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Results: 1 - 15 of 16
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-06-19 22:41 [p.29451]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join my partner from Battle River—Crowfoot in speaking to Bill C-83. I have stood in the House a number of times to speak to it, and I was on the committee that studied Bill C-83, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another act.
This has been a bad bill right from the beginning. The Liberals did not listen to very many people. They wrote the bill, brought it before committee and forced it upon it, as they are doing today, forcing us in the second-to-last day Parliament is sitting to speak to the amendments that have been brought in by the Senate. The Liberals do not like the amendments, but they want to push this through.
From the beginning, when we started studying Bill C-83 at committee, a number of witnesses came forward. The John Howard Society said it was bad. The Elizabeth Fry Society said it was bad. We had a 19-year prisoner who admitted to being a pretty bad guy, and he said parts of the bill were bad. He was the type of person who needed to be put into a segregation unit to protect the guards and other prisoners, and even himself. The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association said it was a bad bill. The Native Women's Association said it was a bad bill. There were a number of organizations.
Now we have it brought before us, as I said, on the second-to-last day before the House rises for the summer.
My friend from Battle River—Crowfoot just mentioned the corrections union and that his union was not spoken to. Very much like the institution in his riding at Drumheller, which is medium-security, I have a medium-security facility in the town of Grande Cache, in the great riding of Yellowhead. It is probably one of the most beautiful jail settings in North America. It is on top of a mountain overlooking the Rocky Mountains. There are a large number of aboriginal prisoners there.
I know some of the guards there very well; some of them went to school with my daughter years ago. They are very concerned that they were not consulted properly and that Bill C-83, if enacted the way it is, will make it dangerous for the guards. That is totally unacceptable.
The change would make prisoners more dangerous for the guards, as they will have to deal with the worst of the worst and the most volatile being out and about from their cells for four hours a day.
I totally agree that things need to change and we need to be civil and human in how we treat prisoners. Many years ago, I had the privilege to be on what the RCMP called provost duty. I escorted prisoners throughout British Columbia and western Canada back and forth from remand centres and detachments to prisons, etc. I came to know many of these individuals on a personal basis and many times I travelled 200 or 300 miles with three prisoners by myself.
One could be a real dick and those guys would hate it by the time they got to the destination, or one could be a decent individual, have a conversation with them, treat them decently, with respect and dignity, and have a 200- or 300-mile drive with three prisoners.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-06-19 22:46 [p.29452]
Mr. Speaker, it is my last speech, and I do apologize. It was just the terminology that slipped out.
Years ago we learned that we had to give respect to the prisoners. They had to be treated properly. That is no different today. I realize that Bill C-83 is trying to do that in a number of areas. As our colleagues in the Senate have said, there are some things that need to be corrected. I hate to say it, but the Liberals are not listening again.
My primary purpose in getting up today is to say that the women and men who work in our institutions do a great job for our country. They are a fantastic group of people. In many cases, maybe even more than police officers who are out on the street or our military who might be defending some country somewhere, these guys are right on the front lines.
A lot of our prisoners are everyday common people. We do not need to worry too much about them. They are civil. We can have great conversations with them. We can joke around with them. However, we do have some real bad apples there. Some have mental health problems. Some are just downright mean. Some can be rehabilitated. Some, and I am going back to 50 years of experience, cannot be rehabilitated or do not want to be rehabilitated, and that is where the problem comes with segregation.
I know that the Supreme Court has ruled that we need to change our policies. We need to give prisoners more rights, but that will come at a cost to the country. I guess we will have to accept that, because that is what it has ruled.
However, the primary thing is that I want my friends and my constituents who work at Grande Cache Institution to be safe. I want the average prisoner who is there, who maybe was picked up for impaired driving or maybe something minor, who is not really a bad person, to be very safe in our institutions. That is my primary concern.
My colleagues across have been given a number of recommendations from the Senate that I think need to be addressed and cannot be ignored. I did not pick up on all of them, and I am not going to deal with all of them. However there is one I thought I would spend a little time talking about.
The Senate said that the authority should be left with the institutions as to the movement of a prisoner to a provincial institution. That is only rational, good, common sense. I am not knocking professional health people. They do a great job for us, but we have some great con artists in our jails who could sweet talk the Speaker into letting them sit up there while the Speaker took their place. That is how good they are. I know that the Speaker would never be conned. However, that is where my fear comes in. The institution staff know these people. They are dealing with them 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They know how slick the prisoners can be.
