Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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Angella MacEwen
View Angella MacEwen Profile
Angella MacEwen
2015-05-26 8:58
Thank you.
On behalf of the 3.3 million members of the Canadian Labour Congress, we want to thank you for the opportunity to present our views today. The CLC brings together workers from virtually all sectors of the Canadian economy, in all occupations, and in all parts of Canada.
Part 1 of Bill C-59, which we're speaking to today, would implement a wide variety of income tax and related measures. Today our comments will be limited to three provisions: reducing the required minimum amount for withdrawal annually from the RRIF; increasing the annual contribution limit for the tax-free savings accounts; and renewing the accelerated capital cost allowance for investment in machinery and equipment.
First of all, in terms of retirement security, the changes to the RRIF withdrawals and the increases to the tax-free savings accounts are measures that are both related to retirement security, but it will be no surprise to members of this committee that the Canadian Labour Congress feels that expanding the Canada pension plan is a much better solution to the looming retirement security crisis in Canada. Changes to RRIF withdrawals benefit older workers who already have RRSP savings, but they do little for workers without the means to save through RRSPs. This is significant because only a third of Canadians today contribute to RRSPs, and the unused RRSP contribution room reached $790 billion in 2013. Eleven million workers in Canada have no pension plan other than the CPP. At the same time, the annual contribution limit for the tax-free savings account would increase to $10,000, as has already been discussed, and this measure would have an estimated cost to federal revenues of $1.1 billion by 2019.
Even at the maximum annual contribution of $5,500, the TFSA is projected to cost the federal government up to $15 billion annually, and cost the provinces another $8 billion when the program is fully mature. Doubling would further increase this cost almost exclusively to the benefit of higher income earners. In contrast, expanding the CPP would benefit all workers, follow workers who change employers or who have multiple employers, and be simple for employers to administer.
In terms of supporting manufacturing, we recognize that as a result of globalization, unfavourable trade deals, a high dollar, and the most recent recession, manufacturing in Ontario and across Canada has experienced devastating losses over the past decade. In recognition of this reality, we have long supported renewing the accelerated capital cost allowance for investment in machinery and equipment. This measure was first introduced in 2007, renewed in 2011 and 2013, and would now be renewed until 2026. While we support this measure, we want to note that corporate tax cuts have failed to spur business investment. In the same vein, we feel that continuing this accelerated capital cost allowance would be insufficient to support a struggling manufacturing sector in Canada.
Coming out of the recession, business investments in manufacturing have been very slow to rebound, despite the continuation of the accelerated capital cost allowance. In October 2014, the monetary policy report released by the Bank of Canada suggested that this is in part because of a semi-permanent loss of capacity in several manufacturing export sectors. Low interest rates and low taxes have not been sufficient drivers of growth. Weak and uncertain demand have played a significant role in subdued investment. All signs point to the need for the federal government investment in infrastructure to spur growth and therefore boost business confidence and private investment.
A singular focus on tax cuts has significant drawbacks. We note that while the budget 2015 documentation mentions the importance of investment in skilled labour in the same sentence as it mentions investment in machinery, government action on this front has been noticeably absent.
Let me remind the committee of some of the recommendations the Canadian Labour Congress has made in the past that would make a difference to investment in skilled workers.
One, establish a national skills council that brings key stakeholders together to identify skills gaps and develop strategies, policies, and programs to address them.
Two, establish a mandatory national workplace training fund. Employers with a payroll of more than $1 million who fail to invest 1% of their payroll in training should pay the shortfall into a public fund that is used to finance work-related training initiatives.
Three, increase funding for the labour market agreements, the LMAs, with the provinces and territories to help vulnerable unemployed workers, including immigrants, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, women, older workers, younger workers, and less skilled individuals.
Four, mandate employers to hire and train apprentices. The federal budget should ensure that those projects receiving federal dollars through the new building Canada fund and the investment in affordable housing program mandate employers to hire and train apprentices.
This budget further erodes the fiscal capacity of the Canadian state and rejects the opportunity to take advantage of exceptionally low borrowing costs and invest in the current and future needs of working people in Canada.
Thank you.
Jill Skinner
View Jill Skinner Profile
Jill Skinner
2014-10-28 16:18
Good afternoon.
