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Results: 1 - 15 of 13778
View Tracy Gray Profile
CPC (BC)
View Tracy Gray Profile
2020-08-14 15:37
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Thank you, Madam Chair.
I have a question that I'd like to pose to all of our witnesses here today. I've heard from a number of students in my riding about the issue of mental health and socialization, and how learning from home and being away from the classroom environment with their peers, as well as reduced extracurricular activities, may affect their ability to succeed. What steps have all the witnesses here today undertaken with their respective institutions to help students with their mental health and social connections, both during this pandemic and moving forward?
We'll start with Ms. Fusaro.
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Magda Fusaro
View Magda Fusaro Profile
Magda Fusaro
2020-08-14 15:38
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That's a great question. We've actually stepped up our efforts by holding virtual coffee breaks and meetings, as well as offering mentorship, tutoring and assistantship. We've made it easier for students to take advantage of all the available supports, whether through their teachers or colleagues in various groups.
That wasn't enough, though, because what students needed most was mental health support. In other words, the number of requests for psychological counselling literally went through the roof in March, April and May. We've focused the bulk of our efforts, initially, on expanding remote access to services, with sessions being conducted that way.
In addition, as you know, we had to respond in real time, so we were constantly monitoring the situation to make appropriate services available. We then offered integrated options. That's the direction we'll be heading in come the fall, incorporating a bit of classroom learning. I say “a bit” because Montreal is, after all, closed off, with a lot more cases than other parts of the province. We're proceeding very carefully so as not to cause another outbreak, of course.
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Matt Ratto
View Matt Ratto Profile
Matt Ratto
2020-08-14 15:39
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My responsibilities are fewer, I think, than those of many of the folks here, who are obviously responsible for many more students. Within my own faculty and within the bachelor's degree program that I ran up until recently, we focused on reaching out individually to most of the students. I run a primarily graduate faculty. Our undergraduate cohort is very small; we only had 15 students this year. It was the first year. We were somewhat insulated from these overall problems.
We did find, though, that in fact the mental health issues that many of the students faced were somehow related to real-world issues. A major one that we encountered was a concern about their plans for work-integrated learning. We doubled down on our focus and resources associated with work-integrated learning and made sure that all of our students had opportunities for co-ops and other forums that really would help them. We found that those kinds of real-world things solved more problems than just addressing the mental issues themselves.
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Ed McCauley
View Ed McCauley Profile
Ed McCauley
2020-08-14 15:41
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Yes, like my colleagues, we ramped up significantly right away the mental health supports, not only for our domestic students but also for the international students we had. We still have about 500 international students who decided to stay and maintain residence to complete their studies, so we wanted to make sure they had the services necessary.
What I've been most impressed with is how our students themselves, our undergraduates and our graduate students, have self-organized groups, including Zoom dances, Zoom plays and things like that. We've been trying to make sure that they have the resources to connect and to help one another.
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View Doug Shipley Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'll direct this to either chief. Perhaps both would like to weigh in on this. Some police agencies have identified that a full 20% to 30% of the calls for service are mental health calls, often not criminal in nature. I'd like you to comment on this. How is this affecting your services in terms of resources, and what solutions do you have to avoid violent conclusions to a lot of these calls?
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Nishan Duraiappah
View Nishan Duraiappah Profile
Nishan Duraiappah
2020-08-14 12:59
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Chief Larkin, I'll take a quick run at this and pass it on to you.
You're absolutely right. I need to clarify that quite often what we see is that mental health calls for service are interwoven with other social disorders or criminal activity, so they are sort of inherent in relation to other dominant calls for service. They represent, for me in a four-year period, a 30% increase. As I mentioned to you, we have 18 mental health apprehensions a day, on average, here in Peel Region.
What we have seen is an increase, and we've talked about the policy changes from the 1990s, which saw a lot of psychiatric facilities close. We've seen the saturation of mental health crisis in the community.
