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Results: 1 - 11 of 11
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 Bruce Stanton Profile
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2019-06-19 22:25 [p.29449]
Does the hon. member for Battle River—Crowfoot have the unanimous consent of the House to regard this time slot as a 20 and 10 for the purpose of splitting his time?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-03-01 10:32 [p.26006]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to seek unanimous consent to split my time with the member for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock.
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Winnipeg North.
I am pleased to have this opportunity to rise at third reading of Bill C-83. This important piece of legislation proposes significant reforms to Canada's correctional system. These changes would make our federal correctional institutions safer places for staff and inmates alike, and that in turn would contribute to greater safety for people in our communities.
Under Bill C-83, administrative segregation would be eliminated and a new correctional intervention model would be established through the implementation of structured intervention units, SIUs, which would serve to address the safety and security risks of offenders who are at any given time too dangerous or disruptive to be managed in the mainstream inmate population. When those offenders need to be separated for safety reasons, they would be placed in an SIU. While they are there, they would continue to have access to the interventions and programming they need to make progress on their correctional plan and improve their likelihood of rehabilitation.
The goal is to help offenders reintegrate into the mainstream inmate population as quickly as possible. That has been the main goal of Bill C-83 from the very beginning and remains so today in the bill's current form. We have arrived at a very solid, concise and thorough piece of legislation that was very strong to begin with. That is a testament to a robust, democratic and healthy legislative process, including thoughtful discussion in this chamber and careful scrutiny and informative testimony at committee. That process led to a number of amendments that have strengthened this bill.
Many of those amendments focus on additional measures to ensure that the SIUs would operate as intended. For example, amendments were made to specify that daily time outside an SIU cell must be offered between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. and that opportunities to interact through human contact must not be mediated or interposed by physical barriers.
Other amendments are about enhancing oversight and transparency when it comes to SIU placement decisions. However, today I would like to focus on one amendment in particular, proposed by the member for Oakville North—Burlington, which would introduce a new independent external decision-making function.
Under Bill C-83, independent external decision-makers would review an inmate's placement in an SIU if it falls under any one of three specific circumstances.
The first circumstance is if an inmate has not received or taken advantage of the opportunity to spend a minimum of four hours a day outside of their cell or two hours of interaction with others or five consecutive days or 15 cumulative days over a 30-day period. The second is if an inmate has been confined to an SIU for 90 consecutive days. The third is if a health care committee of senior officials from the Correctional Service of Canada has made the determination to maintain an inmate in an SIU contrary to the recommendations of a registered health professional.
This process would ensure that decisions to maintain an inmate in an SIU would be subject to scrutiny and ongoing assessment at specific time periods through a mechanism that would operate at arm's length from the Correctional Service of Canada.
Reviews conducted by independent external decision-makers would create additional external monitoring of inmates who are placed in SIUs. This would include vulnerable inmates, such as those who are not participating in programming or interventions or receiving meaningful human contact. It would also support transparency around decisions to maintain vulnerable inmates in an SIU. In all cases, the external decision-maker would be authorized to order the inmate to be released from the SIU entirely.
In addition, when it has been recommended by a registered health care professional, the external decision-maker could order the modification of the inmate's conditions of confinement in the SIU. The proposed addition of the independent external decision-maker's response was one of the main points raised at the committee stage by various witnesses. More specifically, concerns were raised that inmates in an SIU could still be subjected to indeterminate and prolonged confinement. The introduction of an additional external review mechanism addresses these concerns and would help keep our correctional system safe, lawful and accountable.
Another issue that was raised by witnesses at committee, including those representing front-line staff in federal correctional institutions, involved whether additional resources would be made available to support the implementation of the bill.
To ensure that our federal correctional system has the resources it needs to successfully implement the changes proposed in Bill C-83, the government announced a total of $448 million in funding for corrections in last year's fall economic statement. That includes approximately $297 million over six years to implement the proposed SIUs, funding that, in the words of the Minister of Public Safety would ensure that Correctional Service Canada “has people with the right skill sets in the right places at the right times”.
Canada's federal correctional system is already in a class of its own. Operating in a challenging environment, it does a remarkable job of fulfilling its objectives of holding guilty parties to account, while fostering their rehabilitation. An important part of that rehabilitation process is making sure that offenders, including those who must be separated, are able to take part in reintegration programming in order to make progress against the objectives set out in their correctional plan.
That programming is essential to a successful transition to the mainstream inmate population, and after that, to the community at the end of a sentence. The bill would improve the way that works. In doing so, it would help bring about safer institutions for staff and inmates, in the short term. In the long run, it would mean fewer repeat offenders, fewer victims and safer communities for all.
Getting the bill to where it is today has been a truly collaborative effort. I have been impressed and heartened by the careful attention and constructive input given to the bill from all parties and all corners. I would like to thank hon. members for the roles they have played throughout that entire process so far. The result is improved legislation that, if passed, I am confident will lead to a better, safer and more effective correctional system.