While this legislation certainly does address important principles for victims' assistance, the language of rights employed in the new legislation, combined with the requirement that the rights of victims under the act are to be exercised through the mechanisms provided by law, may make it difficult for victims to identify their enforceable legal rights and corresponding remedies.
We suggest that clear, identifiable, enforceable legal rights and the corresponding mechanisms for exercising these rights will go a long way to assisting victims in navigating the criminal justice system. As Benjamin Perrin stated in his paper entitled “More Than Words”, on Bill C-32, “...a 'right' without a remedy in the event of its breach is no right at all.”
Second, responsibilities for implementing victims' rights are directed to “the appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system” and not to specific agencies, which may make it difficult for criminal justice partners to identify their respective legal responsibilities. Added clarity in this regard will direct victims to the appropriate agency and, where necessary, will allow them to take up any concerns through the appropriate complaints mechanism.
As indicated, the police are the most common first point of contact for victims and their families and play a critical role in ensuring victims know their rights. The consequences of inadequate or untimely information can be detrimental to a victim. Victims should have rights to timely, relevant, and easy-to-understand information regarding safety, programs and services, and the investigative, court, correctional, and parole process. In keeping with this goal of ensuring that all victims receive the same high-quality resources and supports, funding and support to police and justice partners will be critical in the implementation of the Canadian victims bill of rights.
Firstly, to ensure that victims have access to programs and services, consideration should be given to how accurate and consistent information will be provided to victims, particularly those who live in remote locations. The CACP supports the government's intention, as outlined in budget 2014, to “provide victims with online resources that will help individuals access the federal programs and services available for victims of crime”. In addition, the CACP supports the government's intention to create a web portal that will allow victims of federal offenders to view a current photo of the offender prior to the release.
Secondly, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police requests timely and complete information for law enforcement agencies to create victim response enhancements to be integrated within current training. Chiefs of police look to the Government of Canada to coordinate with a training institution—like the Canadian Police Knowledge Network—and to provide funding to develop education and training modules. Consistent federal funding would expedite the process of implementing the Canadian victims bill of rights within the provinces and territories and ensure these important rights can be implemented as immediately as possible.
Thirdly, in order to implement and deliver effective victim services and thereby increase confidence in our justice system, funding for sufficient resources across the country is imperative. The establishment of a police victims support fund, similar to the former police officers recruitment fund, to this initiative would help to provide the necessary supports.
Furthermore, in creating and funding victim resources and services, chiefs of police stress the importance of recognizing the historical trauma, unique awareness of, and respect for tradition and culture of first nations, Inuit, and Métis groups. The Canadian victims bill of rights should respond to the needs of victims in these groups in a holistic and culturally sensitive way. lt should also consider Canada's multicultural composition, specifically in ensuring access to information in diverse languages, which is critical in ensuring meaningful participation by all victims.
The Canadian victims bill of rights should enshrine core enforceable rights of victims of crime and the effective recognition of and respect for a victim's human rights and should ensure that needs, concerns, and interests of victims are valued and considered in a participatory environment.
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police victims of crime committee supports the principles advanced by the Canadian victims bill of rights. Chiefs of police stress the importance of ensuring resources are in place to ensure victims across the country clearly understand their enforceable rights and have timely and accurate access to information and services.
The CACP looks forward to continued participation during the consideration and implementation process of the Canadian victims bill of rights. We recognize that the victim-focused approach of Bill C-32 creates a solid foundation for victims and is the first step in enhancing victims' participatory and service rights throughout the criminal justice process.
Merci.
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much.
Thank you to the witnesses. This was extremely helpful.
We've heard that this bill is a good first step but that there have to be resources to back it up. I would like to ask any of you, if you felt there were amendments that would make the bill stronger or some commitments of resources, how those would look. I was particularly taken with Ms. Handy's remarks around having places for safe disclosure for children, because then you're more likely to get a conviction. I think a conviction is part of a victim's rights. The perpetrator shouldn't get off because there weren't resources to take the testimony in a safe way where people tell the whole story. I think we see that in...in abuse of physicians, by physicians, in women's situations.
