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Results: 1 - 15 of 4618
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2019-06-19 15:29 [p.29396]
Pursuant to order made on Tuesday, May 28, 2019, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-331.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2019-06-19 15:39 [p.29397]
Pursuant to order made on Tuesday, May 28, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Motion No. 173 under Private Members' Business.
View Lisa Raitt Profile
CPC (ON)
View Lisa Raitt Profile
2019-06-19 17:32 [p.29418]
moved:
That, in the opinion of the House: (a) rights of victims deserve proper consideration in our criminal justice system; (b) the parole system must avoid unnecessary revictimization; and (c) the government should amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act prior to the next election, so as to provide victims with an explanation of how dates are determined for offenders’ eligibility for temporary absences, releases and parole.
She said: Mr. Speaker, in the interest of how important it is to advance the rights of victims in a timely manner, I will be very brief in my intervention today, given the fact that we are in the last hours of this House sitting in this session.
Earlier today, I introduced a bill that would make it a requirement that victims be provided with an explanation of how dates are determined for their offender's eligibility for temporary absences, for release or for parole. This is a simple change that would ensure victims are given information up front, rather than finding out through some other channel that their offender was returned to society.
Mr. Speaker, I should be clear that I introduced a bill, and that today we are debating a motion.
This simple change could save a lot of heartache and unnecessary revictimization for the victims of crime. As such, I would suggest that if the government wants to demonstrate that it cares about victims, it can adopt the bill as its own. The official opposition is prepared to support it, at all stages, before this House rises, to ensure that victims are provided with the information that they need.
I have waited 11 years to be able to stand here and introduce my very first private member's bill and my first motion on the floor of the House of Commons. This is an issue of victims rights that is very near and dear to my heart. I am grateful for the opportunity and for the support of my colleague, the member of Parliament for Oshawa, in bringing this moment to today's floor.
View Colin Carrie Profile
CPC (ON)
View Colin Carrie Profile
2019-06-19 17:34 [p.29419]
Mr. Speaker, Lisa Freeman is a constituent of mine who has worked years to advance this motion about the parole system.
To provide a bit of background, Lisa's father was brutally murdered. At the age of 21, she had to identify her father's body. His murderer was sentenced to 25 years without parole. Lisa, like many victims, found out that he was going to be let go early. This happened out of the blue. There was no transparency.
Passing this motion is a very simply thing the government could do to give more transparency to the system. It would treat victims with dignity and give them timely and accurate information.
I cannot overemphasize that the system is rigged toward the rights of criminals versus the rights of victims. To give an example of how bad this is, Lisa's father's murderer was transferred to a correctional facility within 10 miles of where Lisa's sister lived. She only found out about it 24 hours after he was transferred.
The motion proposes a very simple change and it would give more transparency. The government has run on transparency. Does the member see any reason that an initiative like this could not get unanimous consent of the House?
View Lisa Raitt Profile
CPC (ON)
View Lisa Raitt Profile
2019-06-19 17:36 [p.29419]
Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate all the work the hon. member for Oshawa has done on this file and for bringing Lisa Freeman's story to our attention and to my attention in the House.
Fundamentally, he government and the rest of the House could pass pass this motion very quickly, as we stand here today. It is a very simple amendment. It would add one single line, asking for an explanation as to why parole would be given parole in a certain way.
Transparency for victims in these matters is incredibly important. It helps them to understand how the system works.
In the case of Lisa Freeman, they were part of the system for at least 20 years. They should have the ability to understand, at the very end of their journey through the system, exactly what happened. It is an ask for the government from this family, and many other families in Canada, that makes sense and can easily be done.
I would ask that the government consider this so we can give some comfort to families like Lisa Freeman's and other families experiencing the same confusion and lack of transparency with respect to dealing with the corrections system as it currently stands.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-06-19 17:38 [p.29419]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the issue of victims. Over the last number of years, we have tried to come up with thoughts and ideas on how to prevent people becoming victims in the future.
I realize this may not necessarily be on topic, but could my friend provide some thoughts on tangible actions that could be taken to prevent people from becoming victims in the first place, actions to which individuals could relate?