For all these reasons, I will be voting in favour of Bill C-83 at third reading and I encourage all my hon. colleagues to join me in doing the same.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
That it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security that, during its consideration of Bill C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Act, the Committee be granted the power to expand the scope of the Bill in order to forbid those convicted of the murder of a child from serving any portion of their sentence in a healing lodge.
He said: Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Durham.
This morning, we moved a motion that we consider to be very important. I would like to give a brief overview of Bill C-83, which seeks to change inmates' conditions, since the motion is very closely related to the bill. Bill C-83 seeks to eliminate the use of administrative segregation in correctional facilities and replace it with structured intervention units, to use prescribed body scanners, to establish parameters for access to health care, and to formalize exceptions for indigenous offenders.
This bill obviously contains some reasonable measures that are worth considering. We should all consider how we can change and improve the overall prison program. However, we have a problem in that regard.
Everyone agrees that a criminal has to serve their lawful sentence, but we cannot allow penitentiaries to become five-star Hilton hotels. Otherwise, there will be no incentive for individuals to give up their life of crime.
After our initial reading of the bill, we are not only disappointed, but also discouraged to see that this government is still working to help criminals instead of thinking of the victims.
Three weeks ago, we asked the Prime Minister and his team why they transferred a child murderer to a healing lodge instead of keeping her behind bars at a maximum-security penitentiary. The Prime Minister was either incapable of answering the question or unwilling to do so. On this lovely, rainy Friday on Parliament Hill, hundreds of people are outside asking the same question. They do not understand why this child murderer is at a healing lodge in Saskatchewan.
I gave notice of this motion at the beginning of the week, and it just so happens that, on Wednesday, October 31, Global News published an article by Abigail Bimman about the brother of murderer Terri-Lynne McClintic. Her own brother is disgusted by what is going on. He says his sister is not indigenous, that she manipulated the system, and that she should be sent back to a maximum-security penitentiary to serve her sentence. Her brother says his sister “is no more indigenous than I am green from the planet Mars”.
This case has been the subject of much debate here in the House of Commons. The government accused us of raising a sensitive issue and said we should not take advantage of the death of a police officer, but I believe Canadians understand that the Liberal government's position was untenable. It is unacceptable for a child killer who claims to be indigenous to be sent to an indigenous healing lodge. To be clear, healing lodges are minimum-security facilities. There is no security, so people can come and go and do as they please, even if they do not have that right. A child killer should not be in a place like that.
I believe that what our motion is calling for is very reasonable because Canadians believe that child killers should not be held in healing centres or minimum-security prisons. They should serve their sentence in maximum-security penitentiaries.
Furthermore, we just learned that the Minister of Public Safety received a report from Correctional Service Canada regarding its investigation of the circumstances surrounding the transfer of Ms. McClintic from a maximum-security prison to a healing centre. I am therefore asking the minister to table this report at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security so we can consult it, read the recommendations concerning Bill C-83 and ensure they are implemented.
At some point, there must be some common sense in this country. Unacceptable things are happening. I know it is not that easy to govern a country. We will be in that position next year, but in the meantime it is the Liberals' job.
All we are doing is proposing a few things to help keep the country running smoothly and ensure that Canadians continue to trust our justice system and believe that criminals will have to face consequences. Giving criminals a chance to live a good life while leaving victims to cope with sadness and sorrow is simply unacceptable.
View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2018-10-19 10:02 [p.22603]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here to speak to this bill. Over the last couple of days, I have heard a number of speakers in the House who have had varying and interesting opinions with respect to this bill. I think it is safe to say that a lot of work and extensive consultation went into getting to where we are with Bill C-83 at this time.
I want to start by congratulating the people who work in our correctional centres across this country. Many of them I have had the opportunity to meet at many different institutions, and some of them I know personally, so I know that their work in our institutions is often not valued in the way it should be. I really believe that the work they do is exceptional and in the best interests of ensuring safety for all who are in our institutions, including themselves.
A correctional institution is a unique environment. I believe that all Canadians realize that. They also realize that it needs to be controlled and managed effectively. Doing so in the best interests of the people who work there, the inmates and, ultimately, public safety is going to be truly important and a key to success.
When inmates are at risk of causing harm to themselves or others, it really puts our correctional institutions to the test in handling those risks and challenges and mitigating any harm that could come. Correctional staff are tasked every day with making sure that everyone is safe. They need to factor in physical and mental health concerns and consider inmates' correctional plans. High-risk inmates can pose serious management challenges, and in all cases, safety is paramount.
Today we have a new opportunity to move forward with a bold new approach to these challenges. Bill C-83 would eliminate the use of segregation in the Canadian federal corrections system. In its place, the bill would create what are called structured intervention units, or SIUs. SIUs would provide an appropriate living environment for inmates who could not be maintained in the mainstream inmate population for security or other reasons. An inmate could be transferred to an SIU only if the commissioner or delegated authority was satisfied that there was no other reasonable alternative and that the inmate's stay there would end as soon as it possibly could.
The SIUs would provide inmates with the opportunity for meaningful human contact through programs. They would allow for interventions and services tailored to respond to their specific needs and risks. We have already heard from many of my colleagues about some of the specific needs that are currently not being met and that are causing unsafe and harmful practices.