I also heard from the police that you would like to see remedies; that means access to information in many languages, and how that could look. Should that be explained in the act? Particularly with indigenous languages, do people feel they really do know what their rights are as they enter into this place, as Timea has done with her clients? Maybe the police association or the native women would have an idea of what it would cost to actually support this bill properly. What kind of budget commitment would it take to show that this government takes this seriously?
Jill Skinner
View Jill Skinner Profile
Jill Skinner
2014-10-28 16:52
One of the specific areas we spoke about was the cost of training. The Canadian Police Knowledge Network is one example of an opportunity for police officers across the country to receive consistent information. This allows them to receive the training through electronic means. They go on the web and they receive that training. We provide them training through CPKN right now for thousands of topics. This could be an additional topic they would receive.
I think consistency across the country is one of the most important things for us. Each of our provinces has different legislation from a victim's perspective, but if we provide the training to our front-line folks, I think we're going to get the final message out to them. They are the pointy end of the stick. They are the ones dealing with victims every single day. For us to be able to provide that training, I think, is essential. Preparing that training is obviously one area that would require funding.
View Philip Toone Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to thank you for your input, which has been extremely insightful and helpful. I was profoundly moved by the account of what victims groups experience. I applaud you.
I won't have time to ask all my questions in the five minutes I have. Even if we were to spend the rest of the day here, we would only be scratching the surface as far as discussing what really matters is concerned.
I want to start by talking about victims' access to justice. Ms. Gaudreault said that making restitution to victims was not enough. The first thing that needs to be done is prevent people from becoming victims.
There is a problem. According to the definition in the bill, a victim is someone who has been harmed as the result of a crime.
As you said, Ms. Harvard, it's not always the case that victims are going to want to bring themselves forward and declare themselves a victim, to go through that process. It might even bring greater harm to them. That's a serious question, and I think we really need to look at that in this bill. We owe it to ourselves to look at that very carefully.
To the chief of police and the deputy chief, you said that often victims' first point of reference will in fact be with police services. You mentioned that possibly more training would need to be brought forward. I wonder if you could just elaborate. Was it understanding victims' situations better, or what kind of training were you referring to when you brought that up?
Jill Skinner
View Jill Skinner Profile
Jill Skinner
2014-10-28 17:21
It would definitely be directly in relation to what this bill provides; so that they would understand that victims have a right to protection and information; so that they get the exact points of this bill—rather than a general feeling of looking after someone, understand that there are rights that victims have and that they are required to provide those services.
It's really important that as a police officer.... What we try to tell our police officers in reality is “If this were a family member of yours, how would you want them to be served?” That's really the best piece of advice I could give anybody who's trying to create a bill: that's what we're trying to provide through this bill and through our training.
Timea E. Nagy
View Timea E. Nagy Profile
Timea E. Nagy
2014-10-28 17:26
Yes.
I'm not dismissing anything she said; I'm just speaking with regard to my province and my victims and the work.
How can that information be relayed to victims? It's just in the way we're working with victims right now. The deputy chief said training. Some investigators within human trafficking know that they can put on a screen, if the victim doesn't want to see the trafficker in court, but they have to put a lot of paperwork forward, and some investigators have no idea that they even have the option.
I can go through the whole bill and give you examples of how this bill is very helpful, if we actually implement the new amendments. It's just really going back to training and education.
Charlotte Bastien
View Charlotte Bastien Profile
Charlotte Bastien
2014-10-27 15:35
That's no problem.
As I was saying, the majority leaving the reserves would already have civilian employment. The unemployment rate for veterans is equal to the general Canadian rate—8%. The unemployment rate for veterans released due to injuries is about 15%.
Employment issues generally cluster around certain groups of veterans: younger veterans, those with fewer years of service, those in the lower ranks, and those who are medically released or involuntarily released.
The life after service study shows that 89% of regular force veterans released between 1998 and 2007 worked after release. The breakdown in numbers of veterans after release was as follows: 52.9% worked at a job or business; 20% worked at some point but were not currently working; 7.7% were looking for work; 10.3% were retired or not looking for work; 3.7% went from the regular forces to full-time work in the reserve force. The others included those who were not able to work, for example, because they were on disability, were caring for a family member, or were attending school.
Most veterans leaving the military reported adjusting well and beginning a normal life in the civilian world.
