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Results: 1 - 13 of 13
View Peter MacKay Profile
Mr. Wilfert, I would encourage any and all input from this honourable committee in any studies you undertake. I agree with you that the priority has to remain the men and women in uniform, and the services provided to them.
I was proud this weekend to announce another of the joint personnel support units, which I know you're familiar with. They are really designed to bring together all of the various support services and programs available to the men and women in uniform, veterans, and their families, and make them more accessible, more readily available, and more easily understood, and to also increase things such as mental health care professionals. We still have a goal to double the number of mental health care professionals. This is particularly challenging, as you can appreciate, in certain remote areas where we have smaller Canadian Forces stations and bases. We want to try to have a standard of care that is available to all.
We've made significant investments in the care and treatment of grievously injured veterans as well. This remains a focal point of the Department of Veterans Affairs, but we naturally work very closely with the department.
I'd like to take this opportunity to share with you another initiative that we hope to have in place very soon. It is to allow for, and in fact encourage, the continued service of those who have been injured in combat and in the line of duty. I've undertaken quite extensive discussions with the assistant deputy of personnel, as well as the Chief of the Defence Staff and others.
I would share with committee members the very poignant and quite humbling experience of having seen two of our injured soldiers who have returned to Afghanistan with the Van Doos regiment. Both of them suffered very serious injuries, yet they are serving actively in Afghanistan. The Chief of the Defence Staff and Chief Warrant Officer of the Canadian Forces promoted them while they are serving in Afghanistan, just this past week. It was certainly a very emotional and morale-boosting experience for the troops present to see this happen, and to see the absolute courage and conviction of these soldiers to return to Afghanistan after having suffered grievous injuries there on previous tours.
We hope to institutionalize that, by the way, to make sure that members are encouraged and embraced, should they choose to stay in uniform after having suffered those injuries.
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.
Adeena Niazi
View Adeena Niazi Profile
Adeena Niazi
2009-12-10 9:23
Good morning, everybody, and thank you for inviting me.
I'm going to do a brief introduction of our organization and programs, what works well and what the challenges are, and also cover some recommendations.
The Afghan Women's Organization is committed to promoting the successful settlement of newcomers and refugees in Canada by providing a wide variety of programs and services with a unique service delivery approach. We also provide assistance and protection to refugees through sponsorship to Canada. Annually, we serve over 5,000 clients of all ages and genders, with special focus on women and their families. The majority of our clients are from the Afghan community, but we are pleased to see we are getting an increasing number of clients from several other newcomer communities as well. The vast majority of our clients are refugees who have experienced trauma from war and violence. Most of the refugees who arrive in Canada have left loved ones behind. Moreover, women refugees generally have special needs distinct from those of men. Therefore, we provide professional innovative services to this vulnerable population, with the respect they deserve and the cultural and linguistic sensitivity they require.
Our services are managed by staff, most of whom can relate to the refugee experience and current circumstances of the clients. We also have a large number of committed volunteers, and we also have equally committed partners--the partners are from the settlement and other sectors as well. Over the past 19 years, our settlement staff and volunteers have identified clients' needs while serving and assisting newcomers upon their arrival in Canada. We acknowledge that settlement is a long process. Our clients want to realize their full potential in contributing and becoming full participants in the Canadian social, economic, and political society. For this to happen, Canada has a positive responsibility to be flexible to allow its new members the full opportunity to contribute to its resources.
The question is how effectively the services could be provided and how we could integrate them. In terms of assisting newcomers to adapt, it is important to prioritize the services. To get a better sense of how to prioritize the services, it is important to reflect on the settlement process of newcomers. It is generally accepted that immigrants go through three main stages of settlement in Canada: an immediate stage, an intermediate stage, and a long-term stage. In the immediate stage, newcomers require a range of services, such as completing essential forms, food, shelter, and information. In the intermediate stage, immigrants learn more about how to access and enrol in a number of Canadian associations and situations. The long-term stage involves diverse and much more differentiated elements that facilitate the long-term participation of individuals in Canadian society.