Structured interventions would address the underlying behaviour that led to an inmate's placement in an SIU. Correctional programming would continue. I think it is important that people understand that.
During their time in an SIU, inmates would have an opportunity to spend a maximum of four hours a day outside their cells. That is double the number of hours in the current segregation system.
As the bill stipulates, an inmate's stay would be subject to ongoing monitoring, including monitoring of their health while in a structured unit. A registered health care professional would visit the inmate in an SIU at least once every day.
These are welcome changes that would make correctional institutions safer and enhance the safety of Canadian communities.
I should have said at the outset that I will be splitting my time with the member for London North Centre.
As I said, a registered health care professional would visit the inmate at least once every day. This is necessary because of the health care needs of certain incarcerated individuals. However, it is important to say that this bill would include additional measures that would strengthen our corrections system. It would establish a patient advocacy service to ensure that inmates understand their rights and get the medical care they need. This would not only address the concerns raised at the inquest into the death of Ashley Smith, who was in segregation at the time, but would address calls from the Office of the Correctional Investigator.
Providing health care in a correctional institution is a challenging job. It requires a unique skill set that can make a real difference in improving living conditions within a correctional institution and in contributing to better safety. The bill would affirm the obligation of the service to support these health care professionals in maintaining their autonomy and clinical independence.
The service would also have an obligation to ensure that systemic and background factors unique to indigenous offenders were considered in all correctional decision-making. For the first time, that obligation would be enshrined in law as a guiding principle. That could mean, for example, that if an indigenous offender was placed in an SIU, individual or small group interventions would be tailored to their particular needs. Under this model, resources such as elders, aboriginal liaison personnel and specifically trained parole officers would provide culturally appropriate and responsive interventions for indigenous offenders. This would support calls to action 30 and 36 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and it would advance key mandate commitments to address gaps in services for indigenous people and those with mental illness throughout the criminal justice system.
This focus on indigenous inmates would complement steps the government has taken to enhance indigenous communities and to invest in the rehabilitation and safe reintegration of indigenous people who have come into contact with the criminal justice system. In budget 2017, we allocated $65.2 million over four years to address the overrepresentation of indigenous people in the criminal justice and correctional system. Of that money, $10 million has been allocated to indigenous community corrections initiatives. Under this program, public safety support projects help previously incarcerated indigenous people reintegrate safely and productively into their communities.
As I close, I feel that it is helpful to look at this proposed legislation in a much larger context. Overall, Canada is a very safe country, but we must not take that for granted. Strengthening our correctional system is an ongoing process and one that requires our constant attention. Bill C-83 would take us further down that path.
Our government wants to help ensure that we not only hold guilty parties to account for illegal behaviour but that we also create a custodial environment that fosters rehabilitation. The goal is fewer repeat offenders, fewer victims and safer communities.
While there is much more work to do, Bill C-83 would bring us closer to where we need to be. I encourage all members to join me in supporting Bill C-83 and in supporting those Canadians who are asking for this reform and modernization of the correctional centre program.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
View John McKay Profile
2018-10-18 11:38 [p.22541]
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Brampton Centre.
This initiative goes back quite a long way for me. I want to recognize the former member for Kitchener Centre, the hon. Karen Redman, who raised the issue of Ashley Smith's death and how it affected so many of us, in caucus and outside of caucus, particularly for people like me who are not from Kitchener.
I want to begin by reading the dry coroner's report, which states:
Coroner's Inquest Touching the Death of Ashley Smith.
Aged: 19
Name of Deceased: Ashley Smith
Date and Time of Death: October 19, 2007, 8:10 a.m.
Place of Death: St. Mary's General Hospital in Kitchener
Cause of Death: Ligature strangulation and positional asphyxia
By What Means: homicide
That is the coroner's way of introducing what is in fact a substantive report that forms, in part, the basis for the initiative in Bill C-83.
The newspaper report is a little more graphic. It states:
Smith, 19, originally from Moncton, N.B., was imprisoned at the Grand Valley Institution in Kitchener, Ont., when she died in 2007.
She had tied a piece of cloth around her neck while guards stood outside her cell door and watched. They had been ordered by senior staff not to enter her cell as long as she was breathing.
In the last year of Smith's life, [she] was shuffled 17 times between nine institutions in five provinces.
She was clearly a troubled young lady, but there was still a massive failure on the part of the institutions that were responsible for housing her, and ultimately for her death.
The minister of the day, the hon. member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, said after receipt of the coroner's report: “My thoughts and prayers go out to Ms. Smith's family. I've asked my officials to review carefully the jury's recommendations”. That was on December 19, 2013. At that time, he was the federal minister of public safety and emergency preparedness.
Here we are, more than 10 years after Ms. Smith's death, looking at a bill that incorporates of many of the recommendations contained in the coroner's report. Clearly, nothing was done from 2007 to 2015, when the previous government ceased to be the government. Three years later, we are now preparing this, in some respects driven by the forces of civil society, but also by the reality of two lawsuits, which at its core means the current system is not sustainable.