There are three key elements to VAC support in terms of employment: ensuring qualified veterans who wish to work at VAC have the opportunity to do so; providing benefits and services in a wide range of programs; and working with other government departments and not-for-profit and private sector groups to help people understand who our veterans are and what their needs are and to help develop opportunities to support veterans' employment needs.
Two key VAC programs to support releasing Canadian Armed Forces members are the career transition services and the vocational rehabilitation programs. In 2013 Minister Fantino announced changes that give more than 1,300 veterans taking part in our vocational rehabilitation program greater flexibility to access the tools they need for their training, which will cut down on wait times related to vocational assessments.
As a result of these changes, an expanded list of training expenses, such as those for required computer software, electronic books, campus parking, and training equipment are now considered in individual vocational rehabilitation training plans. Veterans are now also able to claim individual vocational rehabilitation expenses through an overall program funding envelope to a maximum total value of $75,800 per person. In the last five years, 3,381 participants have accessed vocational rehabilitation and vocational assistance through our national contract. As of June 30, 2014 there were 1,355 active participants.
Career transition services help veterans and their survivors find civilian employment, and provide funding for related training and career services consultation. They are available for up to two years after a veteran's date of release from the Canadian Armed Forces. To date, 1,787 veterans have accessed the program. As part of Veterans Affairs Canada's initiative to cut red tape, the government has streamlined the service delivery model for the program by giving eligible veterans or survivors their choice of career transition services that best meet their needs. As well, VAC will reimburse up to $1,000.
VAC has also taken several steps to ensure that eligible veterans are able to apply for a position at Veterans Affairs Canada if they choose to. They have expanded the area of selection for job competitions to allow the largest number of Canadian Armed Forces personnel to apply; reviewed all the work descriptions in Veterans Affairs to assess which positions could benefit from Canadian Armed Forces experience; and added the relevant Canadian Armed Forces experience as an asset qualification to these positions.
We are working with the Public Service Commission and others to implement new legislation to support veterans seeking positions in the federal government. This initiative is called “Priority Hiring”.
The bill proposes to allow honourably released Canadian Armed Forces members and veterans to be given increased access to job opportunities in the public service.
The introduction of this legislation means that veterans whose medical release is deemed to be attributable to military service will be eligible for statutory priority hiring status in the federal public service.
Veterans who have been medically released from the Canadian Armed Forces will now be eligible for up to five years of priority hiring status in the federal public service. Veterans who have been honourably released and who have had at least three years of military service will now receive preference in external advertised federal public service employment processes. Canadian Armed Forces serving personnel and veterans who have been honourably released with at least three years of military service will now be able to view and participate in internal advertised public service employment processes.
As for the next steps, Veterans Affairs Canada is working with the Department of National Defence and the Public Service Commission to ensure that Canadian Armed Forces members and veterans will benefit from those changes when Bill C-27 comes into force. The changes will take effect once the bill has received royal assent—probably in 2015.
I will now go on to the hire a veteran program.
I will explain what this program is about.
Through the hire a veteran initiative launched in December 2012, Veterans Affairs Canada partners with corporate Canada to help veterans and releasing Canadian Armed Forces personnel find civilian jobs. The hire a veteran employer partners send their employment opportunities and/or links to career pages to us, and we share the posting with a network consisting of front-line staff, our national vocational rehabilitation service contractor, and the Canadian Armed Forces. These postings are then shared with job-seeking Canadian Armed Forces personnel and veterans.
The hire a veteran website includes information for both job seekers and employers. To assist releasing military personnel and veterans in finding employment, the website provides links to Employment and Social Development Canada tools, public service priority hiring information, and other relevant sites.
The hire a veteran website also provides information for employers regarding the value veterans bring to the civilian workforce and information on the Canadian Armed Forces, such as military ranks, occupation, training, and skills developed in the military. This information helps employers better understand the military culture from which our veterans are transitioning. Therefore, employers are better positioned to help these veterans integrate into the civilian workplace.
Through the hire a veteran initiative, over 160 employers have committed to hiring veterans. Here are some examples of our employer partners: Bell Canada, Target, Walmart Canada, Cenovus Energy, Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, Intuit Canada, Cabela's Canada, Mount Allison University, Queen's University, and the Canadian National Railway.