The Afghan Women's Organization, as an ethnic-based organization, has been involved throughout the three stages of the settlement process of many of its clients and has played a role in connecting new immigrants to mainstream Canadians. At this time, I'll be talking about some of the programs that work very well for our organization and for our clients.
Language instruction for newcomers to Canada, or LINC. The LINC program is unique in that it offers women-only classes. This allows many women to attend class and acquire necessary language skills that they may not have been able to get otherwise. Our women-only classes create a high level of comfort and an environment that is warm and friendly for refugee women. Research has found that offering women-only classes is the most effective way to help women learn a language. On-site child-minding facilities and transportation assistance allow many women to benefit from the program.
Our youth program is also a unique program because it focuses on youth at risk. We also provide aggression replacement training for youth, and we provide counselling referrals and other programs, which have been very effective.
The seniors' program is a new program that is very helpful for seniors with multiple problems. Family programs assist families who are experiencing integration conflict. The ISAP services are also provided in a traditional way.
On the challenges we are facing here with Afghan women's organizations, women's needs are distinct from those of other members of the community. There is a need for supportive early settlement integration of immigrant women with special strategies and programs.
Many women are in caregiving roles and also supporting their family members. Therefore it is important to acknowledge the immigrant woman's role in the family by recognizing the family unit in the funding and programs for settlement and integration.
Immigrant and refugee women are not a homogenous group with the same needs. It's important to recognize the diversity within immigrant women, such as culture, language, family patterns, historical experiences in trauma due to war, and age differences. Therefore the best practices in settlement and integration programs should encompass the diversity and provide a range of services to meet the identified needs of the women.
The best practices in settlement and integration should also provide a holistic approach to meeting immigrant women's needs, rather than the silo approach of meeting only selected needs.
I have some recommendations. First, most of our clients who require settlement services have their citizenship and are not entitled to the services. Settlement services are restricted to landed immigrants. They are important for the women, because when they come here they put their own needs on hold and take care of their families. By the time they are ready to receive the settlement services, they are already citizens and aren't entitled to them. So I recommend that criteria for settlement services be expanded to include citizens.
Second, most of the newcomers, especially women, have to wait three months for OHIP. That also creates problems for them, especially when they are pregnant and cannot see a doctor.
Third, newcomers also face a big gap when it comes to mental health services. Many agencies only provide services to clients who are diagnosed with severe mental health illnesses. Often some of the mental health issues for newcomers are not considered severe, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and migration stress. Settlement services are not funded to deal with such issues. I recommend that mental health should be taken into consideration in future funding for the settlement organization.
View Rick Dykstra Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I appreciated Mr. Bevilacqua's comments, as usual.
I do have a couple of questions that arose from the presentation. One of them, Ms. Niazi, had to do with the three recommendations you made.
On the third part, in terms of the gap in mental health services, I do think this is one of the issues that our government has addressed. In 2006 we received a review of the mental health in the country and the focus that the country needed to take. It was actually co-chaired by a Liberal senator and a Conservative senator. It ended up being in the 2006 budget, and we actually worked through the implementation of that strategy with seven or eight locations across the country that have become foundations in terms of moving the strategy forward. I think we are moving in that direction.
The reason I brought it up is that I think the issue of mental health in this country is not subject to just new immigrants. It is an issue that we face as a country, because it is something that has been ignored for far too long. I appreciate your bringing that forward.
I just wanted to reinforce that it is an issue. I think this actually goes across party lines, despite who did or didn't support a particular budget. The 2006 and 2007 budgets, with specific regard to this issue, were supported by all parties. It is not something that we have taken lightly from a government perspective.