Policing institutions have been, for quite some time, seeking progressive opportunities. We have crisis outreach officers, plainclothes officers with mental health professionals and also uniformed officers with crisis response individuals. This exists pretty much right across the GTA, if not the province, with even pre-charge mental health programming and training with crisis negotiators. There are a variety of initiatives, but what you can see in this whole scenario, Mr. Shipley, is that it's still the police trying to find a way to insert mental health crisis response within our paradigm.
Instead of dispatching an officer to a crisis call, the idea—and I know it's being piloted in other mechanisms—is to look at how, at a previous point of triage, before it even gets to our doorstep, we can get it to the appropriate service, such as a crisis worker in the 911 communications centre, and divert it to an alternate service delivery. As you both know, agencies such as CMHA and our not-for-profits are also asking for more resourcing, since they are underserviced.
Chief Larkin, perhaps you have something to add.
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Bryan Larkin
View Bryan Larkin Profile
Bryan Larkin
2020-08-14 13:01
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Certainly. Thanks, MP Shipley.
We would concur that there's an opportunity for this committee to recommend a larger dialogue and discussion with CMHA and our mental health partners. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has had a long-standing partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association, but we can look to a new opportunity and a new framework for how we triage mental health in our communities: How do they come into our 911 system? What role do paramedics and/or mental health agencies play?
There's a whole opportunity for us, similar to the policy that we, the Canadian chiefs, released last month around diverting even simple possession of drugs. We're criminalizing addictions. We're criminalizing homelessness. We're criminalizing many issues that should be diverted elsewhere within a public health-led model.
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View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Chair. I'm going to split my time with my colleague from Scarborough—Rouge Park.
“Chief Nish” has a nice sound to it. I haven't actually had a chance to personally congratulate you, so congrats on your move to Peel.
I wonder if you could talk a little bit about the crisis response team. You had experience with that for a number of years in Halton. I know you're bringing it to Peel. Can you explain the model? I understand it gets funding, both from police as well as provincially from health, to send an officer along with a nurse or a mental health professional to calls. Have you seen success with that? Is that something that could be expanded to the RCMP, for example, and other police services?
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Nishan Duraiappah
View Nishan Duraiappah Profile
Nishan Duraiappah
2020-08-14 13:03
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The model of a crisis response, where there's a uniformed officer and a crisis professional, is absolutely a successful model. Every municipality that has employed it has seen upwards of 50% of their mental health apprehensions averted. The reason is that, if you send two officers, their only tool available is to transport the individual to a hospital. If you send a crisis worker or mental health professional, they have the ability to not only diagnose but speak the language, discern who's an appropriate person to go to an emergency room and/or even directly connect that individual to services. What you end up having is the right people at the right time in the emergency room and more people getting a direct connection to services. In fact, they have a better ability to understand the nuances of people's behaviour and to de-escalate them.
The model itself is remarkable. However, I would say that every police agency in Ontario almost self-funds their efforts. They are pleased to see agencies such as CMHA receive a one-time or sustainable grant funding, but I think from the perspective of what it could be, this certainly is a model that should be available to everybody. However, we recognize that the availability of funding to support the not-for-profits or the mental health agencies is quite restricted across geography.
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Julian Falconer
View Julian Falconer Profile
Julian Falconer
2020-08-14 13:14
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My name is Julian Falconer. I'm a human rights lawyer. I've dedicated my 30-year career to advocating and writing on issues of racism in policing. I'm the founding partner of Falconers LLP, a law firm with offices in Toronto, Thunder Bay and Manitoulin. We have a long history of representing victims of police racism and violence in Ontario. I am honoured to attend before this Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security as part of your sessions on systemic racism in policing in Canada.
Of course, the recognition of the existence of systemic racism in policing in Canada means little more than accepting that racism pervades all corners of Canadian society and that it should hardly be a surprise that our policing institutions are no exception. As a bencher for the Law Society of Ontario, I'm embarrassed to admit that there remain many leaders in our profession—a significant number of my fellow benchers, to be honest—who continue to deny the existence of systemic racism in the legal profession. Obviously, there's no prospect of change if those in a position of power and privilege deny the existence of a problem. The very fact of the title of these committee meetings is testament to how far we have come in terms of dialogue.
