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View Jean Crowder Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jean Crowder Profile
2015-06-16 10:11 [p.15116]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-694, An Act to amend the Navigation Protection Act (Nanaimo River and Koksilah River).
She said: Mr. Speaker, I am introducing this private member's bill today to add the Koksilah and Nanaimo rivers to the Navigation Protection Act, because rivers on Vancouver Island are in trouble. Like most rivers on the west coast of North America, our rivers are suffering from drought conditions. A smaller than normal snowpack this winter meant very little spring freshets that feed these rivers.
The Koksilah River was once known for its run of steelhead, but overfishing in the 1980s nearly extirpated them from the river. Now impacts from logging, agriculture, and low summer flows continue to endanger its recovery. Along with the Cowichan River, the Koksilah drains into the Cowichan estuary, an important intertidal area that hosts migratory waterfowl, abundant eel grass beds, and the occasional otter. If summer flows are too low, the spawning salmon must be captured in Cowichan Bay and transported upriver to their spawning beds.
The Nanaimo River flows 78 km from its headwater on Mount Hooper to the Strait of Georgia. While it is celebrated as a great recreational river, it also provides drinking water to 86,000 residents. However, the surface water is only part of the story. The Cassidy aquifers are near the terminal end of the river. While the river recharges the aquifers during the high spring flows, the opposite happens in the late fall when the cool groundwater from the aquifers helps recharge the river, providing ideal conditions for salmon runs.
Sadly, there is no federal protection for either of these rivers, even though they both provide fish habitat for the west coast's iconic salmon. That is why I propose that these two rivers should be added to the list of those protected by federal legislation under the Navigation Protection Act.
I want to thank my seconder, the member for New Westminster—Coquitlam. I also want to thank the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca for his very strong support of the bill.
View Jean Crowder Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jean Crowder Profile
2015-06-11 14:28 [p.14964]
Mr. Speaker, just this week, the House adopted an important code of conduct for members recognizing the seriousness and unacceptability of sexual harassment in our workplace.
Yesterday the Speaker of the Senate confirmed that Senator Meredith is now under investigation for workplace sexual harassment and bullying.
Harassment of any form should not be tolerated in Parliament. Does the government agree that everyone working for the House and the Senate is entitled to a workplace free of harassment?
View Jean Crowder Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jean Crowder Profile
2015-06-04 12:54 [p.14589]
Mr. Speaker, my colleague is very familiar with the nutrition north program and its failures.
I point out that other Canadians from coast to coast to coast are paying to attention to this. In fact, in my riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan, the B.C. founder of Helping Our Northern Neighbours, Jennifer Gwilliam from Shawnigan Lake, has started a program there. The group is gathering food and shipping it at its own expense to northern communities that are desperate for good, safe, nutritious food at an affordable price.
For any of us who have been fortunate enough to either live in the north or travel in the north, we recognize clearly that our northern neighbours simply do not have the same access to food.
Good nutritious food is very important for an individual's overall health, well-being and longevity. Could the member comment on how he sees the lack of safe, affordable food impacting the health outcomes of people living in his riding?
View Jean Crowder Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jean Crowder Profile
2015-06-02 14:33 [p.14480]
Mr. Speaker, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has called on the government to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Justice Murray Sinclair has described it as “the starting point for reconciliation”, but the Conservative government has steadfastly refused to implement the declaration, has voted against our bill, and has spent hundreds of millions of dollars fighting aboriginal rights in court.
Will the government listen to the commission, and will it finally implement the United Nations declaration?
View Jean Crowder Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jean Crowder Profile
2015-05-06 19:44 [p.13572]
Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by acknowledging many of my colleagues and also members from the Liberal Party who are speaking up in support of this important piece of legislation. I have to admit to feeling some frustration after listening to the Conservatives outline a program that is clearly not working. If it were working, I would not have to stand here in this House and propose a piece of legislation to deal with the problem.
Throughout Canada there are hundreds of derelict vessels, both on coastal waterways and on inland waterways, and this is a problem for many members in this House from coast to coast to coast. I am baffled as to why the Conservatives will not support this first step, and I acknowledge it is a first step. In my brief period of time I want to tackle a couple of concerns that they raise.
First, there seems to be four main areas where the Conservatives say they cannot support the bill. The first one, they say, is that this would force the Coast Guard to deal with every derelict vessel, which would adversely affect their operational capacity. If they had read the bill, they would understand that I included a provision that would allow the minister to set out in regulations the circumstances where the receiver of wreck was not obligated to take measures to deal with a derelict vessel. By doing so under the regulatory process, that would allow the public to have a say in when they think vessels should be dealt with by the government.