Among the recommendations of the coroner's report is that CSC ensure that nursing services are available on site for all inmates; that CSC expand the scope and terms of psychiatric contracts to enable them to perform duties in a meaningful way; that decisions about clinical management of inmates be made by doctors, not CSC staff; that inmates must have access to an independent patient advocate system; that indefinite solitary confinement for prisoners be abolished; and that meetings between prisoners and support staff should not happen through food slots. That was something that happened frequently with Ms. Smith.
We have a long way to go, and I do not pretend to assume that Bill C-83 responds to each and every recommendation. My colleague, the NDP critic for public safety, highlighted some of the real questions that would be properly posed to the minister before a committee. Hopefully, the responses of both the minister and the head of Correctional Service Canada will be helpful in assuaging him about the concerns that are legitimately raised, both in the coroner's report and in the lawsuits that have come up.
The Prime Minister was so concerned about the inadequacies of, for want of a better term, solitary confinement that he actually incorporated it into the mandates of the justice minister and the public safety minister.
The justice minister's mandate says, “recommendations from the inquest into the death of Ashley Smith regarding the restriction of the use of solitary confinement and the treatment of those with mental illness.”
The mandate letter of the public safety minister, states, “address gaps in services to Indigenous Peoples and those with mental illness throughout the criminal justice system”.
In 2013, we had a coroner's inquiry and recommendations coming out of the death of Ashley Smith in 2007. In 2013, the Conservative Party said that its thoughts and prayers went out to the family. The Liberal Party became the Liberal government in 2015. Incorporated into the mandate letters of two senior ministers were the requirement that they deal with these issues. Now we have Bill C-83 on those issues.
In addition, the corrections commissioner has further been mandated to help create a “safe, secure and humane” corrections environment and to address the physical and mental health of inmates, among other priorities. In fact, two weeks ago, the new head of CSC, Anne Kelly, spoke to her mandate. Indeed, members had every opportunity to question her about her mandate and also to see how this part of her mandate might well be fulfilled.
Most significant is that Bill C-83 would put an end to segregation. In Ontario and British Columbia, two constitutional challenges have found that the legislation governing the administrative segregation is contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. My friends in the Conservative Party might wish that to go away. They probably wish the charter would go away. Nevertheless, two of the most significant provinces in the country have said that the way things are being done is not sustainable and is contrary to the Constitution.
It is quite clear that what is motivating in part, beyond the mandates etc., is the reality of the NGO community and these class action lawsuits. The time to act clearly is now.
It is clear that large parts of the administrative segregation provisions of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act will no longer be in existence in two of Canada's most populous provinces. The Conservative Party's position seems to be to just let people sit in the current system anyway. That is neither a very morally nor legally sustainable position.
In my opinion, taking prisoners out of administrative segregation and putting them into a situation is a greater benefit to public safety.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2018-10-18 13:34 [p.22555]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to this very important legislation.
I come from a part of the country that has six penitentiary facilities in the immediate areas. It used to be seven before the former Conservative government closed one of them.
People in my riding take great pride in the work that our correctional officers do. We regard the work they do in their role of rehabilitating and reintegrating inmates into society to be an extremely serious one. From the guards to the parole officers, from program staff to medical professionals, correctional employees work hard around the clock, in challenging environments, to keep our institutions safe and to support effective rehabilitation, which ultimately protects Canadian communities.
Correctional officers and workers represent a professional workforce of nearly 18,000 employees, all engaged in the success of the corrections system and the fulfillment of the mandate of Correctional Service of Canada. That is complemented by the nearly 6,000 volunteers in the institutions and in the community, not to mention the elders, chaplains and many other unsung heroes. When people who have broken the law return safely to society and to our communities, that is a testament to their work and it is essential to the safety of our communities. Our number one priority is the safety of Canadians.
This summer, I had the opportunity to go on a tour of the closed facility in the Kingston area, the former Kingston Penitentiary. We had an opportunity to hear from various former and retired correctional officers. Through that tour, I learned a great deal about their dedication to our justice system, but also the many dangers they faced in the safety aspects of their jobs. That is why I applaud the efforts of the government and I am supportive of correctional employees and the work they do in ensuring the federal correctional institutions provide a safe and secure environment for staff and inmates.
Within the secure environment, effective rehabilitative interventions reduce the risk of reoffending and help keep our communities safe. The goal is to have fewer repeat offenders, fewer victims and ultimately safer communities. That is why the mandate letters to the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness include addressing gaps in service, particularly to vulnerable populations, including indigenous peoples and those with mental illness, throughout our criminal justice system.
The government has also demonstrated a commitment to rehabilitation through the reopening of prison farms, which I can attest is happening in my riding. Prison farms provide prisoners meaningful work at farms at the end of their sentences. Farms teach inmates skills in various agricultural fields, such as heavy machinery operation, food handling and dairy operation. Even if inmates do not go on to a career in agriculture, practical skills and certifications earned through farms will apply for future jobs. In fact, data demonstrated that prison farms increased the likelihood of employability once inmates were released.