I understand the time constraints, so I want to very quickly start with a bit of a caution and sound a cautionary note for a person who's in my business.
I'm fortunate in the work I do. Far from only being exposed to bad policing, I have the honour of acting for a number of indigenous police services in the province of Ontario. I believe fundamentally that policing has an essential role in our society as part of the social contract to keep all of us safe. Our police officers simply represent a microcosm of the entirety of society. They are our brothers, our sisters, our cousins. Like the rest of us, police officers have the right to be safe and go home to their families.
This submission focuses on systemic racism, and by necessity it focuses on bad policing. Make no mistake about it, there is good policing, but our failure to effectively address bad policing overshadows and risks continuing to overshadow good policing. The George Floyd tragedy in the U.S. has given rise to an awakening in this country. The very fact that these committee sessions are dedicated to the topic of systemic racism in policing represents an important breakthrough in dialogue. While I feel it is incumbent on me to recognize this, I wish to state from the outset that dialogue is not enough. What plagues us is a lack of change, a lack of progress and an inability as agents of change to effect real, new outcomes. We have an inability to actually have agents of change influence outcomes.
My life's work has been legal advocacy in the battle against racism and social injustice in its many forms. At Falconers LLP, our work spans three decades. We have provided services to a diverse range of clientele whose differences have spanned race, ethnicity, mental health and culture. I'd like to think of myself and my team as agents of change. I've had the honour of working on such cases as the shooting deaths of Lester Donaldson, Wayne Williams, Edmond Yu and Sammy Yatim. I have represented the family of Ashley Smith. I have acted for Maher Arar. Since 2008, I've had the honour of representing various levels of indigenous governments, members of indigenous communities and indigenous police services.
In all this time, in all of these battles, I've learned that one famous and undeniable French expression applies perfectly.
I am just a “petit gars de Mont-Saint-Hilaire”. As they say there: “plus ça change, plus c'est pareil”.
I travel the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba under my own steam in a small four-seater plane that we like to call Falconair. As a lawyer and bush pilot, much of my time is spent flying in the north. I've seen first-hand the highs and lows of the battles against systemic racism. Its manifestations through the justice system as a whole, whether we are speaking about education, health, child welfare or our justice system, are apparent, and they remain unchanged. While we're able to talk—the talk has started to occur—we are far from able to walk the walk. Even when the ugly truth of systemic racism is seen and agents of oppression are held accountable, there's no mechanism to enforce change. I've seen this.
I saw this in Thunder Bay, when in 2018 the Office of the Independent Police Review Director made a historic finding through a report entitled “Broken Trust”, which I commend to you as committee members. That report, “Broken Trust”, made a finding that an entire police service suffered from systemic racism and that its incompetent investigations of indigenous deaths were attributable not just to a lack of resources or a lack of skills but also to racism that pervaded every level of the service. In my career, this has been the most damning finding in relation to a police service.
Yet here we sit in 2020, and I say this to you: Nothing has changed. Why? Why is it that we seem unable to get out of our own way? I say the reason is that we are unable to actually effect real change.
On page 3 of my submission—I'm well aware of the fact that I am moving along in time—I point out that there is a way to start taking concrete action so that words translate into change. The first thing I want to point out is the concept of mobile crisis teams and the concept that police left on their own, rank-and-file police officers left on their own to de-escalate the situation, doesn't work. People die unnecessarily.
When you're somewhat of an old fart like me, you've been around for long enough. Three decades, 28 years, ago at the inquest into the death of Lester Donaldson, in 1992, we looked at the importance of having mobile crisis teams available. In 1994.... I attach these recommendations in the footnotes. They recommend the creation of a crisis intervention team with a 24-hour response time. It still doesn't exist in the form of a 24-hour response time in Toronto.