A medical professional coming in, maybe for an hour or two or maybe three hours a week, could be baffled. That is why I think it was a very wise decision that came back from the Senate. It was a common-sense correction, yet it is being ignored.
I appreciate being given the time to stand up here to defend the institutional guards at Grande Cache and others across the country. They are doing a great job for us.
Get rid of the needles. I am not going any further with that. It is the biggest mistake we ever made.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-06-19 22:53 [p.29453]
Mr. Speaker, I hate to rush anything unless it is correct. The Senate has studied this bill, as has the committee, and we have heard from many witnesses. If we just bring it forward because we are threatened by the possibility that the courts might take action, we should have thought of that right off the bat and got at it a little more quickly than we did. We are here on the last day.
Again, the issue goes back to the safety of the people. Yes, I agree with a psychiatric review when a person comes in, but if we bring these measures forward, is that going to make it very difficult to correct them afterward, and is it going to put a guard's safety in jeopardy in the next month or two before we come back to help correct it in the fall?
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-06-19 22:55 [p.29453]
Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely correct. None of the witnesses really agreed with this bill. We were given this bill as written by the senior management of Canada's institutional system, but with no consultation with the unions or stakeholders. The committee was to get it through as fast as possible and get it passed. The Senate saw the mistakes. We could see the mistakes. The witnesses could see the mistakes.
We are going to make a bigger mistake if we go and vote for it with the errors or with the Senate submissions being omitted.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-02-21 15:58 [p.25644]
Mr. Speaker, as a member of the public safety committee, I was quite surprised by the number of problems we had with this bill initially. Witnesses appearing at committee regarding the bill said that they had not been consulted. Even the correctional investigator of Canada told the public safety committee that all the consultations seemed to have been done internally. To his knowledge, there had been no consultation with external stakeholders. He said, “I think that's why you end up with something that is perhaps not fully thought out.” If members were to look at all the amendments put forward, they would understand what he said.
For the Liberal Party, which purported to put consultation on a pedestal, this seems very strange. The Liberals did not consult with the unions, the victims, the prisoners or the prisoner advocates. Could the member opposite tell me exactly who they consulted?
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-02-21 16:16 [p.25646]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his speech and his work with us at committee.
Could the member tell us his concerns for the safety of correctional officers and other inmates because of the removal of disciplinary segregation and the introduction of a needle exchange program in many institutions?
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-02-21 16:33 [p.25648]
Mr. Speaker, I am here today to speak to Bill C-83, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another act.
A lot of people do not realize that on any given day in Canada we have roughly 40,000 plus prisoners in custody. They are in eight maximum-security facilities, 19 medium-security facilities, 15 minimum and 10 multidisciplinary type facilities. We have 18,000 Canadian government employees looking after these prisoners, of which 10,000 are on the front line. They are either correctional officers, parole officers or health care workers.
I want to personally thank them here today for the service they do in our correctional services from coast to coast to coast. I have a facility in my community, as does the gentleman beside me. We know the problems they go through on a day-to-day basis and the great service they give our country.
This was and is a bad bill. Even worse, this is ill-thought-out legislation. It is a lot worse than the cannabis bill. Simply, Bill C-83 was a knee-jerk reaction to two Supreme Court rulings in February of 2018, regarding the clarity on indefinite solitary confinement. Bill C-83 does not correct this; it just rewords it and disguises it in flowery words.
No longer is it called solitary confinement. It has been renamed “structural intervention unit”. It sounds nice. The heads of the institutions will be allowed to designate any area of a jail to be that. Why do we need that? Structural intervention units are needed for unmanageable prisoners and those who are dangerous to staff, inmates or themselves. Perhaps they are being held for an investigation. Perhaps it is an attempted murder within the facility and he or she has to be segregated. There is a need, and there are reasons why people are held in these types of lock-ups in these facilities.
A 19-year prisoner appeared before the public safety committee. He was pretty intimidating when he first came in there, but the man talked with a lot of sense. He was originally sentenced for 14 years, but he was so bad he got an additional five years, of which a lot was in solitary confinement. He said that they were a must, that we should not get rid of them. Many more witnesses came before the public safety committee, even the Minister of Public Safety.
Again, I am going to say this is a bad bill. Every group of witnesses or individuals who appeared said that it was a bad bill. These are not my words. It was the witnesses who said that, except for the minister and his ministerial staff who said that it was such a great bill. How many amendments were read by the Speaker today?
The Elizabeth Fry Society said it was a bad bill. It said that structural intervention units were not needed, that it failed to focus on the programs and that there was lack of oversight. It is concerned about section 81, due to the workings of indigenous governing bodies.