The government has shown a commitment to improving our correctional system by making rehabilitation possible again and by enhancing the safety of prison workers. This is a new, bold approach to federal corrections. It will protect the safety of staff and those in their custody by allowing offenders to be separated as required, while ensuring those offenders receive more effective rehabilitative programming as well as interventions and mental health support.
Under this bill, the practice of administrative segregation will become a thing of the past. The corrections system will have a new tool to manage inmates who pose a safety risk in the form of structured intervention units, or SIUs. Inmates in SIUs will have at least four hours a day outside their cells, instead of the two hours under the current segregation system. They will have a minimum of two hours of meaningful interaction with other people, including staff, volunteers, elders, chaplains and other compatible inmates. They will have access to structured interventions to address the underlying behaviour that led to their placement in the SIU. These will include programs in mental health care tailored to their needs.
Offenders may be placed in an SIU when there are reasonable grounds to believe they pose a risk to the safety of any persons, including themselves, or the security of the institution. An inmate's assignment to the SIU would be subject to a robust internal review process. By the fifth working day after movement to an SIU, the warden would determine if the inmate should remain there, taking into account factors such as the inmate's correctional plan and medical condition.
I forgot to mention at the beginning of my speech, Mr. Speaker, that I will be splitting my time with the member for Toronto—Danforth.
If an inmate remains in the SIU, subsequent reviews would happen after 30 days by the warden and every 30 days thereafter by the commissioner of corrections. Reviews could also be triggered by a medical professional at any time. In fact, strengthening health care is a big part of the legislation. In an SIU, inmates would be visited by a registered health professional at least once a day.
Bill C-83 also affirms that the Correctional Service has the obligation to support health care professionals and their autonomy and clinical independence. The bill provides for patient advocacy services to help ensure offenders receive the health care they need. Clearly, an offender in good physical and mental health is more likely to achieve successful rehabilitation.
The bill represents a giant leap forward for our corrections system. The proposals are proactive and sensible, with public and institutional safety at their core. We should all want to ensure that federal correctional institutions provide a safe and secure environment, one that is conducive to inmate rehabilitation, staff safety and the protection of the public.
Eliminating administrative segregation and creating SIUs represents a landmark shift in our approach to corrections. I look forward to continuing to work with the government, with colleagues in the chamber, and the many people who work within the corrections system to continue advancing the objective of enhancing safety and security through effective interventions and treatment.
As I have said, nearly 18,000 corrections workers and 6,000 volunteers across the country do a remarkable job in what are often very difficult circumstances and harsh environments. They deserve to carry out their work in a safe and more secure environment and they deserve to be better supported in their goal of better correctional outcomes.
On all fronts, Bill C-83 would answer those calls. I call on all members of the House to join me in supporting the bill.
View Luc Berthold Profile
View Luc Berthold Profile
2018-10-18 15:10 [p.22572]
Mr. Speaker, first, I want to mention that I look forward to hearing the speech of my colleague from Red Deer—Mountain View, with whom I will be sharing my time. In the meantime, he is the one who will be listening to what I have to say about Bill C-83. Hon. members will notice that our opinions are quite similar. That goes without saying.
I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-83, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another act.
It will make a few rather major changes since it will, among other things: eliminate the use of administrative segregation and disciplinary segregation; authorize the Commissioner to designate a penitentiary or an area in a penitentiary as a structured intervention unit for the confinement of inmates who cannot be maintained in the mainstream inmate population for security or other reasons; provide less invasive alternatives to physical body cavity searches; affirm that the Correctional Service of Canada has the obligation to support the autonomy and clinical independence of registered health care professionals.
It will make other amendments that I unfortunately do not have time to talk about. It is impossible to address every aspect of the bill in just 10 minutes. However, I will focus on a few aspects, including the government's desire to eliminate the use of administrative and disciplinary segregation. The government made that decision as a result of two cases that are currently before the courts. Although the government is appealing the rulings in those cases, it decided to legislate an extreme solution. It is recommending eliminating the use of administrative and disciplinary segregation to address an issue I believe could have been addressed differently. Unfortunately, like most of this government's initiatives, even if this bill passes, it is destined to fail. Doing away with administrative and disciplinary segregation will create a lot more problems in Canada's correctional facilities than it will solve.
To back up my prediction about how the government's plan to eliminate administrative segregation will end in failure, I would like to talk about some of the other ways this government has failed since it took office in 2015.
The government tried to resolve a number of issues, and every time it made those situations worse.
On the economic front, it raised taxes. It scared off billions of dollars' worth of investments by making Canada less attractive to foreign investors. Those billions have been invested elsewhere. On the border security front, everyone here knows that Quebec in particular is still grappling with an unacceptable situation. Thousands of asylum seekers have entered and continue to enter Canada illegally, yet the government has failed to find a solution, do something, or take action.
On international trade, there have been no new trade agreements with other trading partners anywhere in the world. The government has also jeopardized existing agreements. Who can forget the Prime Minister's failure to show up for a trans-Pacific partnership signing ceremony, thereby making Canada the laughingstock of the countries who were there at the appointed time?
What about the recent free trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada? Canada ended up with more tariffs than it had before. That is a first, and it is a dismal failure on the government's part.