I have a bit of concern around expansion of the criteria with respect to settlement services for those who have become Canadian citizens, because it does open the door from a use perspective. It also opens the door from a cost perspective. I hesitate to say that I can agree with you on that point. I would like to give you the opportunity to see how we would address that issue.
If we open it up for all citizens, it becomes a very difficult issue to manage. There are opportunities, obviously, for those who have become citizens to further their education and their understanding of Canada, including the new document that has been put together by the ministry for new citizens and those who are coming to the country to be able to learn about it.
I would ask that you comment on that, because I have no idea how we would afford to be able to do that.
Adeena Niazi
View Adeena Niazi Profile
Adeena Niazi
2009-12-10 10:40
Thank you very much, especially on the mental health. I really appreciate that.
I meant that if the settlement organizations are also supported and receive funding, especially to deal with the mental health cases, that would be very helpful. There are mainstream services, but we have the experience, when we send out clients. First of all, it's not competent for the needs of the client. There's not the understanding, sensitivity, and also the language. We had a project funded by the United Way. It was very positive and it worked very well. It would be good if the organizations were also funded.
In terms of criteria, we have met some immigrants, especially seniors, who lived here for many years and have become citizens, but they don't know their address. They have their address; they show it. There is a great need for them. They do need settlement services. If they approach us, it means there is still a need. After three or four years, people become citizens here.
As I mentioned, when the women come here, first they take care of their family, then they get some low-income job, whatever it is. For the citizenship, the language that's needed is very basic, but it's not enough to qualify them or make it easy for them to get employment, especially for people who come with high qualifications. They need higher language classes, like ELT.
We have many clients coming to our office who are in dire need of services, but we cannot provide that service under CIC-funded programs. We get just enough money to work with them, but the work we're doing is not at the same standard.
James Livingston
View James Livingston Profile
James Livingston
2009-10-29 11:13
Thank you very much.
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.
It's an honour to have this opportunity to speak to you today about mental health and addiction services in correctional settings. My name is James Livingston, and I'm a researcher with the Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission of B.C. Mental Health and Addiction Services. The Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission is a multi-site provincial health organization in British Columbia that provides specialized hospital and community-based assessment, treatment, and clinical case management services to adults with mental illness who are involved with the criminal justice system. I'm also a PhD candidate in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University.
When individuals with mental health and substance use problems are detained, imprisoned, or are supervised in the community, opportunities arise for detecting untreated illness, reducing suffering, and improving quality of life. Too often this opportunity is missed.
Earlier this year I was commissioned by the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy to undertake a study of international standards and best practices in relation to the provision of mental health and substance use services in correctional settings, including jails, prisons, and community-based corrections. The centre is an independent international institute based in Vancouver, British Columbia, with a mandate to promote the rule of law, democracy, human rights, and good governance in criminal law and the administration of criminal justice domestically, regionally, and globally.
The research I undertook involved an extensive review of published and unpublished literature and a synthesis of the standards and guidelines contained in over 200 relevant documents. The preliminary findings of this review were refined through consultation with a small group of prominent experts in forensic mental health and addiction services.
I would like to spend my time providing you with an overview of our findings, which are detailed in a report entitled Mental Health and Substance Use Services in Correctional Settings: A Review of Minimum Standards and Best Practices. This report has been published and is available on the website of the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy.
Our review revealed that published standards and best practices regarding correctional mental health and substance use services generally cluster around five service themes, including screening and assessment, treatment, suicide prevention and management, transitional services and supports, and community-based services and supports. For each of these themes, both best practices and minimum standards are identified and discussed in our report.
For the committee's purpose today, I will focus on the minimum standards that were identified in our research. Minimum standards are conceptualized as the policies, procedures, and practices that have been identified as essential for addressing mental health and substance use problems in correctional settings. Generally, these standards are formulated on the basis of legal and ethical considerations, particularly those that concern human rights.