The John Howard Society calls it a bad bill. It wanted to know what was the difference between solitary confinement and structural intervention. It said there was no difference, that the bill changed the words, but it did little to change anything.
Those are their words, not mine.
Increasing two hours outside the prison cells to four hours does little to help the prisons. There is a lack of infrastructure, physical and human resources. The bill does not address the need.
I will go back to the 19-year prisoner. He admitted to being a bad boy. He spent a very long time in solitary confinement. He said that he needed to be there, as he was dangerous. He felt these units were needed to protect guards, prisoners and even people like himself. However, he stated that prisoners must be helped with programs, counselling, etc., and that this was not happening within the institution. What he really stressed was that there was no one looking after the prisoners once they were released. They are just dumped out into society. He said that continued help needed to be there to rehabilitate the prisoners.
The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association says that it is a bad bill and it cannot support it. It said the bill lacks external oversight, lacks programs that are needed to assist prisoners to reform, and lacks sufficient resources and manpower for social and educational needs, health professionals, etc.
The Native Women's Association of Canada says it is a bad bill. The association was not consulted. It says the bill does not address traditions, protocol, or cultural practices, and does not clarify indigenous communities.
The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers also says it is a bad bill, that it is not feasible and leaves prisoners and guards vulnerable. That is where my concern is, with prisoners and guards, especially the guards, being vulnerable.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association says it is a bad bill. It says it is not a meaningful reform and should be repealed. It said there was no consultation, and we have heard that many times here.
Aboriginal Legal Services says it is a bad bill, and that there is a big gap between the rhetoric and reality.
When we were gathering evidence on some of the costs related to prisoners, the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, who is also on committee with me, was told by a witness that the cost of keeping a female prisoner in a structured living condition was $533,000 a year. He was shocked. Then he was told that the cost for males in structured living conditions was between $300,000 and $600,000 a year.
When he heard that, he asked me for an aspirin. I did not have one; I just told him he would have to cope.
I am just about done. The Parliamentary Budget Officer said in the 2016-17 report that the cost of an average prisoner is $314 a day or $115,000 a year. If a prisoner is segregated, the average cost is $463,000 plus per year. That is $1,260 a day to keep a person in segregation.
Bill C-83 will cost way more than the Liberals are talking about. When the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner asked the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness what the cost would be to implement this bill, the minister replied that he had no idea. He said he had no clue, but we should trust the Liberals because they would work it out. He wanted us to just pass the bill as it was.
I have heard from a number of speakers opposite today that $400-some million is being thrown at this program to make structural modifications at our prisons and to improve the health care facilities, but I have not heard anyone from across this great room say there was any money going to hire additional staff, or to improve staff resources or staff training. Nothing. There was nothing that came from the parliamentary secretary; nothing came from anybody.
We heard the Liberals were going to fix the buildings, but I have talked to a number of the prisons around Alberta, and they have not even been asked about what needs to be done. The guards and unions have not been spoken to.
We are supposed to trust the Liberals. I think they said they are putting $448 million into this, but what about increasing staff? We know it is going to cost more to do it. We know it is going to cost more in manpower to operate these new units, especially if we are going to move them around to different spots in the prisons.
There is nothing in the Liberal plan or budget to account for that.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-02-21 16:43 [p.25650]
Mr. Speaker, it all boils down to consultation. Every witness other than the minister and his staff said there was no external consultation. We cannot be expected to know what it is going to cost to renovate the institution in my area unless we talk to people on the ground.
We can even look at this building. I do not know if it is the same on the other side of the House, but on this side there is a closet where I can hang my coat. On either side of that closet, there are three feet in which I cannot put anything because I cannot get to it.
Consulting and working with people on the ground makes a big difference. I still have not heard anything mentioned by anyone on the other side about any money going for labour resources or training or education, which is what they are asking for. They are begging for that.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-02-21 16:45 [p.25650]
Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely right. Is segregation going to help them? No. We need to look at this medically. We need to look at training our staff members to understand what the inmates are going through. They need to know. To put an inmate into a locked cell and let the guy walk an eight-by-eleven foot cell all day long does not help his mentality. He needs to be taken to a medical facility, or we need to have fully trained medical people on site. We do not have that at the present time.
No, it will not help them. We need to address their concerns.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-02-21 16:47 [p.25650]
Mr. Speaker, based on my conversations with prison guards who work in my area and in other parts of Alberta, they were not consulted. They are frustrated, because they want to have the tools to provide a great service for this country and for the prisoners they are looking after.
