Hansard
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
Results: 1 - 30 of 340
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-06-20 12:31 [p.29470]
Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and if you seek it, I think you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:
That, notwithstanding any Standing or Special Order or usual practice of the House:
(a) the amendment to the motion respecting the senate amendments to Bill C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Act, be deemed negatived on division and the main motion be deemed carried on division; and
(b) the amendment to the motion for second reading of Bill C-100, An Act to implement the Agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States, be deemed negatived on division and that the Bill be deemed read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on International Trade.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2019-06-20 12:32 [p.29470]
Does the hon. government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
2019-06-19 21:47 [p.29444]
Mr. Speaker, Bill C-83 has two main objectives.
First of all, it would allow federal inmates to be separated from the general prison population when necessary for security reasons. Second, it will ensure that inmates have access to the interventions, programs and mental health care they need to safely return to the general prison population and make progress toward successful rehabilitation and reintegration.
The bill would achieve these objectives by replacing the current system of administrative segregation with structured intervention units. In SIUs, inmates would be entitled to twice as much time out of their cells, four hours daily instead of two, and two hours of meaningful human contact every day.
We have allocated $448 million over six years to ensure that the Correctional Service has the resources to provide programs and interventions to inmates in SIUs and to implement this new system safely and effectively. That funding includes $150 million for mental health care, both in SIUs and throughout the federal correction system.
Bill C-83 was introduced last October. It was studied by the public safety committee in November and reported back to the House in December with a number of amendments. There were further amendments at report stage, in February, including one from the member for Oakville North—Burlington that added a system for binding external review.
In recent months, hon. senators have been studying the bill, and they have now sent it back to us with proposed amendments of their own. The high level of interest in Bill C-83 is indicative of the importance of the federal corrections system and of the laws and policies that govern it. Effective and humane corrections are essential to public safety, and they are a statement of who we are as a country. In the words of Dostoyevsky, “the degree of civilization in a society is revealed by entering its prisons.”
I extend my sincere thanks to all the intervenors who provided testimony and written briefs over the course of the last nine months and to parliamentarians in both chambers who examined this legislation and made thoughtful and constructive suggestions.
Since the Senate social affairs committee completed clause-by-clause consideration of the bill a couple of weeks ago, the government has been carefully studying the committee's recommendations, all of which seek to achieve laudable objectives. We are proposing to accept several of the Senate's amendments as is or with small technical modifications.
First, with respect to minor adjustments, we agree with amendments that would require a mental health assessment of all inmates within 30 days of admission into federal custody and within 24 hours of being transferred to an SIU. This fits with the focus on early diagnosis and treatment that will be facilitated by the major investments we are making in mental health care.
We agree with the proposal to rearrange section 29 of the act, which deals with inmate transfers, to emphasize the possibility of transfers to external hospitals. The Correctional Service runs five certified psychiatric hospitals of its own and will now have significant new resources for mental health care. Even so, there may be cases when a transfer to an external facility is appropriate. If the transfer can be done safely, if the hospital has the capacity and if it is in the best interest of the patient, then it should be done. In fact, that is why we allocated funds in budget 2018 for more external mental health beds.
We also agree with an amendment regarding the initial review of SIU transfers. The bill would require a review by the warden in the first five days. This amendment clarifies that the clock on those five days would start ticking as soon as the transfer decision was made, as opposed to the moment the inmate physically arrived in the SIU.
With minor changes, we agree with two amendments to the section of the bill that would require consideration of systemic and background factors in decisions involving indigenous offenders. One of them would provide greater precision by specifying that a person's family and adoption history should be included in the analysis. The other would clarify that these factors may be used to lower the assessment of an inmate's risk level, but not to raise it.
These provisions in themselves would obviously not be enough to solve the problem of indigenous overrepresentation in the corrections system. The upstream socio-economic factors that result in higher rates of indigenous people involved with the criminal justice system must generally be addressed in concert with other departments and agencies, and efforts to that effect are indeed under way. The Correctional Service is charged with ensuring that indigenous people in its custody get a genuine opportunity to turn their lives around, and these amendments should help advance that objective.
There are two other amendments on which we agree with the intent, and we are essentially proposing to meet the Senate halfway.
The first is an amendment that seeks to add certain elements to section 4 of the act, which establishes guiding principles for the Correctional Service. In particular, it puts a focus on alternatives to incarceration, and we agree that those alternatives should be consistently considered and used wherever appropriate.
We are, however, suggesting a few changes to the language drafted in the Senate. For example, the amendment lists sections 29, 81 and 84 of the act as alternatives to incarceration. Section 29 refers to hospital transfers, and section 81 refers to healing lodges, so their inclusion here makes sense. However, section 84 is about community-supported release following incarceration. It is not an alternative; it is the next step, so we are proposing to remove it from this list.
The amendment would also require that preference be given to alternatives to incarceration. Frankly, that is very problematic. Alternatives to incarceration should be used where appropriate, but there are situations when putting someone in prison is a valid and necessary approach. Alternatives should be considered, but not necessarily preferred.