Our employer partners would be able to contribute a valuable perspective to your committee in its work. In particular, we would suggest that you consider inviting Bell Canada, Target, Intuit Canada, or the Canadian National Railway to appear before the committee.
To sum up, I mentioned our partners helping with this important file. To maximize civilian employment opportunities, Veteran Affairs works with the Canadian Armed Forces in partnership with two key non-profit organizations: the True Patriot Love Foundation and Canada Company.
The department's partnership with Canada Company is primarily through the military employment transition program, which is creating direct links between Canadian Armed Forces personnel, reservists, and veterans who are seeking jobs in the civilian workforce, and employer partners who want to hire transitioning military personnel and veterans for their valued skill sets.
Through the military employment transition program, employer partners are required to report on veteran hires through an employer partner memorandum of understanding. Approximately 180 veteran-friendly employer partners have committed to working together to help veterans and releasing Canadian Armed Forces personnel find civilian jobs.
Our other key non-profit partner is the True Patriot Love Foundation, which leads the Veteran Transition Advisory Council. Established by the Minister of Veteran Affairs, the council is mandated to identify challenges and barriers faced by Canadian veterans during the transition from military to civilian employment. The council includes representatives from leading national companies, who work to raise awareness of the skill sets that veterans have to offer the private sector.
In the fall of 2013, the Council made interim recommendations regarding the transition to civilian employment, and, as a result, the council established five working groups related to these recommendations. The working groups are focusing on a one-stop-shop web portal, a marketing campaign, supported employment, a veterans membership program, and certification.
This concludes our presentation. We would be pleased to take any questions.
View Frank Valeriote Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Frank Valeriote Profile
2014-10-27 15:59
Yes, thank you.
I'm not going to lie to you: there are two questions in this.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Mr. Frank Valeriote: You'll catch on.
I spent very little time—five days—in the program that allowed me to join the forces out in Edmonton, and then five days in the program that allowed me to join the navy on HMCS St. John's, and I'm telling you, it was unbelievable. I couldn't believe the professionalism; I also could not believe the skills. I was overwhelmed with the skills, especially when I was in the armaments room on the ship and saw all the computers. It was just beyond me.
I look at the opportunities that our servicemen and -women are given when they leave, and I know you're only working with what you're given to work with. I understand that. But there are skills translation services out there that I know are used in the United States. I've seen them on computers in my office that have been brought to me, and they translate the skills of our servicemen and -women. When I was being shown that, I was thinking about what I saw on the ship and out in Edmonton, and my mind was shifting to materials management, leadership, human resources, logistics, computer software development, and transportation systems that school boards have to develop so their kids are moved around properly. These are skills that many people learn in our forces.
So I have to ask you about this. We're supportive of this legislation, but why would we restrict ourselves? You guys are in the position where you do this stuff. You eat, drink, and breathe this stuff every day. We don't. You do. Why would you not be looking at more effective skills translators that could be used to facilitate the proper translation and connection of those people? You mentioned it at the end in regard to the council that's looking at these four different areas, but I was listening for better skills translation as a fifth focus, and I never heard it. Why wouldn't you be looking at that so we could better help our servicewomen and -men into the skills of the present and the future?
My second question is, you didn't answer why the limitation period—
Voices: Oh, oh!
Mr. Frank Valeriote: No, he had two questions couched in his.
Why is it five years? Why a limitation at all? Why not no limitation?
Sandra Lambe
View Sandra Lambe Profile
Sandra Lambe
2014-10-27 16:02
In fact, skills translation, and a variety of tools like that are among the things that the Veterans Transition Advisory Council is looking at. As Charlotte mentioned, we also partner with Canada Company, which has the military employment transition program. If you look at their site, they do have a number of tools available to veterans and employers that try to make that connection between what you did in the military and how that translates into a civilian workplace.
We are using a number of tools along those lines, and there are, of course, always new tools and initiatives that come across our desks. We do explore any new things that come along to see if there are opportunities to partner.
Anne-Marie Robinson
View Anne-Marie Robinson Profile
Anne-Marie Robinson
2014-10-27 16:48
Certainly, we will think about how that could be applicable in work that we do in supporting veterans and matching them to positions available in the public service, but I'd also like to comment on what you observed earlier.