The guards are concerned about their own safety and about the safety of the prisoners. They are concerned about their health care, but they are not getting enough training. I talked to a young guard who said he was there two weeks and was put on the segregation unit because it was short-staffed. He said he was very uncomfortable, and I think he was right to be.
We need resources to help train these people if we are going to add a whole new set of burdens to the prison reform system.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-02-21 17:16 [p.25654]
Mr. Speaker, I have heard from prison guards who work at the Grande Cache Institution in my area about the lack of training and the need for more training, especially in health care and dealing with people with mental health situations. I wonder if the member would like to comment on that need.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2019-02-21 17:27 [p.25656]
Madam Speaker, the member has a prison facility in his area. He mentioned during his speech that he has toured the facility, has seen the good and bad parts of it and has talked to the guards and the prisoners, just as I did with the institution in Grande Cache. That institution is quite a beautiful one. It is located on top of a mountain. It has about 350 employees and 300 prisoners.
However, these are older facilities and I do not believe the government of the day has taken into consideration that some of the changes that will be required regarding health care, scanning facilities and the like just cannot be done with some of the older buildings. It was tried with that one and it required a lot of modification. I do not believe the Liberals have put enough money into the budget. Does the member care to provide his thoughts on that?
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2018-10-19 10:31 [p.22607]
Mr. Speaker, I am speaking to Bill C-83 because I am concerned that the changes it would make may put in jeopardy the safety of our institutional staff and that of the inmates who are under our care and control.
I was confused when the government introduced the bill.
In February of this year, the government appealed a ruling by the B.C. Supreme Court that struck down Canada's law on indefinite solitary confinement, arguing that it needed clarity on the decision. Therefore, why is the government introducing legislation before receiving that clarity? Why are the Liberals fighting the court decision to strike down solitary confinement, while at the same time introducing legislation to do just that? Are they just changing the words and calling it a structural intervention unit?
I have a federal prison in my riding of Yellowhead, the Grande Cache Institution. It is a medium-security institution with approximately 300 employees and 240 offenders. I have a lot of respect for my constituents who work there. Working for Correctional Service Canada often means working with violent offenders. Proposed section 36 of the new act will deal with the obligations of service and the rights of prisoners in structural intervention areas. It states:
...The Service shall provide an inmate in a structured intervention unit
(a) an opportunity to spend a minimum of four hours a day outside the inmate’s cell; and
(b) an opportunity to interact, for a minimum of two hours a day, with others, through activities including, but not limited to,
(i) programs, interventions and services...
(ii) leisure time.
Proposed section 37 of the new act states that proposed section 36 does not apply if the inmate refuses or the inmate “does not comply with...instructions to ensure their safety or that of any other person or the security of the penitentiary.”
As part of their job, employees are responsible for providing a safe, secure and positive environment for offenders, which is an essential element in helping offenders reintegrate into society. However, is the government fostering a safe and secure environment for our prison guards to work within these institutions?
Solitary confinement is a common safety measure many western countries take to protect guards from dangerous and volatile prisoners. I wonder if any of our front-line workers have been consulted on taking this tool away from them. Are we properly training our guards who deal with the most dangerous of offenders, offenders with possible mental conditions and psychological problems? Are these guards being given the necessary tools and knowledge to recognize, work with, protect and, for their own safety, help reintegrate these prisoners?
I am concerned that the bill does not mention new training programs to assist prison guards in these changes or in the current programs. It is paramount that the guards dealing with the most dangerous of our offenders have the knowledge and expertise to deal with them. This is for everyone's protection and safety.
I have heard concerns from prison staff members that more training should be given to them when they are dealing with high-risk offenders, such as murderers, compared to someone serving six months for theft. We need to ensure they feel prepared and comfortable, instead of taking away the tools they use to manage inmates.
Instead of solitary confinement, the government would create structural intervention units, SIUs. Let us be fair: This is just white-washing with some finely tuned words.
Under the new SIU model, inmates who misbehave and cannot be safely managed in the mainstream population will get personal programs tailored to their own needs. Are we forgetting the protection and safety of other inmates and prison staff in order to meet the new guidelines as outlined under the SIU? The segregation of certain prisoners in some cases has been done to protect those persons from internal conflicts with other inmates because of their character or mental disposition. In other cases, it is done for legal reasons that could cause interference with an investigation that could lead to criminal charges or a charge relating to serious disciplinary offences within the institution.