Also, for clarity sake, we are proposing to remove or replace certain terms that do not have established legal meanings, such as “carceral isolations” or “incarcerated persons” or “a broad interpretation informed by human rights”. Certainly, everything government agencies do should be informed by human rights principles, but to be enforceable and actionable, legal terms need to have clear and precise definitions. If we asked everyone in this House to explain what it means to interpret legislation broadly and in a manner informed by human rights, we would probably get 338 different responses.
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
2019-06-19 21:58 [p.29446]
Mr. Speaker, that is why we are proposing to remove these terms. Even so, of course, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms will continue to apply to everything the Correctional Service does.
The other amendment that we are proposing to partially retain has to do with strip searches. The Senate is proposing to prohibit any strip searches conducted as a matter of routine and we wholeheartedly endorse that objective. It would not be pleasant for any of us to be strip-searched.
People in prison have often experienced trauma, including sexual abuse. Strip searches can cause them to relive that trauma and can even deter people from participating in programs like work release if they know they will be strip-searched on their way out or on their way back in. The Correctional Service should do everything possible to minimize strip searches.
That is why Bill C-83 would allow for the use of body scanners similar to what exists in airports as recommended by the United Nations. Rather than a blanket prohibition though, the government is proposing that the law require that Correctional Service use a body scanner instead of a strip search whenever one is available. That accounts for the fact that it will take some time for body scanners to be installed in every institution and it recognizes that sometimes machines break down. In those situations, correctional staff still need to be confident that inmates are not smuggling drugs, weapons or other contraband. That is important not only for staff safety but for the safety of other inmates as well. As body scanners become more available in federal institutions, strip searches should become increasingly rare.
I will now turn to the proposals from the Senate with which we respectfully disagree.
To begin with, there are two relatively similar ones that would take existing concepts used for indigenous corrections and expand them to other unspecified groups. This would apply to section 81 of the act, which allows for community-run healing lodges and section 84, which allows for community-supported release. Both of these concepts have proven valuable and successful in an indigenous context and the idea of expanding them is indeed worthy of serious consideration.
Certainly, there are other overrepresented groups in federal custody, particularly Canadians of African descent. Our government is wholly in favour of examining whether strategies that have worked for indigenous corrections can be successfully applied in other contexts and with other communities. We are opposing this amendment not because we disagree with the principle but because the serious consideration and examination I mentioned has not happened yet.
Before moving forward with something like this, there should be extensive consultations to determine which groups would be interested. Where does the capacity exist? And how the experience of the relatively few indigenous communities and organizations that run section 81 facilities is or is not applicable more broadly.
It would be a major policy change and potentially a positive one, but the study and analysis should come before we change the law, not after.
We also respectfully disagree with an amendment that would require the Correctional Service to approve the transfer to a provincial hospital of any inmate with a disabling mental health issue. As I mentioned earlier, in the 2018 budget, our government increased funding for external mental health beds. The use of provincial hospitals may be appropriate in some circumstances. The fact is, though, that it can be very difficult to find provincial hospitals willing and able to house and treat federal inmates. If we want to change the law without the aim of bringing about the transfer of a significant number of people from federal correctional institutions to provincial hospitals, it is imperative that we consult the provinces first.
It is also important for the sake of preserving the clinical independence of the health care providers who work in corrections that the law not pre-empt their professional judgment. The law already allows for these kinds of transfers where possible and appropriate and where recommended by medical professionals. At the same time, we are dramatically bolstering mental health resources within the federal correctional service so that inmates receive high-quality mental health care wherever they serve their sentence. We are also proposing not to accept an amendment that would allow sentences to be shortened on application to a court, due to acts or omissions by correctional personnel deemed to constitute unfairness in the administration of a sentence.
Once again, the goal of deterring improper conduct by correctional staff is commendable. There are a great many people working in federal corrections who are committed professionals doing excellent work. Anything less should be deterred, denounced and the persons potentially disciplined or dismissed. Inmates who are negatively impacted by inappropriate conduct on the part of correctional staff already have recourse, in the form of grievances or lawsuits, for example. The idea of retroactively shortening court-imposed sentences in these circumstances would be a major policy change. Before enacting this kind of provision, there should be consultations with stakeholders, including victims groups as well as provincial partners and other actors in the justice system. Parliamentarians in both chambers should have the opportunity to study it at length. It is not something that should be tacked on at the end of a legislative process that did not contemplate this kind of approach.
We also respectfully disagree with the recommendation to have the new system reviewed by parliamentary committees after two years rather than five. This House added a five-year review to the bill, and that is a reasonable time frame. It gives the new system time to get off the ground and be fully implemented and that will actually make Parliament's review more meaningful and impactful when it happens. In the interim, the minister will soon be appointing an advisory panel to monitor implementation of the SIUs as they roll out. That panel will be able to visit sites, meet with inmates and staff, provide feedback to the commissioner and sound the alarm if something is really not working out as it should. Of course, parliamentary committees do not need legislation to tell them what to study. Even without a legal requirement, if committees of this House or of the other place want to review the SIU system two years from now, they are perfectly free to do so.
Finally, the government respectfully disagrees with the proposal to institute judicial review of all SIU placements after 48 hours. Bill C-83 already has a strong system of binding external oversight.