View Lisa Raitt Profile
CPC (ON)
View Lisa Raitt Profile
2019-06-19 17:38 [p.29419]
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question relates to a broader and larger discussion that we will probably have in the next Parliament, should we be so lucky to be returned to this place by our constituents.
That being said, one concrete thing we can do to prevent re-victimization is to have the government adopt the motion and ensure it passes here and makes it to the other place. People become victims in the moment and the instant that horrendous crimes happen to them. However, they are re-victimized and they continue to be victims for the rest of their lives, as the process unfolds through incarceration, corrections and then further into parole.
This one tiny aspect of at least understanding the reason parole is being granted at early stages would be extremely helpful for the Freeman family in particular, and I am convinced for the rest of Canadians as well. I hope the government continues to consider it.
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
2019-06-19 17:39 [p.29419]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate, and I would like to thank the hon. member for Milton for moving this motion.
The motion comes just short weeks after Victims and Survivors of Crime Week. Members may know the objectives of that week.
The first objective is to raise awareness across Canada about the issues facing victims and survivors. They and their families must be treated with courtesy, compassion and respect at all stages of the criminal justice process. Victims, survivors and their families also have an important role in helping to ensure that justice is done, that during the parole process, for example, reliable and relevant facts about parole can be made.
The second goal of this special week is to let victims and their families know about the services, programs and laws in place to help and support them.
The motion before us states that:
the government should amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act prior to the next election, so as to provide victims with an explanation of how dates are determined for offenders’ eligibility for temporary absences, releases and parole.
I will point out that information about offender eligibility dates is provided to victims already, but it is always worth examining whether there is room for improvement.
That said, the government already provides victims with useful and timely information in a number of ways.
In fact, last week, the government announced an important new step, a new victim outreach strategy to ensure that more victims would be aware of the information available to them and the role they could play in the corrections and conditional release process.
There was a great deal of collaboration in creating this strategy. Correctional Services Canada worked with federal partners, including the Parole Board of Canada, Public Safety Canada's National Office for Victims and the Department of Justice Canada, in consultation with victims and survivors. The result is a suite of communication tools to inform the public and victims of the resources and services available to them. The tools include infographics, videos and a social media campaign.
Another way that victims can receive information is through the victims portal. The portal is a secure online service, available to registered victims to receive information about the offender who harmed them. They can submit information electronically, including their victims' statements. These communication tools help victims stay informed, engaged and empowered to make informed decisions.
The Public Safety Canada portfolio is also working to ensure that victims of federal offenders have a voice in the federal criminal justice system.
For example, there are now 8,000 victims registered with Correctional Services Canada and the Parole Board of Canada. They are entitled to receive over 50 types of notifications. Last year, they received 160,000 pieces of information.
Along with more avenues to obtain information and give their input, victims have access to resources such as dedicated victim service officers, who provide victims with information about correctional services and the offender who harmed them.
Victim service officers explain to victims how correctional planning works and how decisions are made. They provide victims with information on the offender's progress toward meeting their correctional plan. They advise when parole hearings are scheduled.
It is fair to say that the rest of the motion aims to ensure that victims are treated even more fairly and respectfully by our criminal justice system. For decades, Canada's criminal justice system has been getting better at attending to the needs of victims and survivors, whether it is a matter of providing information, delivering support, or simply showing empathy and respect.
When Correctional Service of Canada prepares an offender's case for a parole hearing, for example, it takes into account the concerns that victims have raised in their victims' statements. Last year, victims presented over 300 statements at parole hearings. We are also taking steps to make the parole hearing process less traumatic for victims and survivors.
Members may recall that as part of the implementation plan for the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, the National Office for Victims hosted consultations on the victims right to information, participation and protection in the corrections and conditional release system.
One of the early issues discussed at the round tables was the parole hearing process as legislated in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.
Under its terms, victims unable to attend the parole hearing can have access to an audio recording of the hearing. At round tables held by the National Office for Victims, we heard that attending a parole hearing could be traumatic, such that afterwards many victims did not have a clear sense of what exactly was discussed.