The first service theme identified by our report relates to screening and assessment. Published guidelines and standards unanimously assert that providing systematic mental health and substance use screening and assessment in jails and prisons is a necessary, essential service. Our review identified five minimum standards in this area--for instance, training all staff members who work with inmates to recognize and respond to mental health and substance use problems, and screening all inmates upon arrival at correctional facilities to identify emergent and urgent mental health and substance use problems.
The second service theme is treatment, which involves providing services and supports to individuals with mental health and substance use problems in order to decrease disability, decrease human suffering, maximize the ability for individuals to participate in correctional programs, and create safe environments for those who live, work, and visit jails and prisons. With respect to treatment, our review suggests eight minimum standards, such as providing inmates who have mental health and substance use problems with access to the same level and standard of care available to individuals in the community, and ensuring that written, individualized treatment plans are created and regularly reviewed for inmates with mental health and substance use problems.
The third service theme is suicide prevention and management. On account of the high rates of suicide in jails and prisons, organizations have made considerable efforts developing comprehensive guidelines, standards, and programs to prevent and manage inmate suicide.
Regardless of the size or nature of the facility, all jails and prisons should establish adequate suicide prevention and management programs. Our analysis of the literature suggests six minimum standards in this area--for example, training all staff members who work with inmates to recognize verbal and behavioural cues that indicate potential suicide, and how to intervene, and housing potentially suicidal inmates in safe environments that maximize interactions with staff and others and minimize experiences of isolation.
The next service theme involves transitional services and supports. For inmates with mental health and substance use problems, the transition between custody and community can be acutely stressful, psychologically distressing, and disruptive to their recovery and treatment. Our review has identified three minimum standards in this area, such as providing inmates who have mental health and substance use problems with written transition plans that identify available and appropriate community resources prior to their transfer or release from prison or jail, and ensuring that inmates with mental health and substance use problems who require continued pharmacological treatment are provided with a sufficient supply of medication that can last at least until they are able to see a community health service provider.
The final service theme identified by our review relates to community-based services and supports. The community corrections system has a significant role to play in ensuring that probationers and parolees have access to appropriate mental health and substance use services. Our review suggests five minimum standards in this area, including screening all probationers and parolees to identify emergent and urgent mental health and substance use problems, including potential suicidality, and ensuring that probationers and parolees with mental health and substance use problems have access to the same level and standard of care available to individuals in the community who are not involved with the criminal justice system.
In closing, we recognize there is no single blueprint for creating a correctional mental health and substance use service system. Implementation of minimum standards and best practices should be flexible, varying according the types of settings and population, as well as other contextual factors, such as geography and resources. However, the conceptual framework and the minimum standards and best practices outlined in our report provide a useful guide to inform decision-making concerning mental health and substance use services in correctional settings. Currently, the minimum standards described within our report are being considered for adoption by correctional authorities throughout Canada in order to assess the strengths and gaps of their systems in providing mental health and substance use services.
Thank you for this opportunity to share our work. Should the members of the committee be interested in learning more about the best practices and minimum standards described within our report, I can provide additional examples and elaborate on the process we undertook in our research.
I look forward to your questions and wish you all the best with this important study.
Thank you.
View Serge Ménard Profile
If this was compared to institutions or centres which are treating addictions outside of prisons, even if it might be a residential centre…
Have you heard of Portage in Quebec? It is a government organization inspired by the New York model.
James Livingston
View James Livingston Profile
James Livingston
2009-10-29 12:24
No, it's not from direct experience; it's from the literature, which is very rich. There has been a lot of work done in developing minimum standards in this particular area and studying the effectiveness of what approaches work well. This has been identified in the research and is unanimously supported by a range of international standards.
View Maria Mourani Profile
View Maria Mourani Profile
2009-10-29 12:25
If I am not mistaken, these are minimal standards, but it does not mean that they are already enforced. It might be that they are already implemented in our prisons as we speak. Is that right?
James Livingston
View James Livingston Profile
James Livingston
2009-10-29 12:25
Yes, they could be. My report just outlines them. They could be already applied.