Independent external decision-makers appointed by the minister will review any case where someone in an SIU has not received the minimum hours out of cell or minimum hours of meaningful human contact for five days in a row, or 15 days out of 30. They will also review cases where the Correctional Service is not following the advice of a health care professional to remove an inmate from an SIU or change their conditions. They will review all SIU placements at 90 days and every 60 days thereafter for any inmate still in the SIU at that point. That is in addition to regular and robust internal review at five, 30 and 60 days.
Simply put, judicial review of SIU placements is unnecessary. Colleagues do not have to take my word for it. At the public safety committee, the correctional investigator supported using the independent chairperson model to oversee SIUs. That is a model that uses ministerial appointees, not judges.
Plus, while no court has considered the new SIU system proposed by this bill, courts in Ontario and B.C. have rendered decisions about the kind of oversight they deem necessary for the current system of administrative segregation. In B.C., the court found that oversight of administrative segregation must be external to the Correctional Service but did not say that judicial review was required. In Ontario, the court actually found that internal review was preferable, saying, “The reviewing tribunal can have adequate independence without having all the attributes of a judge.”
Beyond being unnecessary, requiring judicial review of all SIU placements longer than 48 hours would have considerable impacts on provincial superior courts. There would need to be new judges appointed to handle the caseload. Those judges would be paid for out of federal funds and they would require support staff paid for by the provinces. There would also be changes required to the Judges Act, as well as to corresponding provincial legislation. In other words, accepting this amendment would mean imposing legislative and financial requirements on the provinces without so much as a phone call to check and see if they are on board.
If judicial review were the only way to ensure that this new system works properly and to provide the procedural safeguards required, then one could make an argument that all of these complications, making legislative amendments across the country, finding the money in federal and provincial coffers, and fast-tracking the appointment of a bunch of new judges would just have to somehow get done. However, judicial review is far from the only option. There must absolutely be robust oversight of the new system proposed by Bill C-83 and review by independent external decision-makers meets that need.
I thank all hon. senators for their efforts and their contributions. At this point, the bill truly is the product of the Parliament of Canada as a whole.
If the version we are sending back to the Senate receives royal assent, it will be a piece of legislation drafted by the government, amended by Liberal, Conservative, NDP and Green Party members, and amended by our colleagues in the Senate, as well.
For all of our frequent disagreements, this bill is a good example of the strength of the legislative process in our parliamentary democracy. Most importantly, it will significantly improve Canada's correctional system, enhancing the safety of the people who work and live in federal institutions and improving the system's effectiveness when it comes to rehabilitation and safe, successful reintegration.
I look forward to the passage and the implementation of Bill C-83.
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
2019-06-19 22:15 [p.29448]
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is always someone who contributes in committee work, and I personally appreciate the contributions he has made to this bill.
As always, on the question of judicial review versus independent oversight, there are limited resources that could actually do the work. The government has to decide where those limited resources will be used and whether anybody else can do this work.
It has been the determination that these independent decision-makers can be in the position to do this work without imposing an additional workload at the provincial and federal court levels.
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
2019-06-19 22:17 [p.29448]
Mr. Speaker, this is really a considerable move forward when it comes to the use of administrative segregation into a structured intervention unit. There will be need for infrastructure changes. There will be need for personnel changes. There will be need for programming changes and mental health care.
That number is that $448 million have been put into the latest budget to ensure we actually have the money to do this well. However, it is going to be shared over a series of requirements, everything we need to implement a structured intervention unit. We are going to do it right. Involving all the stakeholders in these decisions as we move forward will be very important.
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
2019-06-19 22:20 [p.29448]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her caring about this, for her compassion, and also the hon. member to my right.
This matters. This is not an easy thing to do. We are making significant change to the administrative segregation regime in Canada. We need to do it. The court has told us that we need to do it. There has been a letter explaining why this new way of doing administrative segregation is going to meet the court requirements.
We need to move forward with this to make it happen. Then we will be in a position of having a better chance to help people have a successful rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-06-19 22:21 [p.29449]
Mr. Speaker, because we are near the end of the session, I want to thank my staff, Brad, Erica, Susan, Ellen, Alisha and formerly Denis Sabourin for their great work.
Also, anyone in the House who has questioned the existence of the Senate, which we call the other place here, this is a great example of where it has provided a number of suggested amendments and the government is accepting a number of them. This has happened since Confederation, where laws in Canada have been approved like this.
With the structured intervention, there would be significantly more time away from the cell and more time for programming, etc. Does the bill direct Correctional Service Canada to record these times to ensure they are followed. If it does not, are there penalties in the bill for CSC?
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
2019-06-19 22:22 [p.29449]
Mr. Speaker, the answer to the first question is yes. There is a requirement to record meaningful human contact and time out of the cell, and it needs to be during reasonable day hours. It cannot be during the night. It cannot be at other inopportune times. It must be at normal operating times.
On whether there is a penalty for CSC if it does not provide that, I think there will be recourse. CSC needs to record that time and will be encouraged to meet those standards.