On justice, the government refused to put Tori Stafford's murderer back behind bars. The government also allowed a cop killer who never served in the armed forces to keep receiving benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada. Every time we ask the government to do something about this, we get a vague, evasive response and nothing gets done.
No account of the Liberal government's failures would be complete without an account of its failure on the ethics front. This Prime Minister is the first Canadian leader ever found guilty of violating ethics laws. Four of his ministers have also been the subject of federal investigations over the last three years.
These failures have real consequences for Canadians. They have increased the cost of living, made Canadians less safe, and, by essentially slamming the door on foreign investment, as I said earlier, made it impossible for Canadians to do business and prosper. In addition, Canadians now have less confidence in the government, sadly.
I may have discovered why the Liberal government is having this problem. Digging through the archives and looking through books for some explanation of why a government would choose to fail on so many fronts, I found a book written a few years ago by Paul Watzlawick entitled Ultra-Solutions, or, How to Fail Most Successfully. I truly believe this book is on every Liberal's nightstand.
I will read a few comments from the postscript:
How to fail most successfully? It's simple. For each problem, just find the ultra-solution. What's the ultra-solution? “Such a solution not only does away with the problem, but also with just about everything else, somewhat in the vein of the old medical joke—Operation successful, patient dead”.
The problem with the Liberals is that they always find the ultra-solution. There was a cannabis problem, so they found the ultra-solution: they legalized it with total disregard for all the problems, all the dissenting opinions they heard from police forces, psychiatrists, and municipal and provincial officials. The ultra-solution was chosen to solve a very real problem in Canada. They decided that the ultra-solution was to legalize it across the board. We could apply this logic to every decision this government has made from the beginning.
Getting back to Bill C-83, yes, there are problems with segregation, as we have seen. There are problems with respect to the various groups or different communities, such as indigenous peoples, who are placed in segregation, for preventive purposes or for security. Rather than trying to come up with solutions to specific problems, the government chose the ultra-solution and decided to simply eliminate administrative segregation.
I have an article here dated September 28, 2017. It talks about Ivan Zinger, who was the correctional investigator of Canada and who conducted an investigation into segregation. To his great surprise, “[the] new strategy to limit prolonged segregation has had the unintended consequences of more violent attacks behind bars”. That is what he himself acknowledged. This is what is happening because, indeed, since 2014, the penitentiaries have tried to send fewer people to segregation.
According to the data compiled by Mr. Zinger, the number of inmates kept in segregation at any given point in the year has gone from 800 to fewer than 300 since 2014. However, over the same period, the number of assaults committed by inmates against other inmates spiked by 32%: there were 719 incidents last year versus 543 incidents in 2013-14. The number of incidents involving prison guards remained stable.
That is exactly what I am trying to explain and get across to the government By wanting to pass a bill seeking to eliminate the problem and everything that goes with it, the government is creating other problems that are sometimes worse than the ones they are trying to fix. That is why I cannot support Bill C-83.
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my excellent colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith, who will speak very eloquently on Bill C-83.
This is not how I meant to begin my speech, but since the parliamentary secretary has opened the door by saying he is open to suggestions, I have a very liberal idea to suggest. It is from a Liberal bill, Bill C-56, introduced by his own government, which would solve a lot more problems than Bill C-83 that is before us today.
This did not come from a small group of far-left extremists, but from his own government. Bill C-56 is full of good ideas, much better ideas than we see in Bill C-83, unfortunately. I suggest that he read his own bill, which is still in limbo somewhere in the House of Commons.
I, too, frequently met with correctional officers' unions back when I was still the NDP's labour critic. I share some of their concerns regarding their workload, as well as their health and safety at work. As I recall, they were particularly critical of the positions taken by the Conservative Party at the time, especially with regard to overcrowded prisons and the security problems associated with shared cells. I want them to know that we continue to support their demands for good working conditions.
I have also had the opportunity to visit a number of penitentiaries over the past two years at the invitation of a prisoners' rights advocacy group. Two years ago, I visited the Federal Training Centre in Laval, a medium-security penitentiary. More recently, I visited the Leclerc penitentiary, which is also in Laval, not far away. I also had the opportunity to meet inmates who moved from the Federal Training Centre in Laval to the Leclerc prison in the space of a year. They had made progress and were nearly eligible for parole.
Since we are talking about the prison system, it is important to demystify a few things and explain how it really works.
First, a medium-security prison is not an easy place to visit. Deprivation of liberty is an extremely serious thing. Ordinary citizens can hardly imagine being imprisoned in a cell. A lot of people think being in prison is easy, but the simple fact of spending months or years inside takes a toll. It truly is a punishment. In a moment, I will talk about the use of solitary confinement as a way to manage certain situations with prisoners. This kind of punishment can, in some cases, be considered cruel and abusive.
I have visited penitentiaries over the past two years and spoken with prisoners. They are extremely interested in politics, and I noticed that the environment is their top concern. They would ask me questions about the St. Lawrence, climate change, the future of beluga whales, and things like that. These people were going through a rehabilitation process and serving their time, and it was fascinating to see that they were keeping in touch with the rest of society. They asked all kinds of very relevant questions.