Why not make the audio recordings available to those who have attended the parole hearing as well as those who could not attend? Why not enable them to listen again at a time and a place of their choosing?
That is one of the proposed amendments we have included in Bill C-83, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, to strengthen victims roles in the criminal justice system.
This is just one way we can increase the number of avenues through which victims can obtain information and participate in the processes of the criminal justice system. There is always more that can be done, but we continue to take steps in the right direction.
One of the most important things we can do is prevent people from becoming victims in the first place.
The national crime prevention strategy provides leadership on ways to prevent and reduce crime among at-risk populations and vulnerable communities. The strategy's goal is to mitigate the underlying factors that might put individuals at risk of offending in the first place.
The Government of Canada is making up to $94 million available over five years to develop inclusive, diverse and culturally adapted crime prevention projects right across Canada.
The national crime prevention strategy is another example of this government's efforts to reduce crime and by the same token, reduce the number of victims.
The government will continue to work with all our partners to support victims in every way possible.
Once again, I would like to thank the hon. member for introducing this motion and I look forward to continued debate on this very important topic.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2019-06-19 17:48 [p.29421]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the sponsor of the motion, the member for Milton. Since I have been working on the public safety file, I have seen the consequences these cases can have on people's lives. If I may, I have more I would like to say on the subject.
I should point out that I support the member's motion. During the previous Parliament, we supported the legislation that was introduced. We had many disagreements with the previous government on matters of law and order and on how to achieve our public safety objectives. We did not agree on how to protect our communities or how to promote rehabilitation. That is also important to achieving our public safety objectives.
In that context, we supported the Victims Bill of Rights. It is also important to understand the impact these crimes have on the victims. In some cases, repercussions can last an entire lifetime, depending on the seriousness of the crime. There are gaps with respect to the enforcement of the act and the resources available to the Parole Board of Canada.
One example comes to mind, and that is the legal obligation to inform victims when there has been a change in the status of an offender who could cause them harm, particularly in the case of the most horrific and violent crimes. In recent years, some high-profile cases have brought to light how badly the law is being enforced. Some victims were not informed or were not informed in a timely manner, which does not respect the spirit of the law that was passed.
The government surely does not intend to change the law, but it must ensure that these organizations have the resources they need to keep victims informed in accordance with existing legal obligations. That is one of the reasons why I support the motion.
It is not easy. In this digital age, there is a 24-hour news cycle and the news is available on television and on our phones. We know that, unfortunately, horrific crimes are being committed in every part of our society.
We need to look at this in several stages. I am sorry that I missed part of the parliamentary secretary's speech. At the end, I heard her talk about crime prevention. That too is important. From what I see and hear, victims often do not want other individuals or families to go through the same grief or trauma as they did.
Another way to show respect for victims is to prevent similar crimes from being committed against other individuals or other groups in our society. Unfortunately, as hon. members know, we have a lot of work to do in that regard. We know there are aggravating factors that can lead to a crime being committed. We need to address the housing crisis, deal with mental health issues and reduce poverty. Sometimes, through no fault of their own, people are in situations where their own illness or their difficult circumstances take them down a very dark path that has significant repercussions on the lives of other innocent Canadians. It is a scourge on our society. I think we can all agree that we need to address all this.
Something else that needs to be considered is the objectives of rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is key to achieving public safety objectives. I have said that several times since the beginning of my speech, but it is important. Unfortunately, that is rarely a popular aspect to address.
There are significant, palpable tensions within our criminal justice system. They reflect the need to understand that these crimes involve victims, who need respect and adequate resources so they can get on with their lives and feel like justice has been done.
At the same time, we also have rehabilitation objectives that, sadly, do not always align with the popular will. Since becoming the NDP critic, I have seen several cases. Listening to the parents of victims, I can only imagine the grief and rage they must be feeling. Those feelings are completely normal. No one here would blame them.