Veterans do have a vast, diverse set of skills and linguistic qualifications. When we looked at the data coming into this committee, we saw that they were appointed to a wide range of occupations across the country: finance, engineering, clerical, trades.
They do have the skills that we need and we do anticipate the ability, particularly with the changes in this bill, to place an increasing number of veterans.
Deborah Pond
View Deborah Pond Profile
Deborah Pond
2014-07-10 10:16
Good morning. I would like to thank the standing committee members for this opportunity to speak about the tabled legislation, Bill C-36. This bill will impact the lives of prostituted individuals, their children, and generations to come.
I'm speaking today on behalf of the board of directors of u-r home, and as a retired police officer with the RCMP. u-r home is a faith-based, grassroots organization registered in Ontario as a not-for-profit.
u-r home was established in response to a community need for safe and secure housing for individuals choosing to exit their exploited situation. This need was identified by police officers, community agencies, front-line case workers, survivors of sexual exploitation, and prostituted individuals as a critical component in supporting their desire to exit their exploited situation.
u-r home's objective is to establish safe and secure housing and support services for victims of human trafficking, including forced sexual exploitation, forced labour, and forced marriage. We will build mentoring and supportive relationships with trafficked and prostituted women in their restorative journey as they seek to understand their inherent worth and dignity as valued persons in our society. We believe in the inherent right of every person in Canada to live with dignity, equality, respect, and freedom from oppression. We do not subscribe to the belief that prostitution is an acceptable solution for the women, children, and men who are forced into prostitution due to racism, poverty, lack of opportunities, child abuse, or inequality.
We view prostitution as a form of sexual exploitation and work towards its abolishment. In a majority of occurrences, prostitution and human trafficking intersect, resulting in forced sexual exploitation. Project Safekeeping, an RCMP report, states the majority of pimps employ control tactics that would categorize them as human traffickers according to the Criminal Code.
Prostitution is not a victimless crime. It consumes the most vulnerable and marginalized persons in our society. We recognize that women, especially first nations women and youth, are overrepresented in prostitution. We believe that those who are prostituted are treated by the buyers and pimps as commodities with little value, and that the cycle of violence is inherent in prostitution.
u-r home applauds the government for its thoughtful work in the development of Bill C-36 in support of prostituted individuals. The government is taking a proactive approach in not criminalizing the prostituted, who are victims of violence at the hands of the buyers and pimps. Yet it stops short of total decriminalization of prostituted individuals. I know of no other offence in our Criminal Code that criminalizes the victim. I would encourage each of you as committee members, as you study Bill C-36, to amend and remove the provision that criminalizes those prostituted victims.
Regarding the purchasing of sexual services, this new offence would prohibit the purchase or attempted purchase of sexual services. In an article by UN Women on ending violence against women and girls, it encouraged drafters of sex trafficking laws to include criminal penalties for buyers to address the demand for the sale of women and girls for sex, and that penalties should be sufficiently severe to deter repeat offences. We believe that the same can be said in the drafting of our new prostitution laws.
Prostitution is built on the economic laws of supply and demand. If there is no demand from men for sexual services, prostitution would not flourish. In the study of Canadian adult sex buyers, it describes that buyers actively attempt to hide their sex buying from others, and experience some degree of anxiety or worry at the thought of being outed as sex buyers. The report further indicated that the buyers of sex had worried about being arrested for communicating in a public place for the purchase of sex.
Police and front-line agencies are seeing a trend of younger girls being forced into prostitution. Why? The buyers are demanding young girls. They want sex with a young virgin, so the pimps are supplying the demand by recruiting vulnerable young girls, often from group homes. We support the strong message that in Canada it will not be acceptable to purchase the body of another human being for one's own personal sexual gratification. If this legislation is passed, the buyers' conduct and the purchasing of sexual services would be illegal for the first time in Canada.
Profit, greed, and power are the driving forces for pimps, traffickers, organized crime groups, gangs, and businesses engaged in such criminal activities as forcing women, youth, and men into prostitution. Research shows that daily profits from one prostituted woman can be over $1,000 a day, earning as much as $280,000 a year, tax-free. A drug trafficker sells one kilogram of cocaine once, but a pimp sells a prostituted woman for an average of seven years, earning potentially millions of dollars in profit.