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
2019-06-19 22:23 [p.29449]
Mr. Speaker, the UN standard is very important, but there is also a requirement to actually be able to fulfill that. When we talk about meaningful human contact, we are also talking about the kind of programming the offenders would need. That was the problem with the old system.
If inmates were in administrative segregation, they lost so much access to the kind of programs that would help them succeed, that were would help them move past the position where they were. That kind of mental health programming, that kind of literacy programming, that kind of addiction counselling program will now be available to inmates.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Pam Damoff Profile
2019-06-19 22:36 [p.29451]
Mr. Speaker, while we are debating Bill C-83 tonight, the hon. member spent a great deal of time talking about corrections officers and the needle exchange program, which has absolutely nothing to do with this bill.
He mentioned that there has been no consultation with corrections officers. I would like to correct the record on that. I have met with them numerous time and the minister just recently spoke at their meeting in Calgary. Quite frankly, if we had not had the draconian cuts to corrections that were made over the last 10 years, our corrections officers would be much better prepared in their daily efforts at work. I have the utmost respect for corrections officers.
My question to the hon. member has to do with the Senate amendments, which is what the debate is about tonight. Will his party be supporting them?
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Pam Damoff Profile
2019-06-19 22:51 [p.29453]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by thanking the hon. member for his service to this country and everything that he has done in this place. From the bottom of my heart, I want to give him my thanks. It was truly an honour and a pleasure to work with him on the public safety committee. I have so much respect for his opinions.
I am asking this question from a very sincere place. As the member knows, we are under a timeline from the Supreme Court of Canada. We have passed this bill. It has gone to the Senate. The Senate has come back with some fairly significant amendments, some of them requiring judicial oversight, which we do not agree with. Some of them we have agreed with, such as the one for mental health assessment when a prisoner first arrives in the institution.
I am just wondering if the member feels it is important to get this legislation done, because the alternative would be that the courts would impose a solution. I just recently spoke with the past president of UCCO and I have spoken to corrections officers, and they were concerned that if we do not get this legislation done, the courts could put something else through. They are concerned that they would have zero input into that.
I am wondering what the member's thoughts are on that, and I give my thanks again for his service.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-06-19 23:17 [p.29456]
Mr. Speaker, I have two questions. I think the member answered one at the end of his speech.
I think the Conservatives will vote against this bill, this concept, because they think it makes the prisons and people more dangerous. The member is making the case that because of the effect of solitary confinement on a person's mental and social situation, it makes it more dangerous not to deal with it.
The member wants improvements to the bill, which could come with a new Parliament in the fall, or at the five-year review or through the court challenge that he mentioned. However, if the votes of the New Democrats cause the bill to be defeated so nothing happens, does the member not think some inmates could have poorer treatment this summer? There are some improvements in the bill, obviously not enough, but there is more time out of cell, more rehabilitation services, etc.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anthony Rota Profile
2019-06-19 23:19 [p.29456]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
I have a couple of things. First, as I said, the bill, despite some extremely minor improvements, will perpetuate the status quo. In fact, I would not be concerned about the bill being scrapped, because the consequence of that would the court's conditions would be imposed on Correctional Service Canada, which are much more restrictive in the use of solitary confinement.
I will go back to the other part of the member's question; I was getting to it at the end of my speech. The concerns raised by corrections officers are certainly valid. At the end of the day, the member from Oakville was correct in pointing out that the cuts they had been subject to was something they continued to have to deal with. Interestingly enough, they are also part of the reason why this practice has perpetuated.
For corrections officers, a decision has to be made about an offender who is causing an issue within the institution. If there is a mental health issue and there are no mental health resources available, or the officers do not have the resources, the only option then is to put the offender in solitary for safety reasons.
I am open to a debate on this. I proposed amendments to eliminate it at women's institutions. There is an argument from the John Howard Society and others that it still has its place in men's institutions. Ultimately, that is the role of judicial oversight. We do recognize there might be an urgency within 24 or 48 hours, maybe even over the span of a couple of days, depending on who is asked or what expert we speak to.
At the end of the day, without the proper oversight, and this bill just does not have it in my estimation, the concerns will still remain. Corrections officers are stuck. They are flying by the seat of their pants, and improvising a little. It is not something they want to do. I do not think this legislation provides them with either the resources or the clarity they seek to do the work they would like to do. Their goal is not to prejudice anyone's rights; it is the contrary. They need our help to do it and they are just not getting it.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Pam Damoff Profile
2019-06-19 23:24 [p.29457]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his work on the bill. Along with this legislation is an investment of $450 million, of which $150 million will be for mental health. I know we disagree on the legislation, but I am wondering whether the hon. member feels that this investment is important for corrections.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Pam Damoff Profile
2019-06-19 23:27 [p.29457]
Mr. Speaker, Parliament has been studying Bill C-83 for the last nine months. Its essence and objective are the same now as they were when the bill was introduced: to provide a way to separate inmates from the general population in an institution when doing so is necessary for safety reasons, without cutting off those inmates from rehabilitative interventions, programs, mental health care and meaningful human contact.
