mr. Head and Ms. Dumas-Sluyter. I am very grateful to you for your attendance. Thank you also for your patience at the start of the session.
As I listened to your presentation, I noticed that you were very familiar with the present situation in the penitentiaries. That puts you at a great advantage. Often witnesses we have had here were concerned with the bureaucratic aspects, but did not have the knowledge of the real situation that you do.
Mr. Head, I think we have to look at the present situation in the penitentiaries in order to be able to project and predict what will happen, given the two acts that you have to deal with and the increase in the numbers of offenders that will suddenly arrive at your door in the next few months.
At the moment, the situation is deplorable. I have in my hand some letters from CX employees, saying that their training has been greatly cut back. The training budget, which was more than $1 million, is to be reduced, in fact. So CX employees do not feel safe. They have to be trained to learn how to use their weapons, but that is not happening. That is the first thing.
Second, some institutions are overcrowded, which leads to a tense climate. Because of the overcrowding, inmates cannot get the hours of recreation to which they are entitled, in order to go into the yard, to take courses or work at their trades, or even to just do what they have to do—after all, there is some rehabilitation in prison. It all leads to climate of some tension.
Third, there is also a petition about CX employees that you received in 2010, I think.
So, this is the situation as we see it. We know that the two new acts are going to mean an increase in the number of inmates. We are aware that the correctional investigator has mentioned that the biggest population of people with psychiatric conditions are in federal prisons, precisely where the fewest psychiatric services are provided. You are telling us that you are aware of the problems and that the Correctional Service of Canada will be able to adapt. But, at the same time, the correctional investigator is saying that the Correctional Service of Canada is adapting, but it takes a long time to make any progress.
Mr. Head, what are we going to do to ensure the safety of the inmates in the Correctional Service of Canada's institutions, as well as the safety of the staff of those institutions and of those who reside in the vicinity, given the two new acts, the freeze in the budget envelopes and the fact that money is being used to build or expand inside? That is my question.
Don Head
View Don Head Profile
Don Head
2010-10-19 9:25
Thank you for that multi-level question.
I have a couple of comments. One of the things that we are ensuring as we move forward, as I mentioned in my opening comments, is that whatever we do, whether it's related to the changes in legislation, to departmental budget freezes, or to anything around our overall transformation agenda, is that the environment within which our staff work, our inmates live, and our visitors come to is safe and secure. That is paramount in all our decisions. We need to have a safe, secure environment for everybody who comes to those facilities.
We are, as you pointed out, very conscious of the impacts of an increased offender population coming into the facilities and what that could mean for the operating environment, the tension within the environment. We have had experience in facilities across the country where we have had double-bunking for periods of time in the past, so we do have some experience in managing that. But we are going to continue to monitor this very closely.
In terms of some of the other points you raised, I just want to mention that, as a result of budget increases in the last several years, we have been able to provide additional advanced or enhanced training to our staff, including our correctional officers. For example, we recently acquired new sidearms for our correctional officers and have just about completed the training of all staff on the new firearm.
Overall, our training budget has increased by about $24 million, so that's allowing us to provide training not only to our correctional officers but also to our health care staff, our parole officers, and our psychologists--the whole range of staff.
In terms of the mental health issues you raised and commented on, they are of concern to us, the number of offenders who are coming in with mental health disorders and how we respond to them. We have received some increases in our budget over the last few years, but there's still a lot of work to do. As I mentioned at previous committee meetings, unfortunately, we have become the default mental health system in the country. That's not the place I want to be. I believe those with mental health problems need to be treated in other places. However, we have to respond to the decisions of the court, and we're trying to respond the best way we can, both for those who are in the institution and those who are under our supervision in the community.
View Garry Breitkreuz Profile
We are moving into a public hearing.
I want to make it clear that this motion was one that I ruled inadmissible. A motion of censure by a statement is not possible at a committee. Committees do not have the authority to condemn the behaviour or statements by a member.
I just want to apprise the committee of that. I won't read the whole thing.
We will continue now with Mr. MacKenzie.
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
There is a problem. The problem is that this committee has no flexibility with respect to its timetable, an issue that was of great concern and great consternation to me at an in camera meeting that I can't talk about. But the end result of that was that this committee has an agenda—that's public, so I can talk about it—that sets certain days for certain matters. As I understand it—and any honourable members of the committee may wish to correct me—clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-391 was set for two hours for today and two hours for Thursday of this week. If my recollection is correct, next Tuesday and Thursday we are to give instructions to the analysts regarding a very comprehensive study on mental health and the state of corrections that this committee undertook last fall, October and November, with trips across Canada and to Norway and Britain, and hither, thither, and yon. I think it behoves us to move forward on that report, given the amount of time and money the committee has expended on studying mental health in corrections. I'm sure Mr. Davies, who's the mover of this motion, would not want to see all the work and time and energy and toil and labour he's put into studying the state of mental health in corrections be put off yet again.