I've seen it repeatedly, for instance with Edmond Yu and Sammy Yatim. I've seen it over and over again. We're seeing it right now in Toronto, in Mississauga, with deaths. We are unable to implement and reallocate our resources so that de-escalation, wellness checks and all of the features of keeping people alive are operating. I would say that the reason is that we put so many resources into a militaristic concept of policing, into creating an occupying force in communities, that we are unable to wrap our minds around creating compassionate policing.
What does that mean? It's not some platitude. It means you take mental health professionals and you team them up with police officers interested in de-escalation. You create mobile crisis teams. These teams are brought in not only when the police “have the situation under control”; they're brought in to de-escalate.
Right now, the police culture is unable to wrap its mind around this. They believe these teams should be used only after they, the experts, have brought the situation under control. It's a mistake.
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View Kristina Michaud Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Falconer, you had just begun to give us your recommendations. You talked about changing the concept of crisis intervention teams on the ground for the types of situations you described and including mental health professionals on the teams.
How do you see it? Would it be a partnership of sorts between police and mental health professionals? What do you suggest, Mr. Falconer?
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Julian Falconer
View Julian Falconer Profile
Julian Falconer
2020-08-14 13:41
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I must say that I didn't know how to switch language channels. I hope my understanding of French is good enough for me to answer you properly.
I'm sorry if I got it wrong.
I want to emphasize that there are a number of different kinds of mobile crisis teams. Some are actually made up purely of mental health professionals, but others—the program called COAST, out of Hamilton, is an example—are made up of a combination. What's important about these mobile crisis teams, in terms of the notion of defunding policing, actually, is the allocation of resources.
I'm trying to tell you that if you put the money into police officers who want to de-escalate, who want to do that for a living rather than using their gun or their taser—and there's nothing wrong with officers who joined up to use their toys; that's not unusual—and you team them up with mental health professionals, you'll get different results.
There's an inquest into the death of Beau Baker. He was a Caucasian man with serious mental illness issues in the Waterloo area. We're just about to get that inquest off the ground.
I simply ask you to pay attention, because the issue is that the police are saying they're not going to bring in the mobile crisis team until they've de-escalated the situation and it's safe. Well, of course that's complete nonsense. The reason people are dying is that the police inability to de-escalate is part of the problem.
To answer your question, Ms. Michaud, I think it can take various forms, but it has to involve people skilled in de-escalating.
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Ruth Goba
View Ruth Goba Profile
Ruth Goba
2020-07-24 15:23
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Thank you very much.
First, I acknowledge that I am on the ancestral territories of the Ojibway, the Anishinaabe, and in particular the Mississaugas of the Credit. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada treaties. I am grateful to be here today.
The Black Legal Action Centre is a not-for-profit corporation incorporated under the laws of Ontario. We are a specialty community legal clinic. We opened our doors to the public in March 2019. We are funded by Legal Aid Ontario, and we are governed by an independent volunteer community board of directors.
Our mandate is to combat individual and systemic anti-black racism across the province of Ontario. We achieve our mandate by providing free legal services to low- and no-income black Ontarians who are facing anti-black racism in housing, employment, education, social assistance, human rights, policing and corrections. We engage in systemic advocacy through test-case litigation, law reform and community development. We also provide summary legal advice, free services and legal education.
BLAC appreciates the opportunity to share our perspective on systemic racism in police services in Canada. SECU has a broad mandate, and we are asking you to consider these submissions within the context of that mandate.
Through our work, BLAC regularly hears from members of the black community who are victims of horrific police violence and white supremacy. We all see it in the media. Anti-black racism is real, and we know very tangibly how it impacts and devastates the black community. Notwithstanding this, and notwithstanding the myriad reports from domestic and international bodies, the denial of the existence of anti-black racism continues, most recently from the commissioner of the RCMP.
The existence of systemic anti-black racism in Canadian society should not be a matter of dispute. This has to be the starting point for any genuine investigation into systemic racism in policing, if public safety and trust are to be attained. There is unequivocal evidence of the fact that black and indigenous people are disproportionately impacted by police violence. The fact is that the police in this country, the Northwest Mounted Police, the force that preceded the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, were created to control and intimidate indigenous people, and later, black people. Accordingly, we urge members of this committee, police forces across the country and others in positions of power to unequivocally acknowledge the existing persistent structural inequalities and history of racism in this country.