The main feature of the bill is the replacement of administrative segregation with structured intervention units, or SIUs. In SIUs, inmates would get a minimum of four hours out of the cell every day, twice as much as they currently get in administrative segregation, and for the first time, there would be a legal entitlement to meaningful human contact of at least two hours every day.
In addition to these legislative changes, the government is investing $450 million so that the Correctional Service will be able to hire the staff necessary to provide programs, interventions and mental health care in SIUs and to do it all safely. This investment is critical to the success of the SIUs.
During my conversations with both the Union of Safety and Justice Employees and the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, as well as during visits I made to corrections facilities in Edmonton and Saskatoon last year, something I heard loud and clear was that there was a need for meaningful investments in corrections to atone for 10 years of cuts by the previous Conservative government so that we can ensure the best rehabilitative outcomes for inmates, and just as importantly, ensure the safety of those who work in corrections.
My friend Stan Stapleton, the national president of the Union of Safety and Justice Employees, wrote an article in May 2019, and I would like to read from it now:
Correctional Service Canada's use of solitary confinement must change. The long-standng practice of managing difficult offenders by [the use of]...solitary confinement is totally unworkable. As Canada's courts have said, it is also profoundly inhumane. Men and women serving federal time are broken and desperate human beings in need of meaningful contact, not further isolation.
At the same time, federal prisons are fraught with danger. The pressure cooker environment and threats of violence lead some prisoners to seek time away from the general population for their own sanity and safety.
Other offenders with a strong propensity for violence and few coping skills simply cannot manage long periods with others without posing a real threat. In a system with few safety valves, administrative segregation (or solitary confinement) has tragically become one of the few.
The new legislation proposes significant changes to solitary. Bill C-83 definitely won't solve everything, but it's a worthy next step. It will mandate that Correctional Service Canada dedicate the appropriate human resources for sustained rehabilitative efforts. Until now, the opportunity for parole officers, program officers, and teachers to spend quality time with the highest needs offenders has been minimal, if existent.
It will render offenders separated from the general population a priority, instead of an after-thought, within Corrections. It will enforce better reporting and accountability mechanisms.
I believe the proposed segregation units will benefit from independent oversight outside of Corrections, as is proposed by the Bill. This is crucial. But to ensure that the Bill does what is intended, the Correctional Service needs to glean the ongoing wisdom of those on the front lines of rehabilitating offenders every day....
A commitment to keep all Canadians safe means serious investments in rehabilitating all offenders in federal prisons, 90 percent of whom will be released back into the community, ready or not. I am hopeful that Bill C-83 passes so that the real work can begin.
That is the end of the article.
I want to thank Stan for his years of service to corrections, for his assistance with my understanding of our corrections system and for providing all of us with the critical perspective of those working in corrections.
Let me return to Bill C-83. The amendments made at the public safety committee last fall addressed practical concerns raised by certain witnesses to help ensure that the new system would function as intended.
The committee heard from indigenous groups, including Dr. Allen Benson and the Native Women's Association of Canada, who called for changes to the definition of indigenous organizations to ensure that it properly captured the diverse range of indigenous groups and organizations working on these issues across Canada.
Following the discussion, the committee was able to unanimously approve an amendment that called for indigenous organizations to predominantly have indigenous leadership. We also heard about the need for CSC to seek advice, particularly in matters of mental health and behaviours, from indigenous spiritual leaders or elders. I was pleased that my amendment to that effect was adopted at committee.
The bill has changed in significant ways since it was first introduced. I am proud to work for a government that is amenable to feedback and was receptive to amendments, informed by witness testimony that we heard at the public safety committee, that make the bill even stronger.
At report stage, we made a major additional amendment, one that I am incredibly proud to have introduced, that creates a mechanism to provide binding, independent, external oversight of SIUs.
The Senate has sent the bill back to us with some additional proposals. I appreciate the intent of all of the Senate's proposals and I am glad the government is accepting several of them, in whole or in part.
Those that we are accepting include the following: mandatory mental health assessments for all inmates within 30 days of admission and within 24 hours of transfer to an SIU; adding precision to the section of the bill that requires the Correctional Service to consider systemic and background factors in decisions affecting indigenous inmates; establishing the consideration of alternatives to incarceration, where appropriate, as a guiding principle of the Correctional Service; and minimizing the use of strip searches.
Other proposals from the Senate are interesting ideas, but they really should be studied as stand-alone items rather than included as amendments to this bill. For example, the idea of expanding the use of measures developed for indigenous corrections to non-indigenous inmates might be valid. When I visited the Pê Sâkâstêw and Buffalo Sage healing lodges in Edmonton last year, I saw first-hand the incredible impact that the programming in these institutions was having on outcomes for inmates who are serving their sentences there.
At Buffalo Sage, I was honoured to take part in a circle with Elder Vicky and hearing from strong female offenders, women who have survived what life has thrown at them and are now on a healing journey, immersed in their culture and on the road to rehabilitation and reintegration. These were women who had escaped violent abusers and themselves ended up in prison, women whose lack of housing and poverty led them to the criminal justice system, and women who lost their children to the foster system. One individual at Buffalo Sage shared with me that for the first time since entering the correction system, at Buffalo Sage she felt that she was able to heal.