Addressing the purchase of sexual services is only one avenue to deter the exploitation of individuals. Seizing, restraining, and forfeiting the proceeds of crime—of everyone benefiting—is another effective tool that police officers can apply that will reduce sexual exploitation of vulnerable individuals. Forfeiting the assets and illicit wealth will take the profit from those who benefit.
We believe the advertising of sexual services both online and in print media that depicts women in sexual and degrading poses reinforces the sexual objectification of women. It has been said that women who grow up in a culture with widespread sexual objectification tend to view themselves as objects of desire for others. This internalized sexual objectification has been linked to problems with mental health, clinical depression, habitual body monitoring, eating disorders, body shame, self worth, life satisfaction, cognitive and motor functioning, and sexual dysfunction. Hatton, in a 2011 study, found that “Sexualized portrayals of women have been found to legitimize or exacerbate violence against women and girls, as well as sexual harassment and anti-women attitudes among men and boys”.
With regard to offences in relation to offering, providing, or obtaining sexual services for consideration, the government has outlined a legal framework in this legislation that encompasses its view of those who are prostituted as victims, vulnerable, and in need of support and care. We believe it is inconsistent of the government to establish new legislation whereby prostituted individuals are regarded as victims in certain situations but not in other instances.
We do not support the offences as described in the proposed changes to section 213. These offences will criminalize the most vulnerable marginalized individuals in our society—those who engage in street prostitution, the majority of whom are women. These women, who are poor, often homeless, addicted, and suffer from serious health issues and post-traumatic stress disorder, need care and support, not revictimization. We do not believe the risk of violence that is inherent in prostitution would be diminished, but this offence would force those involved in street prostitution to make choices that could risk their personal safety.
Research and disclosure by prostituted women support the findings that they experience violence in many forms from both buyers of sexual services and individuals who exploit them for profit, and not from the law. Police in Christchurch, New Zealand, have stated, “At least monthly we are dealing with a working girl being victimised in some way, if not more.” The law needs to focus the responsibility of the inherent violence in prostitution and victimization of vulnerable individuals where it belongs, the buyers of sexual services and pimps.
The continuation of the criminalization of vulnerable individuals will only create additional barriers to exiting prostitution—namely, criminal convictions. This type of barrier has already created loss of opportunities for jobs and completion of college programs where, for many young women, the co-op programs require a clear vulnerable screening check by police. We believe those who are prostituted are not choosing prostitution. There is no criminal intent.
I understand that the $20 million is not part of Bill C-36, but I would like to address some comments in relation to this proposed funding.
We recognize the importance of a public awareness campaign and training for police on the application of the new laws, but these initiatives should receive separate funding. The training for police is critical to ensure the consistent application of the new laws across the country, unlike the current situation. Currently, some police services view prostituted individuals as victims and in need of rescuing from their pimps and buyers, and work in this manner. Other police services criminalize those who are prostituted, thus creating inequality in the application of the law.
We support the $20 million in new funding. As many others have suggested, however, we strongly urge the government to dedicate sustainable long-term funding to the development of robust exit strategies and programs.
Survivors of prostitution have stated and shown that it is a difficult process for individuals to leave prostitution. Many of the social barriers that have been factors for entering prostitution such as poverty, housing, health, lack of opportunities, abuse, addictions, and survival can also be barriers for exiting. We know that legal prostitution for many is not a one-time event but individuals may exit and re-enter a number of times before they are successful in overcoming the barriers that keep them entrenched in prostitution.
It is essential that survivors of prostitution and prostituted individuals be included in the development of these exit strategies and programs. Many survivors have commented on the importance of developing relationships with a few trusted workers. Therefore, it is imperative that there is a continuity of resourcing and funding for staff retention in organizations that provide support and services to sexually exploited individuals.
Whether or not you amend Bill C-36 as suggested, as an organization we would support the bill as tabled. We would continue to advocate for the total decriminalization of all prostituted persons.