The ugly truth is that Canada was built on racism and discrimination. The theft of land and the genocide of indigenous people, the denial of the right to vote for women, the exploitation and enslavement of black people to enrich others, the abuse and murder of Chinese people to build railroads, the internment of Japanese Canadians, the turning away of Jews trying to escape Nazism, the persecution of members of the LGBTQ2S+ community—these are but some of the examples that reveal Canada's history of violence, racism and exclusion.
In furtherance of the global call to end police violence perpetrated against black people and in furtherance of our mandate to combat anti-black racism, BLAC has made the following demands. We've made these demands elsewhere and we repeat them to this committee.
Develop a nationwide mandatory policy on collection of data disaggregated by race, colour, ethnic background, national origin and other identities, to determine where racial disparities exist for African Canadians so as to address them accordingly.
Demilitarize the police. The use and deployment of specialized police units and their direct operational relationship to the Canadian military during protests disproportionately brutalize racialized people, criminalize dissent and undermine democracy. Evidence from the United States reveals that there is a direct correlation between the militarization of police and increasing civilian deaths.
Overhaul police oversight. While this speaks to Ontario, I would say that we are calling for this, in the context of this committee, across the country. In Ontario, we have called for the immediate implementation of the report of the independent police oversight review and the repeal of the comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act. Independent civilian police oversight bodies must be accountable to all members of the communities they serve.
We need a clear and public commitment to zero deaths by police services across the country; an immediate reallocation of resources away from police budgets and into public health, housing, transit, children's services, mental health resources, schools, employment, community centres and other social service budgets; complete transparency of police budgets across the country; and a reallocation of resources, funding and responsibility away from police and toward community-based models of safety, support and prevention to ensure that those who are best equipped to deal with the majority of calls for assistance will not show up to people's homes and neighbourhoods with uniforms, guns and tasers.
I ask you to imagine, if the professionals who respond to crises in our communities were mental service providers, gender-based violence advocates and social workers, what the outcome would be.
In Ontario, we recently had the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet. I ask you what, in that case, the outcome would have been if a mental health service provider, properly trained in de-escalation, had shown up to assist her mother when she called the police, rather than six police officers with badges and guns. I submit to you that the outcome would have been quite different and that Regis Korchinski-Paquet would likely be alive today.
While this committee is looking at policing specifically, I note that the last point is related to your mandate to review corrections and correctional facilities. I urge you to develop a national corrections strategy to address and correct the disproportionately high rates of African Canadians in the correctional system and ensure anti-discriminatory and culturally specific services for African Canadian offenders.
The need for broader systemic change is critical. We are at a new juncture in history that requires us to depart from old ways of thinking and build a more inclusive, non-oppressive system for all. Black Canadians, indigenous people and other racialized communities can no longer endure the injustice of a structure and a culture of policing rooted in a history of violence and racism.
I thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.
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View Gagan Sikand Profile
Lib. (ON)
I have one final question for you. Your predecessor also noticed that the CRCC has the expertise not only to deal with the public complaints but also to undertake systemic reviews and investigations into the RCMP.
You recently published a review of the service's use of force. How to you foresee improvements involving wellness calls and de-escalation?
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Michelaine Lahaie
View Michelaine Lahaie Profile
Michelaine Lahaie
2020-07-24 11:35
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In terms of wellness calls and de-escalation, there are two things that really need to be looked at. The first thing that is critical is training. Police officers need to be better trained to be able to handle those particular situations. That means no longer taking a “command and control” approach, as I indicated in my statement, and looking towards greater de-escalation. That is the most important thing.
The second thing is that there needs to be greater efforts made on the part of provincial and territorial governments to provide greater mental health...so that police forces, when it's required, can work with individuals so that de-escalation is made more possible for those who are in crises.
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