I also had the privilege of visiting Pê Sâkâstêw, a men's healing lodge, where I had a memorable meeting with a 39-year-old indigenous man who first came into the justice system at 12 as a young offender. After a life in and out of jail, a life that included abuse and addictions, he was serving a sentence for robbery and now was on a successful healing journey. He lives as a man in prison and a woman outside, and prefers the “he” pronoun. He had reconnected with his community for the first time in 20 years.
I have a lot more that I could say in support of healing lodges and their impact on correctional outcomes for indigenous offenders, but a lot of work would have to go into determining how the Senate's vision would be executed, including what aspects could be borrowed from indigenous programming, what elements would have to be redesigned, what kind of community support exists and where the funding would come from without diminishing from the services provided to the indigenous prison population, which we know is the fastest-growing prison population in Canada.
Another example from the Senate is a proposal designed to deter misconduct by correctional employees and to support inmates affected by it.
It is important to point out that the vast majority of correctional staff are trained professionals doing a very hard job with skill and dedication. They are individuals for whom I have the utmost respect, who work in a job that gets little in the way of accolades from Canadians. Whenever there is an issue with someone working in corrections, we must absolutely address those situations. However, in my opinion, the Senate's proposal of shortening inmates' sentences because of the conduct of correctional personnel is not the right approach.
The Senate has also proposed an amendment that would require the authorization of a provincial superior court for any SIU placement longer than 48 hours.
Once more, I understand and share the objective of ensuring that SIUs are properly used. Robust oversight will help see to it that SIUs will be a last resort, that placements in SIUs will be as short as possible, and that inmates in SIUs are receiving all the time out of cell and meaningful human contact to which the bill entitles them.
It is important to note that in the context of administrative segregation, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has found that placements must be examined by the fifth working day by a reviewer who is “completely outside the circle of influence of the person whose decision is being reviewed” and ”able to substitute its decision for that of the person whose decision is being reviewed.” The court was explicit that the reviewer need not be external to the Correctional Service Canada and, in fact, recommending “an administrative review provided by the Correctional Service of Canada.” While this finding was specifically in relation to administrative segregation and not SIUs, Bill C-83 would create a review process for SIUs consistent with what the court required for administrative segregation.
Under Bill C-83, SIU placements will be reviewed by the fifth working day by the institutional head who does not report to the initial decision-maker and who has the authority to overturn the initial decision. Importantly, whether in the context of administrative segregation or SIUs, no court has required judicial oversight and no court has set 48 hours as a timeline for review of any kind.
I would remind the House that robust oversight was discussed at length at the public safety committee, and has already been added to the bill in my report stage amendment.
Independent external decision-makers would be appointed by the minister to review any case where an inmate in an SIU does not get the minimum hours out of cell or minimum hours of meaningful human contact for five days in a row or 15 days out of 30. They will also review situations where Correctional Service Canada does not accept the advice of a health care professional to remove an inmate from an SIU or change their conditions. In addition, they will review all SIU placements at 90 days and every 60 days thereafter for inmates still there at that point.
The determinations of independent external decision-makers will be binding and reviewable by the Federal Court. All of that external oversight is on top of regular reviews within the Correctional Service, beginning on the fifth day of placement in an SIU.
There are several advantages to using independent adjudicators rather than judges to provide oversight in this context. For one thing, our courts already have a heavy case load. Giving them additional responsibilities would mean giving them additional resources, namely increasing the number of Superior Court judges, which involves changes to legislation and making budgetary allocations both at federal and provincial levels.
That raises another problem. There are provincial Superior Courts. We should not be adding to their workload to this extent without engaging in thorough consultations with the provinces.
Also, the flexibility of a system of independent adjudicators is a big advantage in this context. A few of them could be stationed in different parts of the country and could be reactive to needs in different provinces. With judges, they are appointed permanently to a specific court and only deal with cases in their jurisdiction. Even for the current system of administrative segregation, the courts have not said that a judicial review is required. The Ontario Superior Court actually expressed a preference for non-judicial review, so decisions could be made faster.
Ultimately, while I appreciate the intent of the Senate's proposal about judicial review, an independent adjudication system already in Bill C-83 can meet the need for oversight without the drawbacks of using the courts.
I appreciate all the Senate's contributions and hard work. This bill has gotten a lot of attention from parliamentarians over the last nine months, and rightly so.
We entrust Correctional Services with the task of carrying out sentences that are supposed to be a deterrent to and punishment for criminal activity and we entrust it with the physical separation of potentially dangerous people from the rest of Canadian society. At the same time, we charge the Correctional Service with the rehabilitation through measures including behaviour counselling, anger management programs, mental health care, substance abuse treatment, education and vocational training.
In a country like Canada, we demand that these tasks all be carried out humanely and with respect, even for the rights of people who have done terrible things, and in accordance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Bill C-83 would help ensure that all these goals can be achieved.
When I spoke to this bill at report stage, I said that I felt strongly that the legislation, combined with the additional investments from our government, would transform our correctional system. That is why I support the legislation and the motion before us today. I urge my colleagues to do the same.