Under the new act, prisoners segregated for their own safety may spend up to four hours outside their cells each day. This is where I am concerned. This will require more resources and will create longer periods for the chance of an incident to occur. The replacement of solitary confinement strips the ability of guards to use segregation for disciplinary purposes. This change will make prisons more dangerous for the guards as they deal with the worst and most volatile prisoners.
Because the guards are dealing with the most violent criminals and those who do not care to follow the prison rules, when an incident does occur, it is going to be a lot more serious and require more force. Why are we putting our front line workers at risk?
I am also concerned that these prisoners who are segregated for their own safety may demand equal opportunities under the new act. This may open up an opportunity for their safety to be jeopardized and also put the safety of our guards in question.
This is just another example of the Liberals going soft on criminals and showing indifference to everyone else. Once again, the Liberals are prioritizing the rights of Canada's most violent and dangerous criminals.
Let me remind everyone of Bill C-75, which proposes sweeping changes to the Criminal Code and reduces the penalties of crimes to fines. Through Bill C-75, the Liberals are reducing penalties for terrorism, gang members, prison breaches, human trafficking, and the list goes on and on. It is not a surprise to me that the Liberal government is now prioritizing the rights of convicted and violent criminals inside our prison system.
Another aspect of the bill that I find deeply concerning is the new provision that would allow the commissioner to sub-designate parts of institutions to be a different level of security. It reads:
The Commissioner may assign the security classification of “minimum security”, “medium security”, “maximum security” or “multi-level security”, or any other prescribed security classification, to each penitentiary or to any area in a penitentiary.
Theoretically, could the commissioner authorize that a room, say in a healing lodge, to be designated as maximum or medium security by adding an extra lock on the door? There needs to be clarification on whether this is to be used as a temporary measure or if this is a declaration that can be made indefinitely of an area. If so, what is the security protocol that would be put in place to change an “area” to a higher designation than the rest of the facility? Under what circumstances would it be used?
This provision will lead to more cases where higher security prisoners are allowed into lower security spaces, all based on technicalities. Why are we allowing prisoners who should be in maximum or medium-security facilities into lower designated facilities?
I agree with one part of the bill, and that is body scanners. Already in use in the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario, body scanners should be used to scan prisoners in federal institutions. The more effective we can be in our searches, the better. That means fewer drugs, weapons and other contraband entering our prison systems.
I wonder why the government decided to stop there, though. Why only scan prisoners? In 2014, the CBC broadcast an article on the statistics of contraband entering prisons. The data obtained by CBC showed that corrections seized almost 9,000 unauthorized and contraband items, up almost 2,000 from a few years earlier. That was an increase of 20%. The article noted:
CSC spokesman Jonathan Schofield said the spike is due to enhanced security measures brought in to stem the flow of drugs and other contraband into institutions, including increased searches, random urine tests, and tools such as metal detectors, X-rays, drug-detecting ion scanners and dogs.
Howard Sapers, the former correctional investigator of Canada, said that likely sources of contraband included other people coming in to the prison and sometimes even trusted personnel.
Maybe we should be using body scanners to scan everyone, not just the prisoners, entering our institutions. This will help ensure that everyone inside the institution, prisoners, staff and visitors, all have a safe and secure environment in which to live and work. There are different types of body scanners, some detect drugs, others detect metal. We use them in our airports, and there is no reason we cannot use the most sophisticated equipment in our jail system.
I am not in favour of the recently announced needle exchange program and a good scanning system would eliminate the need for such a program.
We must remember that any legislation brought in that changes how we manage our prisons must take into consideration the safety of our government employees and the safety of other inmates within our institutions. This to me is paramount over catering to the needs of convicted criminals. We must remember they are there because they have committed crimes and are being punished for those crimes. Yes, they have rights to a certain extent, but our institutions are not summer camps or recreational retreats.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2018-10-19 10:42 [p.22608]
Mr. Speaker, I never said I disagreed with providing mental health supports. I said that we need to spend more time and more resources training our personnel at the jails. I clearly stated this a number of times in my comments. Jail guards are concerned that they are not receiving the proper training to deal with people with different mental situations, different stress situations and different violent tendencies. We need to ensure that our guards have the best training so that they understand the situations they are being put into so they can keep themselves and the prisoners safe.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2018-10-19 10:43 [p.22609]
Mr. Speaker, I do not see anything in the bill about extra training or education for either the prisoners or the guards. My concern at the present time is the safety of the guards and prisoners in our institutions. The member can talk about programs for them, and those are good. We need to interact with and get prisoners back into civilization as law-abiding citizens, but it is the safety of our guards that I am concerned about and their proper training. There is no mention of that in Bill C-83.
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