And it might be of interest to the committee that I'm aware that a recent federal-territorial-provincial committee on prisons and mental health has had a look at my report and has built it into a self-assessment guide to measure and monitor their system across Canada. It might be of interest to follow that up a little bit.
View Maria Mourani Profile
View Maria Mourani Profile
2009-10-29 12:25
At this time, Correctional Service Canada has a very specific management program for persons who are put into isolation. From the time a person is placed in isolation not only is she in her own cell—there are never two people in the same cell—, but a guard is present who makes rounds about every ten minutes. Furthermore, a corrections officer must make a daily evaluation of the inmate's condition.
I thought at first that you were talking theoretically, but it is possible that this is actually going on in prisons in Canada. That is my understanding. This would be the ideal situation, but you cannot tell us if it is not already implemented in some federal institutions.
James Livingston
View James Livingston Profile
James Livingston
2009-10-29 12:26
No. As I said, I'm a novice in terms of what's happening on the ground, and I'm not an expert. I'm an expert on very little, especially having to do with the operations of corrections.
Nathalie Neault
View Nathalie Neault Profile
Nathalie Neault
2009-10-06 11:23
As Mr. Sapers noted in his remarks, federal offenders are excluded from the Canada Health Act. By virtue of this exclusion, the Correctional Service of Canada must directly provide essential health care services to offenders in federal institutions in conformity with professionally accepted standards. However, because the Regional Treatment Centres are governed by provincial legislation, committee members are encouraged to examine the differences in the physical structure, admission criteria, professional accreditation, consent to treatment guidelines and conditions of confinement at the regional psychiatric facilities across the country.
In that respect, the Pacific region stands out in that their treatment centre has the modern, open-concept architecture that promotes staff interaction with patients and offers more resemblance to a hospital environment. While the treatment centre in the Prairie region may not be as modern, committee members may notice that its infrastructure is more conducive to treatment than, for example, the medieval-like treatment unit that houses mentally ill offenders within the walls of Kingston Penitentiary. Committee members would be furthermore encouraged to speak directly and frankly with the Correctional Service of Canada staff psychologists and psychiatrists to gain their insights regarding the tension between clinical and professional practices on the one hand and security imperatives on the other.
On the addictions front, committee members may wish to inquire about specific harm reduction measures, including programs, services, treatments and supports offered to offenders struggling with substance abuse issues. In recent years, the Correctional Service of Canada has received millions of dollars in new investments targeting drug interdiction, operational intelligence, visitor screening, and monitoring and surveillance measures. Despite the fact that upon admission to federal custody, approximately four out of five offenders have a history of substance abuse, there has not been an equivalent focus of effort or commensurate infusion of professional resources for treatment, harm reduction and prevention strategies.
Committee members may want to inquire about waiting lists for substance abuse programs and the frequency of delivery of these programs as offenders approach their conditional release points.
In terms of the committee's examination of best practices, members of the committee may want to build on their visit of the Atlantic region by touring the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility, which is co-located with the Capital District Health Authority's East Coast Forensic Hospital. While each of these provincial facilities is independently operated, and offenders and forensic patients are separate at all times, it is interesting to note that the provincial health authority provides all the primary health services via clinics on the corrections side as needed, and corrections staff provide security for the forensic hospital. This exchange of professional services model could provide some instructive lessons and efficiencies in managing federal facilities.
Finally, I also encourage committee members to learn more about the Regional Reception and Assessment Centres, as it would provide some insight into how the Correctional Service of Canada currently assesses the needs and mental health status of offenders upon admission to the federal system. Early assessment and diagnosis of mental health and addictions issues is critical in creating a clinically sound treatment and appropriately sequenced correctional plan for every offender.
We trust our comments and suggestions will be helpful to committee members as you embark upon your study tour.
We welcome your questions. Thank you.
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