This is the last time I will be speaking in the House before we rise. I would like to acknowledge my staff who are present today: Hilary Lawson and Conor Lewis. This legislation benefited from the input of Hilary, and it would not be the legislation that it is right now without her hard work. Conor has worked with me on the status of women committee. I can quite confidently say that I have the best staff on the Hill. I thank them both for all of their efforts.
I would also like to extend my thanks to the members of the public safety committee who are here tonight. I am sorry I do not know their ridings, but they have both spoken tonight. They have both been incredible members to work with. It is rare that we see members work across the aisle as well as we did on the public safety committee on issues that were by nature very controversial. We always found a way to work together, and even when we did not agree we always did it in a very agreeable way. I would like to commend them for their work, as well as my Liberal colleagues on the committee. We got a lot of good work done, and this bill is one that I am very proud of. I will be going back to my riding knowing that we have passed legislation that will truly be transformative for our corrections system.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Pam Damoff Profile
2019-06-19 23:45 [p.29460]
Mr. Speaker, I know that the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada have both reviewed this legislation. They did send a letter to the Senate today with regard to some of the amendments that the senators felt they needed to make, in order to, in their opinion, bring the bill to be constitutional. However, Bill C-83 does meet the requirements that the courts were looking for. The courts did not require judicial oversight. No court set 48 hours as a timeline for review.
Yes, we do believe that this bill is constitutional. I will rely on the judgment of my colleagues, in particular the Minister of Justice, who has far more experience than I do on this, that the bill is what we need to do to move forward and to meet the demands from the court.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Pam Damoff Profile
2019-06-19 23:47 [p.29460]
Mr. Speaker, I have met the hon. member's in-laws. They are wonderful people, and I am very proud to represent them. He is probably right that they are not Liberal supporters, but that is okay, because I represent all the residents of Oakville North—Burlington in this place.
I think the member is talking about this in the context of people who have gone to prison. They are in prison and their freedom has been taken away. They are serving time that has been determined by the courts. They are receiving a punishment, but that does not mean they are not entitled to human rights.
Most importantly, as I said in my speech, 90% of people who go to prison will be released, so it is important for us to recognize what kind of people we want to release from prison. They will be our neighbours. They will be in our neighbourhoods and in our communities. We want to ensure the public safety of all Canadians, and in order to do that, we need to provide things like programming to help them deal with mental health issues, provide rehabilitative programming and provide them with the human rights that we expect not only for Canadians but for people all around the world.
I know the hon. member feels quite strongly about human rights around the world. While we may disagree on some issues, I think on this one we are in complete agreement.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-06-19 23:49 [p.29460]
Mr. Speaker, I too would like to thank the member for all her hard work on this file at committee and her very good amendments, which make this bill much better. I am sure she has more to say, so I will leave her time to do that, instead of asking a question.
However, I want to make one comment for the next Parliament. A number of people in solitary have FASD, and those people are not treated appropriately in the correctional system because of their affliction. I presented a bill earlier this year, which almost passed. Hopefully, some parliamentarians here will pick that up in the next Parliament.
I will let the member continue on the topic she was doing so well on.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Pam Damoff Profile
2019-06-19 23:49 [p.29460]
Mr. Speaker, I heard something yelled across the way. I actually supported the member's bill.
When I visited Edmonton Max, someone said in a meeting that if there was one thing that could be done in corrections, it would be to deal with individuals who have FASD. The Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon is running a pilot program. As the hon. member knows, and I do commend him for his efforts on that, individuals with FASD can be difficult to diagnose. They can have behavioural issues and, as a result, often end up in administrative segregation.
I do believe that with this bill, because of the additional mental health supports that will be provided in prisons, individuals with FASD who have been ending up in solitary confinement will now be going into an SIU, where they will get the supports they need and we can start to deal with that.
In addition, I have to say that the Senate's amendment that would require an assessment within 30 days of arriving at an institution would go a long way toward ensuring that individuals with FASD are diagnosed upon admittance. That way, staff will have the knowledge they need to deal with those offenders.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Pam Damoff Profile
2019-06-19 23:52 [p.29461]
Mr. Speaker, I just want to be clear that we would never put the safety of anyone working in corrections at risk. That is why we are investing $448 million, in addition to this bill, that was in the fall economic statement.
When we talk to corrections officers, when we talk to parole officers, they have said that the only way this can work is with an additional investment, and that is what we have done. This will allow for more staff, for the infrastructure that is needed to implement these SIUs. It will allow for hiring additional mental health care professionals.
The government is putting money behind the legislation to ensure that it will be successful, to ensure that people who work in corrections always have the support they need, unlike the previous government that cut corrections because it was the easy thing to do. Conservatives cut prison farms, they cut programming, and they actually put the public at risk because they were not allowing individuals in prison to get the programming they needed to be rehabilitated and released into the community.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-06-17 12:04 [p.29163]
moved:
That, in relation to Bill C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Act, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration of the Senate amendments stage of the said bill; and
That, at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration of the Senate amendments to the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-17 12:07 [p.29164]
Mr. Speaker, we have arrived at the stage of debate where there is now an opportunity for the House to respond to the work that was done in relation to this legislation by the Senate. In other words, the bill has had a thorough debate in the House. It has passed through all the stages in the House. It has had extensive committee hearings. It has gone to the Senate and has been reviewed there. The Senate has considered the legislation, made a number of amendments and sent the bill back to the House with those amendments.