I would like to conclude with the words of my friend Beatrice Wallace Littlechief, who speaks of being prostituted as a child and exiting prostitution many years later as a forever changed woman:
At 14 years old, I was forced to sell my body to a middle aged white man who said as I wept, that he would take it easy and then proceeded to have sex with me. I was also in fear of my life if I didn't follow through. I was alone and scared and only wished that there was someone there to help me. He thought this was ok to do this to me, but somehow mainstream society thought I was the one in the wrong.As the streets hardened me and death evaded me, I think back to those early days and compare them to today with Bill C-36 coming to reality, and I am filled with joy and hope that this is going to save so many girls, especially First Nation girls like myself, from ever having to experience sexual slavery. We are vulnerable and left to fend for ourselves with pimps and evil just lurking and ready to grab us and eat us alive. There will be protection and exit strategies in place to help save these girls and woman who are trapped.For those that think prostitution is a chosen profession you are only fooling yourself, because what if your 14 year old came to you and said, I got a job as a prostitute, you would definitely not be jumping up for joy.I personally want to thank the government for finally stepping up and seeing myself and others in this plight as humans, as equals that deserve protection. I have been out for a long time but the scars are still there and always will be, but now there is finally hope.
Thank you.
View Françoise Boivin Profile
NDP (QC)
View Françoise Boivin Profile
2014-07-10 10:33
That's consistent. I simply wanted to make sure that the logic applies across the board.
Ms. Pond, I appreciated your mentioning the fact that there will be a big need for police training. Because we heard a lot of stories, and heartbreaking stories at committee of situations where people, young people, were taken by gang-related organizations, criminal organizations, and brought into prostitution, which resembles human trafficking a lot, which is already in the Criminal Code.
What really came to my mind was the fact that they felt pretty much hopeless. Even the police felt almost hopeless on that aspect.
A lot of witnesses made a correlation with domestic violence, and when you talked about training it reminded me of how, at the time, domestic violence was happening, and so on and so forth, and nothing was happening criminally. Now we see more and we address that issue. But we address the issue not by creating a new infraction, because the infraction was already there. It was just to give the tools and also the training, the education, to say that domestic violence was not okay.
When police went to the door and said, “Oh, it's domestic. It's between the spouses,” and then turned around...we stopped that behaviour. Courts changed their behaviour, the way they addressed the witnesses in those cases. There was a section in the Criminal Code that was added, but more to the aggravating factor. If the infraction of aggression, of hitting somebody, was done against a spouse, it became an aggravating aspect.
So I'm very happy you talked about the importance of training and also giving them the tools to go after the root of what I'm hearing a lot here, which is human trafficking and exploitation.
It brings me to my question on the Bedford decision, because at the same time, Justice McLachlin said that it is a very dangerous business, and I'd be very surprised if anyone would argue it is not. It is a very dangerous business. Even if there is some type of consent from the person, it is a dangerous business. That's the issue the court was addressing foremost.
Ms. Big Canoe, you were really talking about the importance of having legislation that would still answer the court in Bedford.
I wonder, because I'm thinking a lot about the issue, could we have maybe defined a bit more what exploitation was all about, and that would have been deemed correct in the sense of the Bedford decision, and maybe also criminalized the buying of sexual services from a trafficked person? Do you think it would have—
View David Wilks Profile
CPC (BC)
You brought up something that is quite concerning for any police officer and that is that you may have to walk away, and I believe that is not what any police officer would want to do.
Having said that, from the perspective of police training, as you know, police training has evolved throughout the years, whether it be the RCMP or others. They've got into a lot of role-playing within the RCMP at Depot to be able to give first-hand ability to recruits. Do you think there is a potential for some form of that type of training that would assist police officers coming out of Depot to better understand the magnitude of this type of crime?
Deborah Pond
View Deborah Pond Profile
Deborah Pond
2014-07-10 11:05
I certainly think role-playing and any kind of training that police do, whether it's RCMP or other police departments, it would be essential for police to be able to determine how they need to act in certain situations. It gives them a sense of being able to walk into a situation with more confidence. As you approach situations you know as an officer that you think about what you're going to say and what you can face. As they do these role plays and as the police do internal training, I think it's essential for the police to do this, and they are doing that now. I often hear police talk about the kind of training that they're having for human trafficking and prostitution and other events. As they develop, yes, I believe they need to do this.
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