I don't know how you prioritize the state of mental health in corrections versus Bill 391. Certainly the members on this side of the House are anxious to move forward. We support this bill wholeheartedly, at least speaking for myself, and I think I speak for all the members on this side of the table. The committee, as you know, Mr. Chair, is the author of its own procedure; it's the author of its own affairs. This committee has made a motion, and the motion was, as I understand it, to do clause-by-clause consideration today and Thursday. But there may be some technical problems with that.
I'm a little confused as to the starting lineup for today's match, because Mr. Davies—we welcomed him back a few moments ago when he made the motion—hasn't been participating in the hearing of the witnesses, and I was under the understanding that Mr. Comartin, the senior justice critic for the NDP, had a lead on this file. Is the problem that Mr. Comartin is not available today? I don't know. I would suggest, if that's the problem, that's not a legitimate or bona fide reason to adjourn what is to be clause-by-clause consideration from Tuesday and Thursday to Thursday and Tuesday of next week.
Maybe the amendments aren't ready. I don't know if the NDP needs more time. I don't know if the other parties are proposing amendments. I'm a little confused and I'm a little concerned by all of this. All that I do know—or I guess I might know more than this statement—is that the committee had resolved to do clause-by-clause today and clause-by-clause on Thursday of this week. This committee has set its own timetable, against this side of the table's strong opposition, essentially to the end of what was anticipated to be the spring session. So with Tuesday and Thursday already booked to do mental health and the state of corrections, I would suggest to you, Mr. Chair, that this motion is out of order, and I'm sure my colleagues would like to support me on this proposition.
View Garry Breitkreuz Profile
I'd like to bring this meeting to order.
This is the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, meeting number seven. We are continuing our study of federal corrections, focusing on mental health and addictions.
We would like to welcome our witnesses for the first 45 minutes of our meeting. Ms. Oades is deputy commissioner for women. Ms. Jackson is the director general of clinical services. Ms. Thompson is regional director of health services for the prairie region. We welcome you all.
Do any of you have an opening statement?
Jennifer Oades
View Jennifer Oades Profile
Jennifer Oades
2010-04-01 15:32
We do, for five minutes each.
Jennifer Oades
View Jennifer Oades Profile
Jennifer Oades
2010-04-01 15:32
Thank you.
Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and committee members. I'm pleased to have the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss issues related to the federal population of women offenders.
In my brief opening remarks, I don't want to repeat what the previous deputy commissioner for women related to you at her appearance last November. I'll instead use my time to bring you up to date on a number of developments in the women offender file over the past five months.
First of all, I understand that the committee had the opportunity to visit a number of our institutions late last year, including Okimaw Ohci, our aboriginal healing lodge, and the regional psychiatric centre in Saskatoon, where we have the Churchill unit dedicated to the treatment of women offenders who require intensive mental health care. As such, you were able to see two very different approaches to managing our complex and diverse women offender population. If the committee members intend to visit one of the five regional facilities for women to expand your knowledge of how we manage the majority of incarcerated women offenders in our care, I would certainly be pleased to organize that for you.
The area of mental health continues to challenge us. We are committed to look for new strategies that will work for everyone: the women offenders, CSC staff, and the general public. To this end, we are working with our research branch, particularly in a project to develop a national profile of the mental health needs of women offenders. This will help us to better target our interventions and provide more effective counselling and programming to the women in our custody and in the community.
We are also examining how we manage women who pose a high risk to other offenders and CSC staff. We are currently using a system called the management protocol. It has come under criticism from the Office of the Correctional Investigator and the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, among others. CSC agrees that the approach is not ideal and we are currently reviewing our strategy to move away from the management protocol. We have been engaged in national consultations with various stakeholders and experts over the past few months. I expect to receive a report of their findings in the near future, which will help guide the development of an alternative and more comprehensive approach that is more in line with a fully integrated correctional plan.
As part of CSC's transformation agenda, we are now in the final stages of implementing a community framework for women offenders that will provide more support and opportunities for these offenders when they're conditionally released into the community. Over half of the federally sentenced women are in the community. This framework will affect most of the women under our care. I am exceptionally proud of this new model that will enhance the continuum of care for federally sentenced women, better support their transition into the community, and help to achieve greater public safety results for all Canadians.
I continue to work closely with my colleagues in health services, the Office of the Correctional Investigator, and our other partners to ensure we exchange information and best practices on how to effectively manage our more complex cases. To this end, I hold teleconferences and face-to-face meetings on a regular basis with the wardens of women's institutions and other officials as needed.
I would like to state in closing that I'm delighted with the challenges this new job entails. I'm very excited to be part of the group of CSC staff who work every day to improve the lives of our women offenders and help them return to the community as law-abiding citizens.
Thank you.