That being said, we need to gear the system towards rehabilitation, not to diminish the impact of crimes on victims or the importance of victims, but to ensure that our society is safe. The issue of record suspensions is a good example, even though the offence in that case is not a particularly heinous crime. In the case we are talking about now, these are people who will be in jail for the rest of their lives and who will never get to seek that kind of relief. However, I still want to cite some statistics, because they are relevant, even though the crimes in this case are very different from the crimes that are eligible for a record suspension.
First, 95% of people who were granted a record suspension did not reoffended. Second, three-quarters of Canadians believe that record suspensions, which allow individuals to reintegrate into society, are a positive thing. As I said, these statistics are about a program that does not necessarily apply to the crimes addressed by my colleague's motion, but I did want to mention them, because we need to acknowledge the importance of rehabilitation.
No matter how serious a crime may be, if the system allows an individual to reintegrate into society, we, as legislators, want this to be done with zero, or almost zero, chance of reoffending. This is also important for other inmates. Prison is often referred to as a crime school, and we obviously want to avoid that.
Since my time is running out, I will get back to the main point and reiterate that we support the motion. We do, however, have many concerns.
First, as I mentioned, we need adequate resources and ministerial direction to ensure that the current law is applied so that victims remain informed.
Second, there are some gaps with respect to the type of information provided, and we believe that the law should be updated in that regard. As the motion states, the government must address this issue to reconcile privacy and victims' needs. For example, the motion speaks about individuals' absences when on conditional release, but they are usually granted for medical reasons. It would be appropriate to inform victims when such absences are granted and to explain the process to them so they are better informed. A victim who is better informed is better able to achieve the desired goals, which is to get their life back on track and to grieve. We want to avoid revictimizing them.
We must consider all these factors, determine whether the law passed in the previous legislature was properly enforced, then think about how we can update it. That would be quite appropriate.
Earlier this week, in another debate on another bill, my colleague from Elmwood—Transcona spoke about an important element that I feel is very pertinent to the motion we are debating. He stated that the laws passed by Parliament often include a review period. Laws are reviewed after three or five years. However, this is often not done, or we seem to think that it is not important. It is our duty, as parliamentarians, especially in the case of a law on victims' rights.
I thank the member for Milton. I support her motion and I urge the government to take this opportunity to ensure that we do all we can so that there is also room for victims in this process.
View Colin Carrie Profile
CPC (ON)
View Colin Carrie Profile
2019-06-19 17:58 [p.29422]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to start this evening by thanking Lisa Freeman of Oshawa for the creation of this bill. I have known Lisa now for many years, and her public advocacy, which has led to this bill being introduced today, cannot be overstated.
Before I delve into Lisa's story and her contributions to this bill, I want to make it clear that I will not be mentioning the name of the man who took the life of her father in 1991. It is our job not to give notoriety to people willing to take the innocent life of another.
Lisa's father, Roland Slingerland, was brutally attacked and murdered in 1991. Lisa was but a mere 21-year-old at the time, and she was tasked with identifying her father after the attack. As a result, the murderer was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for 25 years, the standard practice for violent crimes such as this one.
However, 20 years into that sentence, the man responsible for tearing Lisa's life apart became eligible for early parole, for reasons that were never made clear to Lisa or her family. She was not told what her father's murderer had done to earn the possibility of early parole. She was not told why the Parole Board was considering releasing the murderer who had taken away the life of an innocent man, her innocent man. She was not told why her government would provide leniency to a criminal more than deserving of his punishment.
The fact is that Lisa Freeman was never even given a single piece of justification for why her country's justice system was willing to turn its back on the people it is designed to protect.
In the Criminal Code's current state, there is no legislation that requires the Parole Board to provide any reasoning to victims and victims' families for why the criminal who committed a crime against them is eligible for early parole. Many pieces of legislation protect the rights of victims. As this House knows, there is quite literally a Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, for the sole purpose of ensuring that the protection of victims' rights remains a top priority for the justice system.
However, the laws that we currently have on the books simply do not provide the right of victims to know: the right to know why those who have harmed them are eligible to be released. When a court of law convicts an individual, the justice system is not just punishing or rehabilitating a person; it is providing justice on behalf of the victim, too.