The point is that this is a very advanced stage of debate. We are not beginning with the bill in its raw form; we are beginning with the bill at a very advanced stage. Therefore, members have had extensive opportunity to debate, consider and in fact make amendments.
The point of contention between the House and the Senate is the independent review process that was crafted by the House. Therefore, we are defending the position that was taken by the House on the very important question of how there could be proper review and oversight of the correctional system.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-17 12:10 [p.29164]
Mr. Speaker, with the greatest respect, I have to disagree with the hon. gentleman.
First, he was critical of omnibus legislation. This is not omnibus legislation. It is legislation pertaining specifically to the correctional service and is focused upon one piece of legislation, not a number of different bills.
Second, he was concerned about what he called a “gag” order or the closure procedure. This is not a closure procedure. This is time allocation, which is qualitatively different from what he was criticizing.
Third, I would point out that amendments to the legislation have been welcomed and accepted from all parties in the House and indeed by the Senate as well.
Therefore, this is not a peremptory approach. There has been a huge amount of debate and a lot of input. That input has been weighed very carefully and a great deal of it has been accepted.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-17 12:12 [p.29165]
Mr. Speaker, there have been many hours and days of debate in consideration of the legislation through all the stages in the House of Commons and in the Senate. We are now at the point of responding to the Senate's recommendations. It is not as if the debate was just beginning today or four minutes ago. In fact, the motion that was moved by the House leader provided for five more hours of debate on the specific question of how the House would respond to the recommendations made by the Senate.
This is not a closure motion, it is time allocation and it follows the full length of parliamentary procedure through both the House of Commons and the Senate, where many worthy suggestions have been made, a lot of very well-informed debate has taken place and many amendments have been accepted. We are now into the final stages of that discussion where it is appropriate for the House to take a decision and to vote.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-06-17 12:13 [p.29165]
Mr. Speaker, there seems to be a great deal of concern in regard to the process of things. We have seen member after member stand up on a wide variety of pieces of legislation. Even when I was in opposition, at times we need to use this tool in order to advance legislation. We could see opposition members debating things indefinitely, unless either the tool of time allocation is used or the opposition is prepared to allow the debate to come to an end.
I wonder if my colleague can provide his thoughts on the matter that time allocation is a tool that is necessary at times, that we have seen New Democrats and Conservatives support time allocation, and that this is not outside the norm.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-17 12:14 [p.29165]
Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary is quite right. There are occasions when such procedures are perfectly appropriate, and that is especially the case when we are into the final days of a Parliament. We all know what the parliamentary calendar is, and it is important for key measures to be approved by Parliament while the time remains for that work to get done.
I would point out that the matters at issue in this legislation are also before a number of courts in this country where the courts have set a deadline. They have indicated that Parliament has an obligation to take certain decisions one way or the other, to make up their minds and vote, so that certain situations pertaining in the correctional system can be corrected. If Parliament is not able to take those decisions in a timely way, that could in fact throw the system into chaos. Therefore, because of the court proceedings, it is also important for Parliament to be timely in bringing this legislation to a conclusion.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-17 12:17 [p.29165]
Mr. Speaker, I am glad the hon. gentleman brought up the issue of consultation because, as always, we try our very best to consult with all of those who have a stake in the decisions that are made with respect to our public safety systems in this country.
A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to attend the triennial meeting of the major union that represents correctional officers who work at the various institutions across this country, including the one in the hon. gentleman's riding. That national meeting of the union was held in Calgary. It was very well attended by correctional officers all over the country. We had the opportunity to discuss this specific legislation. It was clear from that discussion that the union representatives were anxious to see legislation of this nature proceed because it is needed for the safety of the officers, the inmates and the other members of the public who attend from time to time within the correctional system. Indeed, that consultation has taken place.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2019-06-17 12:19 [p.29166]
Mr. Speaker, once the discussion about time allocation has concluded, members will have five additional hours of debate to consider this stage, which is on top of all of the stages in the Senate, which was on top of all of the previous stages in the House of Commons.
There has been extensive opportunity to examine the details of this legislation. In particular, the portions of the legislation that are subject to the advice and recommendations coming from the Senate are the portions of the legislation which this House and the committee examined in detail, and made extensive changes and improvements to during the course of the parliamentary committee's work.
It is not as if this is a new subject that suddenly has been sprung upon the House of Commons or upon the public safety and national security committee of the House. The House examined this in detail, and in fact renovated these provisions in detail. It was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, who was not in that role at that time but who was a member of the public safety committee who moved those extensive amendments, which were then debated in the House and adopted in detail by the House.
There has been very careful, conscientious attention given to this issue by members of the House of Commons.
Results: 1 - 30 of 340 | Page: 1 of 12

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>|
Export As: XML CSV RSS

For more data options, please see Open Data