Recently, I also met with men from halfway houses run by the Association des services de réhabilitation sociale du Québec. These former inmates support men who have gone through the parole process and are participating in a program with services and therapies so they can rejoin civil society and our communities. These people do extraordinary work and do not accept just anyone. To be honest, 20% of the people in these halfway houses went back to prison because they were unable to stick to their program. They do not accept just anybody. Participants must be disciplined and follow the rules. They must explain their absences and always report their whereabouts.
Parolees who are in halfway house programs and return to the community have a 1% rate of recidivism. That is fascinating. That means that 99% of them will never end up in court or prison again, because the process worked.
I think that it is important for people to understand that when done properly and thoroughly, the process works. Often the most dangerous thing is when people serve their sentence in full. They have spent 25 years in prison. They have not taken part in any programs, been granted parole or received therapy. When they are released, it is true that they can represent a danger to society.
Those who are not dangerous are not the ones who have served their full sentence. It is the ones who are released early because they made an effort and are ready to resume their place in the workforce, among their family and friends.
I think the bill before us is Orwellian. In essence, two superior court rulings, from Ontario and British Columbia, ruled that the current legislation, which provides for administrative segregation in certain situations, was unconstitutional. There are two problems. First, there is no third-party independent observer to determine whether the use of administrative segregation was justified and whether prolonging it was also justified. That is the first problem.
Second, the average duration of administrative segregation is 24 days. That is a long time, and it takes a toll on inmates and their mental health.
Unfortunately, the bill we are debating today does nothing to address the concerns raised by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice or the Supreme Court of British Columbia. I think it is worth pointing out that one of those two courts stated clearly that prolonged segregation can be considered cruel punishment if it is used abusively. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice declared that administrative segregation lasting longer than two days can have negative and sometimes permanent effects on mental health.
People can suffer permanent mental health effects if they are in administrative segregation for more than two days. The current average is 24 days. According to the United Nations, administrative segregation lasting longer than 15 days may be considered torture. The average is 24 days. Does the Liberal government's bill cap the number of days? No. There is no limit.
The first clause of the bill is absolutely fascinating. It proudly states that administrative segregation will be eliminated. The government is going to listen to the Ontario court and the B.C. court and put an end to this practice.
In the second clause, we see that it is now called a structured intervention unit. That is exactly the same thing. They changed the term “administrative segregation” to “structured intervention unit”, which is still segregation, which still has the same effect on the inmate, which is still a form of punishment that can be abusive and cruel and can exacerbate mental health problems, and which, beyond 15 days, can be seen by the United Nations as a form of torture. Structured intervention units can be any area designated as such by the Correctional Service of Canada.
The structured intervention unit can be the entire penitentiary, an area in the penitentiary, or certain cells designated as such. I suspect that the administrative segregation cells will now be called structured intervention units. They are exactly the same areas. The Liberal government is absolutely not satisfying the courts' demands. There is also no independent body to verify whether any of this is being done in compliance with the standards and rules. There is no difference in the planned or possible duration of this segregation for these inmates.
The only difference is that we are going from a maximum of 22 or 23 hours a day to a maximum of 20 hours. That is all. That does not change the inmate's reality very much. Again, it should be noted that a consequence of this is that the release time could be 3 a.m., and the inmate might be asked to go outside when it is -25 degrees Celsius out. In fact, this often does not even exist.
I hope that the Liberal government will listen to reason this time.
View Dane Lloyd Profile
View Dane Lloyd Profile
2018-10-18 17:09 [p.22588]
Mr. Speaker, it is a great opportunity to stand again. I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix.
I am rising to speak to Bill C-83, the flawed reforms to our correctional system the Liberals are trying to push through. This issue is very important to me because of the hundreds of correctional staff who call my riding home and who rightfully expect me to stand up for their safety and best interests.
The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers told me at meetings that the government did not bother to consult front-line correctional officers on these reforms. These people put their lives in harm's way every day to ensure that the most dangerous and violent offenders do not harm the innocent. These courageous men and women, at the end of the day, should be able to go home safely, and we must consider how these changes will affect their safety in the workplace.
Recently I had the opportunity to meet with the union representatives who interact with these criminals. These people have first-hand knowledge and experience of what is happening in the system. These are the people we should be looking to for solutions. They are very concerned about this legislation and many other policies the Liberal government is bringing forward with regard to correctional reform. These concerns involve the safety of correctional officers. They believe that the government is ignoring them and running over them with legislation that would grant extraordinary new privileges to prisoners at the expense of public safety and rehabilitation.
One of the main problems is the policy of administrative segregation. This policy is used to separate dangerous, violent offenders who are threats to the safety of fellow inmates and staff. Administrative segregation is a means to both protect and punish. It acts as a deterrent to committing violence against staff and inmates. Some cases brought to me by correctional staff have included inmates telling each other that it is not a big deal to assault a corrections officer, because they will only get five days. This is exactly the kind of thing we need to deter.
I wonder why the Liberals are reducing punishments for inmates who assault staff and make the workplace dangerous for those who serve in this risky environment.