However, when a convicted felon not meant to be even eligible for parole for another five years is provided with the opportunity to walk freely in public, it is not fair to the victim's family to be kept in the dark as to why or how.
Another example of victims in Canada not having the right to be informed is the fact that Mr. Slingerland's killer was transferred to a prison in British Columbia that was only 10 kilometres from the home of Lisa's sister. Lisa was not made aware of this transfer until 24 hours after it occurred.
This is just another example of Lisa being in the same situation that many others find themselves in every day: uninformed. Since then, the killer has been transferred to a minimum-security prison on Vancouver Island. This facility has even been nicknamed “Club Fed” because of its lax restrictions on inmates.
This sheer institutional injustice influenced Lisa to become an outspoken advocate for victims' rights, specifically regarding the rights of victims to know why those who have inflicted pain upon them and the public as a whole are eligible to be released. She has not only been an outspoken advocate in my community on victims' rights, but has even gone so far as penning her own book to speak about her experiences throughout the entire Parole Board process, titled She Won't Be Silenced.
It is people like Lisa Freeman who make Canada the greatest country in the world. In the face of utter shock at the early parole announcement, she took a stand to ensure that other people just like her would never have to face the same treatment, the same neglect and the darkness that she was forced to endure as a result of the Parole Board's sudden and mysterious announcement.
I would like to take the time to read aloud a statement made by Lisa regarding this private member's bill: “Families such as mine are plunged unasked into unfathomable situations, and then further demoralized and re-traumatized by the actions of a government: i.e, the Parole Board of Canada, Correctional Services Canada, institutions that say they are supportive of victims of crime, which is, at best, an illusion.
“After dealing with Corrections since 2011, when I questioned why my father's killer was granted multiple day passes a full four years before his parole eligibility date, I quickly tired of the scripted lip service and virtue signalling of the Correctional Service of Canada, which purportedly assists victims but in reality does the opposite.
“Under the guise of rehabilitation, victims of crime often have to stand back and watch while violent offenders exercise their rights, which, as most victims of crime find, is nothing more than a mockery of justice and basic common sense. It was a quick realization on my part that any access to rights by the offender was in fact taking away from my rights, which has been proven time and time again.
“It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that victims of crime are treated with dignity and respect and to provide timely and accurate information in a transparent manner. With this legislation, it will avoid providing a sense of false comfort. Families like mine and indeed families coast to coast who find themselves trying to navigate the system at what is already a very trying time deserve more—and for the very least they deserve accurate information.”
It is because of Lisa Freeman that I stand here in the House today to speak to this private member's bill that is proposing amendments to the Criminal Code that would ensure that all victims and their families are aware of how parole dates and eligibility are determined, because the current laws on the books fall short in doing so.
While getting tough on crime, in my opinion, is key to creating a safer Canada, victims of crime—especially of violent ones, such as the murder of Lisa's father—must not be forgotten. In every criminal case, the two opposing sides are the Crown and the defence. However, it is right and just that the victims not be forgotten. They are the ones who truly suffer at the hands of criminals. In cases such as Lisa's, victims suffer not only at the hands of criminals but also at the hands of the government when they are kept in the dark.
The Parole Board grants 79% of day parole requests it comes across. For victims of crimes committed by people eligible for early parole, it is only logical and compassionate that they be made aware as to how those who have harmed them have a very high probability of being released into the public before the end of their sentence.
This is truly a non-partisan issue. Providing a reasonable explanation is not only logical but feasible as well. At this time, when the Parole Board determines a convicted criminal's date for parole eligibility, it sends a document to the victim who was harmed by the criminal's crime. All that is required under this bill is that the Parole Board clarify why the specified date for parole eligibility was chosen. The potential financial and procedural considerations are very limited, verging on non-existent.
This legislation would require that information regarding review and eligibility for all forms of parole be communicated in writing to the offender's victims. As such, victims and families would not have to feel uninformed about those who have harmed them. An explanation of how the dates for parole eligibility are determined would also be required in the written documentation. It is a simple matter of transparency. Victims deserve accurate and timely information regarding the parole process.