Kate Jackson
View Kate Jackson Profile
Kate Jackson
2010-04-01 15:35
Ms. Thompson and I are pleased to appear here before you to discuss issues related to the opiate substitution program for the offender population within the Correctional Service of Canada. The commissioner, Mr. Don Head, and the assistant commissioner of health services, Ms. Leslie MacLean, appeared before you in June 2009 and provided with you with information about the mental health strategies and initiatives within CSC. Today we will brief you on the CSC's opiate substitution program.
Injection drug use, primarily the practice of sharing injection equipment, is a major risk in the transmission of infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C. Substance abuse is also a factor contributing to the commission of many crimes. Providing an opiate substitution treatment program to federal offenders helps to reduce the demand for drugs, thus improving our ability to contribute to public safety.
Research has shown that active participation in opiate substitution therapy is associated with positive release outcomes for offenders. Johnson et al. (2001) found that offenders who had participated in a methadone maintenance treatment program while incarcerated were 28% less likely to be returned to custody after release to the community than offenders who had not.
l'II provide you with the background on the program. Originally called the national methadone maintenance treatment program, it was implemented in two phases. In 1997, phase one allowed opiate-addicted offenders who were in a community methadone program prior to being sentenced to be considered for continuation of methadone treatment. Phase two, announced in May 2002, increased CSC's capacity to initiate treatment of opiate-addicted offenders requesting methadone if such treatment was deemed medically appropriate.
In December 2008 the methadone program was renamed the national opiate substitution treatment program because of the addition of an alternative opiate substitute medication called Suboxone.
When used in conjunction with cognitive programming, intensive monitoring, and support, opiate substitution has been found to be extremely helpful for opiate-dependent persons. These medications can help free the opiate-dependent person from the continuous cycle of withdrawal and opiate use. Stabilization on opiate substitutes allows offenders to concentrate in school and participate in programming and work, thus increasing their ability to actively engage in their correctional plan.
Prior to initiation of treatment, a detailed health and mental health assessment is conducted with each offender to determine whether the offender meets the necessary criteria, such as whether the offender has received from a physician a diagnosis of dependency to opiates. Congruent with community practice, the assessment process includes a review of the rules of the program outlined in a treatment agreement between the offender and care providers, outlining what each commits to, including the requirement for ongoing monitoring.
In 2009-10 the cost of CSC's opiate substitution program was over $12 million. As of January 2010, there were 701 offenders on opiate substitution therapy across the country, of whom 55 were women offenders. Due to offender flow-through, over 1,000 offenders are managed on the program by CSC every year. CSC's opiate substitution program is managed in a multi-disciplinary team approach, with involvement from case management, programs, and health services, and in accordance with national guidelines.
In 2009, of the 512 offenders who were admitted to the CSC opiate substitution program from the community, most were received from provincial correctional facilities. The majority of these facilities provide treatment to offenders who are already on methadone in the community. For those offenders entering CSC already on methadone, CSC maintains their treatment while they undergo assessment to ensure they meet the program criteria.
To ensure safety and security, offenders are observed for 20 minutes after taking their methadone, which reduces the risk that offenders will divert the medications. A nurse provides each dose directly to the offender and watches the offender swallow the medication. The offenders are observed for 20 minutes to ensure that most of the medication is absorbed.
All offenders in treatment are expected to participate in regular substance abuse programs, which are specifically geared to opiate dependence and delivered by trained program delivery officers. An offender's progress is monitored and reviewed on a regular basis through meetings with their individualized intervention team.
The opiate substitution program is subject to regular medical and institutional reviews to provide early identification of areas of concern, tailor educational training sessions for staff, and modify procedural policies.
Extensive preparation is done for any offender being released to the community on opiate substitution to ensure the transition is smooth and continuity of care is maintained. This process starts at the onset of initiation into the program. The availability of a community provider is reviewed and confirmed six months prior to release.
Thank you.
Heather Thompson
View Heather Thompson Profile
Heather Thompson
2010-04-01 15:40
I have no opening comments.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
Mr Chair, I'm going to start the meeting actually before my time, if I could, with just a point of order.
I think it's important that we have disagreements in this committee about whether or not one another's policies are better than another policy, but I think inferring motive on another member is very problematic. As members of this committee, Ms. Glover and I both did a forum, and it was stated that the reason why we have the policies we do is because we have a conflict of interest. We support criminals because they vote Liberal is what was said.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
It was said. It's part of the record.
Let me say this, Ms. Glover: you're a good person. I do not question your motives. I disagree with policies that you may advocate, but I never question your motives. The idea that somehow I care less about my children or my family than you do yours does a tremendous disservice to this process.
I would simply ask that Ms. Glover correct the record on that. It was an unfortunate comment, and I would ask her to correct the record. The exact words were that the Liberals have a vested interest because prisoners vote for Liberals. This is what you said.
I just think that this is the sort of discussion that infers motive on other members and I think is very disappointing. I would ask you, Ms. Glover, to retract the statement.
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