Let us be clear. We are not talking about an oppressive system like that outlined by the United Nations. We are not even talking about how prisons operated in decades past. Canadians, when they think of administrative segregation, might conjure up images from movies such as The Shawshank Redemption, where corrupt wardens can place inmates in solitary confinement, in darkness, with no amenities or opportunities for meaningful human contact. That is simply not the case.
Although there have been mistakes in the past, several government members today have noted that the CSC has taken great strides in recent years to improve administrative segregation.
Administrative segregation is restrictive, but we are not talking about Club Med resorts. We are talking about prison. Inmates in administrative segregation have the right to exercise and leave their cells for an hour each day. These cells are lit, not dark. Prisoners have access to services to better themselves. If one listened to some groups, one would believe that these inmates were being thrown into a hole and forgotten about, and that is simply not the case.
It is clear from several high-profile cases that administrative segregation cannot be used as a replacement for effective psychological health services in the prison system. I know that Correctional Service Canada has taken many positive steps in recent years to integrate recommendations to ensure that past poor practices are reformed.
Many of those suffering from mental health challenges have been administratively segregated, and the consequences to their health and the overall outcomes for rehabilitation have not been positive. No one wants to see anyone fall through the cracks, and ensuring that services are available to those who need mental health services is absolutely critical, but this does not mean that we have to get rid of administrative segregation. It means that we need new tools to address these issues. Reforming administrative segregation needs to involve an assessment of risk and needs to seek the improvement of rehabilitation and mental health outcomes.
I am sure we could all agree that people who find themselves in the prison system are troubled individuals, but that does not mean that all criminals suffer from mental health issues. Abolishing administrative segregation as a practice would take an essential tool away from front-line personnel for protecting themselves and the inmates. In that sense, although these new secure intervention units may hold some promise, there is no reason they could not operate alongside an effective and responsibly used system of administrative segregation.
Those who do not suffer from mental health issues and who choose to assault other inmates or staff should not be rewarded with the secure intervention units. In fact, the union representing correctional officers is asking that these tools be maintained. The government is ignoring the wisdom of front-line personnel who put their safety on the line every day.
The Liberals' action to move full steam ahead in abolishing administrative segregation is a concerning move, but they are also introducing other means for threatening staff and other inmates by condoning drug use and needles in prisons.
Most Canadians would be shocked to hear that the Liberals are pushing forward with a policy to provide needles to prisoners so that they can self-administer harmful drugs. Not only is this counter-productive for the rehabilitation of prisoners, it is a threat to the security and safety of prison staff.
Violent incidents are not uncommon in a correctional environment, and handing out needles to prisoners can be akin to handing out weapons. Vulnerable inmates, guards and other staff will now live in a state of new fear that these potent tools could be used against them, possibly even lethally.
Most Canadians would also be shocked to learn that the Liberals even intend to provide cooking spoons. These are not my words. It is what the union of correctional officers is telling me. Prisoners will be able to cook and produce their own drugs so that they can self-inject. This policy is seriously ill-informed, because as I have been told, lighters have been banned from prisons, because they have been used to start fires in the past. How are they even supposed to cook the drugs with these cooking spoons if they are not even allowed to have lighters?
The Liberals are rolling back best practices that have been learned from experience by our front-line personnel and implemented. The government is rolling back these best practices and putting people at risk. This does not make sense.
Many look to Europe for an example for Canada to follow, but the government is selectively choosing which European policies to adopt while ignoring how the overall system works. Yes, needles are used in some European prisons, but there is no European country where needles are provided in all prisons. The eventual agenda of the Liberal government seems to be that all prisons, regardless of security classification, should have access to needles.
In Europe, administrative segregation is used in the case of an assault on a police officer. It changes from country to country. This is not seen as a viable option for the future for the government. Why is it not being maintained here?
I just wonder what policy objective the Liberals intend to achieve through prisoners receiving needles. Do the Liberals want to protect prisoners from infectious diseases? Correctional staff have informed me, and I have seen the statistics on this, that over the past 10 years, the rate of infectious diseases, such as HIV, have been reduced drastically. I think 50% was the model. I do not see how introducing new needles would decrease the likelihood that dirty needles will be used. This permissive approach to this abuse is likely to cause more of the same problem the Liberals are looking to get rid of.
When actions are brought before the courts, it seems that the policy of the Liberal government is always to cave in and run. Some courts have ruled that the widespread use of administrative segregation is a violation of prisoners' charter rights. It is clear that in the cases cited earlier, oversight was the issue and the indefinite period of time was the issue. That does not mean that administrative segregation in and of itself is a flawed concept.
We have charter rights, but when people go to jail, they give up some of those rights. They are not absolute. The right to liberty is an example. We have to draw a line. What about the safety of our correctional staff? Where is their right to safety in the workplace?
Correctional staff have every right to expect that the government will ensure that they have a safe working environment. This legislation, combined with allowing needles in prisons, would endanger the safety of correctional staff.
It is time for the Liberals to take a stand, uphold the will of the people and the will of those who serve on the front lines and stop taking away the tools they need to do their jobs.
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