For every day we do not pass legislation on transparency for parole decisions, another victim and another family have to come to the realization that their government has neglected them.
This bill would avoid providing the sense of false comfort that comes to victims when they are misled about parole eligibility. Its purpose is to make Parole Board procedures more transparent and more accommodating to the rights of victims and their families.
This legislation has been applauded by advocates as giving a stronger voice to victims of crime. They will no longer be drowned out by the focus on the convicted. This legislation offers victims the ability to fully understand how and why the justice system is making decisions on their cases.
It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that victims of crime are treated with the utmost respect and dignity. To this point, the government has failed to protect the most vulnerable. It is about time this House takes a step forward to fix that situation.
In closing, above all, Canadians who have suffered as a result of an offender's action do not deserve to be re-victimized by the parole system. The current parole system is guilty of failing to be transparent. It is the duty of lawmakers in this House to repair the broken system. That is why I stand today. I call on my colleagues in this House to support this bill.
I would also like to thank my colleague, the member for Milton, for spearheading this initiative to provide transparency for the most vulnerable in our judicial system. It has been an honour to work with her, and this private member's bill is evidence of her hard work for her constituents and all Canadians.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chris Bittle Profile
2019-06-19 18:08 [p.29424]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to rise today and add my voice to the debate on Motion No. 229.
Before I do that, this may be my last opportunity to give a speech during this Parliament, so I want to thank my wife, Charlene, and my son and daughter, Ethan and Hannah. Hannah will be turning one next week, and Ethan will be turning three next month. They came after my election and do not know any different, but they make a great deal of sacrifices, like so many other kids of parents who work here on a daily basis. It is important to say thanks to remember them and those whom we leave back in our ridings to do this important work.
I also want to thank my constituents for this incredible honour of representing the people of St. Catharines here in this place almost four years.
Let me begin by first thanking the hon. member for Milton for bringing this motion forward. If there is one thing in this House that all of us can agree on, it is the importance of supporting victims and survivors of crime.
I would like to take a moment to recognize the dedication and tireless efforts of all those who work so hard to provide that support. We are all fortunate in this country to have a system in place that is there for people in their greatest time of need. That system spans different orders of government across different sectors. It offers programs and services that support victims of crime so that they can play an important role in the criminal justice system. It works to meet their needs and ensure that they do not suffer in silence. It encompasses professionals and volunteers who work with victims and survivors, helping them to get their lives back on track and making sure they are not re-victimized along the way.
I would like to take a moment to recognize the important work of Victim Services Niagara for the incredible work the people there in my home region do on a daily basis, and to recognize also the Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre. So many organizations across the country are working so hard and so passionately for victims of crime.
As part of that system, the federal government has an important role that includes support for victims of federal offenders, meaning those serving a sentence of two years or more. The Correctional Service of Canada, or CSC, strives to ensure that victims of federal offenders have an effective voice in the federal correctional and justice systems. Part of that involves providing them with information. Last year, in fact, victims received 160,000 pieces of information from CSC and the Parole Board of Canada.
That information is not automatically provided. Victims must register with CSC and the Parole Board in order to obtain that information about the offender who harmed them. However, the government has launched a victims portal to make that process easier. The portal provides a simple and secure way for victims to register and access information. It also allows them to submit information electronically for consideration in case management decisions. That includes victim statements, which can be submitted at any time during the offender's sentence.
In addition to the portal, victims are able to reach victim services officers by email or by phone. These officers can provide victims with information about CSC and the offender who harmed them. That includes information about correctional planning, decision-making processes and the progress the offender is making toward meeting the objectives of his or her correctional plan.
Victims are entitled to receive more than 50 types of notification. For example, victims can be notified of the start date and length of the sentence that the offender is serving. With respect to the motion before us, I would also point out that victims are already notified of the offender's eligibility and review dates for temporary absences or parole. That said, there could be room for improvement. Debates like this one certainly help us to shed some light on the issue of ways to support victims.
This debate is also taking place not long after the government took important steps forward in terms of how it communicates and engages with victims of federal offenders. On May 27, in conjunction with the 14th annual Victims and Survivors of Crime Week, the government announced a new victims outreach strategy.
The strategy has two main goals: The first is to improve public awareness about the information and notifications that the CSC provides to registered victims, and the second is to bring greater clarity to certain aspects of the corrections and conditional release system, including victims' understanding of sentence management and the offender reintegration process.
Specifically, the strategy will see the Correctional Service of Canada promoting the benefits of registration. CSC would also promote the information available to victims through the victims portal and the benefit of submitting a victim statement outlining the impact of the offence on them. CSC is working with federal partners in consultation with victims and survivors to develop new tools to let people know about the resources that are available. These tools include infographics videos and a social media campaign. That is just one recent step that the government has taken to support victims.
It has also proposed a new measure under Bill C-83, which is being considered by Parliament, to increase the participation of victims in the criminal justice system. If that bill passes and receives royal assent, victims who attend a Parole Board of Canada hearing will be allowed to listen to an audio recording of the parole hearing.
Right now, that opportunity is only available to victims who do not attend the parole hearing. It makes perfect sense to extend audio recordings to all registered victims because it would allow victims who did attend a hearing and found the experience difficult and traumatic to have a clear sense of how things transpired.
All of these measures are complemented by the government's National Office for Victims. The office provides a central national resource for information and support to victims of federal offenders. It can answer questions about the criminal justice, corrections and conditional release systems, giving victims a more effective voice. Last year, the office distributed more than 6,000 publications to victims of crime, victim service providers and the general public. The office also helped to point victims in the right direction by receiving calls, responding to email queries and referring Canadians for direct services.
Finally, I would like to note the support the government is providing to victims and survivors of the despicable crime of human trafficking.
Budget 2018 included federal funding of $14.5 million over five years and $2.9 million per year after that to establish a national human trafficking hotline. Being from Niagara, I find this initiative to be incredibly important, because ours is a border community where so much of that crime occurs. Because so much trafficking occurs through that border crossing, it is important for my community to have those types of resources to combat this horrible crime.
I am pleased to report that the hotline was launched on May 29. It offers help and hope to victims and survivors 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and it is confidential.
Victims and survivors will be able to use it both to seek information and to receive the help they need to find safety and protection. This includes connecting them to local law enforcement, emergency shelters, trauma counsellors, transportation and other services and supports. The hotline will also forward information to law enforcement agencies so they can take action against the perpetrators.
This is only a sampling of the federal measures that are in place or on track to support victims of crime. There is always more we can do to make things work even better for them.
I am proud to stand behind a government that takes this issue seriously, that has already taken steps to improve the support system for victims and is committed to working with partners on further improvements to better serve the needs of victims and survivors of crime.
Again, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those involved in victim services. It is an incredibly difficult job to help people through the trauma they experience. We talk a lot about first responders and the important work that they do, but victim support workers provide a significant component of that, the next step that is too often forgotten about. The work is important to help get people on the right track, to help them move forward, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them.
Again, I would like to thank the member for Milton for introducing the motion and spearheading this important debate.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-06-19 18:18 [p.29425]
Mr. Speaker, it is important to recognize that victims of crimes play a very important and crucial role in the whole process.
We had a very sad story not that long ago in Winnipeg North. When I say Winnipeg North, I am referring to the inner city, north end of Winnipeg. A very young man was at home with his grandmother. Someone broke into the home and the young man was stabbed and killed. This touched on a lot of emotions in the city of Winnipeg. It had a fairly profound impact with the amount of attention it gathered. People rallied around the family. The deceased young man was supposed to graduate this month from Technical Vocational High School.
A series of public meetings followed. The victim was of Filipino heritage. The community, particularly the Filipino community, really came out to support the mother and father, both of whom I have known for many years.
I have relayed this message to the House, because throughout the process, time after time, we meet with individuals who have followed the story. People really want answers to a series of different questions, everything from why it happened to what the circumstances were. They want to know about the perpetrator who caused the harm. It is really difficult for us to provide answers to everything they are looking for.
I think of the family members. It was difficult for me. I attended the meetings. I think of Imelda in particular, a dear family friend, and the emotions involved in that. It really heightens the importance. Sadly, a lot of crimes take place in our communities. It affects not only the victims of the crime, but family members and friends as well. They need to have some form of understanding of what has taken place and a sense of justice.
I sat on a justice committee for youth for many years. In fact, I was the chair of the Keewatin youth justice committee for a number of years. We talked a great deal about the importance of ensuring there was a consequence for young people breaking the law or for inappropriate behaviour.
One of the things I felt pretty good about was the committee looked at ways to put in place restorative justice. Restorative justice is where victims meet with offenders with the goal of a disposition to provide some sense of justice to the victim. Obviously, there is a huge difference when someone steals something, or a relatively minor offence, compared to an incident where the victim dies.
Through the years, going back to the to the days of the Keewatin justice committee, to the days in which I was the critic for justice in the province of Manitoba, I have always believed there needs to be a consequence for individuals who break our laws. However, at the same time, the victims need to be taken into consideration.
We reformed our military laws through legislation in the last couple of years. When I spoke on that, I highlighted that the fact that we were incorporating rights for victims within it. I cannot remember all the details offhand, but the principle of recognizing and appreciating the need to have victims as a part of the process is something the government, particularly the minister, have taken very seriously.
There are a couple of points I want to highlight. First, the government launched a communication and outreach strategy to provide victims with greater awareness of the services available and how they could access them, which is of great importance. We are in consultation with victims and the federal ombudsman for victims of crime, recognizing we can and should do better.
I will cite another piece of legislation we have passed. Imagine a victim of sexual assault decides to listen to the perpetrator's parole hearing for possible release. We can only imagine the state of mind of that victim having to listen to the parole hearing. Therefore, under the legislation we passed in the last year, victims can receive an audio recording of proceedings, which they can listen to on their own time.
Whether it is the enshrinement of victims rights in legislation, as we did with the military reform, or the example I just cited, the government has moved on these issues. I think we all recognize that there is always room for improvement. We can always do better. I think we all appreciate the importance of ensuring victims are recognized through this process.
I have had the opportunity to address an issue such as this. I mentioned this the earlier in a question for the member putting forward the motion. The best way to continue to move forward is to also look at ways to prevent people from being victims in the first place. As a government, we have been very successful, through a multitude of grants, budgetary measures and legislative measures, on things that will make a difference.
For example, Winnipeg North has some of the more challenging areas along Selkirk Avenue. There is a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week drop-in centre. As individuals become engaged and involved at that drop-in centre or they become involved with the Bear Clan, we have seen less crime.
I look forward to continuing the dialogue with respect to what the government can do to ensure victims are taken into consideration in all legislative and budgetary measures that the government presents to the House. It is important and it really does matter.
I always appreciate the opportunity to share a few thoughts on the important issues Canadians have to face.
View Vance Badawey Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Vance Badawey Profile
2019-06-19 18:29 [p.29426]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand in the House today to speak on this very important issue. I have my Métis jacket on today in celebration of indigenous month. Aboriginal day is this Friday.
As was very well articulated by the member for Winnipeg North, victims have an important role in the criminal justice system and we need listen to their concerns on a regular basis to ensure they have a further role in the criminal justice system.
This government is committed to ensuring that victims of a crime are supported, informed and respected, especially taking into consideration what they go through. Of course, it does not end there. It sometimes continues. Victims need well-informed support as well as a government that takes into consideration the respect they fully deserve. It is very important.
Correctional Service Canada as well as the Parole Board of Canada and the National Office for Victims work together to provide victims the information to which they are entitled. We have launched communication and outreach strategies to provide victims with greater awareness of the services available to them, how to access them and how important that is.
As a government, we often find ourselves with our constituents, informing them and ensuring they are well advised on the many services available to them under the federal government, a menu of services. This is no different.
We will continue engaging with victims and the federal ombudsman for victims of crime and continuing to strengthen victims services and supports they well deserve and expect.
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