Clearly, the intention of the bill is not to have the receiver of wreck, the Coast Guard, deal with absolutely every derelict vessel, but we already know the problems that provincial governments and municipalities are having, which has been ably outlined by members like the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, how difficult and complex it is for other levels of government to deal with this and that we do need some clear definitions about when a derelict vessel needs to be apprehended.
Second, the Conservatives say that the Coast Guard is not a stand-alone department. It is part of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, so it cannot be made a permanent receiver of wreck.
Actually, under the act and the regulations as they currently stand, the minister can designate any entity or individual as a receiver of wreck. The status as a stand-alone entity does not matter because the power to designate still resides with the minister. The bill does not change the ability to have the minister designate a receiver of wreck.
Third, the Conservatives are claiming that the cost of dealing with derelict vessels will now be borne by the government and ultimately by the taxpayer. That is nonsense. We have already seen that the government is already having to pick up expenses. Again, the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca pointed out the $40,000 that was spent in cleaning up a vessel, and then an additional $100,000 had to be spent in dealing with the derelict vessel when it had been torched and otherwise dismembered.
Nothing in the bill removes the obligation on the owner of a vessel to pay for its disposal. That is why the receiver of wreck must take all reasonable steps to contact owners before taking action, because those owners are responsible for paying the cost. As currently happens, every effort is made to track down the owners and have them pay for those costs, but we also know there are many cases where it is simply not possible to identify the owner. They are deceased, out of the country or whatever.
It still is incumbent upon the owners to be responsible. If we wait for all derelict vessels to become navigational or environmental hazards, the cost of dealing with them goes up. Again, we have seen that in cases. The longer a vessel remains derelict, the more costly it becomes to remove it. By giving a receiver of wreck the ability to contact the owner upon observing a wreck, this legislation may help prevent vessels deteriorating to such a point that the removal or disposal becomes a costly burden.
Finally, the government is proposing a public relations exercise that will tell owners about their responsibilities. I have to say, many owners already recognize that there is a life cycle issue with vessels, but part of the problem is, there is nowhere to recycle these older vessels. Again, my colleagues have pointed out, there is actually a business opportunity in recycling these vessels.
I am hoping that some members of the government will recognize that these derelict vessels are serious problems in their own riding and that they will actually have the courage to stand up and support Bill C-638 so that we could take the very important first step in dealing with a problem that the government has ignored for the 11 years that I have been elected.
View Jean Crowder Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jean Crowder Profile
2015-05-04 11:51 [p.13359]
Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by acknowledging the very good work of the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou and how important it has been for the House to consider Bill C-641.
I have been around for a number of years now. When many countries throughout the world endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Canada was a laggard. It was only through sustained public pressure and perhaps some international shaming that Canada finally came on board and agreed to endorse the declaration.
I want to put this a little bit in context. In the actual declaration itself there is a statement from the Chair of the UN Permanent Forum at the General Assembly on the occasion of the adoption, September 13, 2007. In this statement, the Chair said:
This Declaration has the distinction of being the only Declaration in the UN which was drafted with the rights-holders, themselves, the Indigenous Peoples. We see this is as a strong Declaration which embodies the most important rights we and our ancestors have long fought for; our right of self-determination, our right to own and control our lands, territories and resources, our right to free, prior and informed consent, among others.
Further on in the statement, the Chair went on to say:
Effective implementation of the Declaration will be the test of commitment of States and the whole international community to protect, respect and fulfill indigenous peoples collective and individual human rights.
That is the important statement in this opening of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I would argue quite strongly that the Conservative government has absolutely failed in terms of any efforts to work toward implementation when it initially endorsed what it promised was to take next steps, and we have seen virtually no activity.
I was not surprised, unfortunately, to hear the member for Wild Rose talk about the Conservative government issuing a clarification statement after it agreed to support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In their clarification statement, the Conservatives continue to claim, despite substantial legal analysis to the contrary, that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples continues to undermine Canadian law and Canadian sovereignty.
I would like to point them to article 46 in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Article 46 says:
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, people, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act contrary to the Charter of the United Nations or construed as authorizing or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States.
This UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is so important for our country moving forward in the 21st century in a more mature relationship.
I would argue that the colonialist and patriarchal approach that successive governments, since Canada's inception and before, have undertaken in terms of relationship with first nations, Inuit and Métis should truly be a thing of the past in the 21st century. Unfortunately what we continue to see, in case after case, is the continued lack of respect for the founding peoples of this country and the way forward in terms of free, prior, informed consent.
There are numerous examples of why this is important, but in my very brief time I want to briefly mention the New Prosperity mine. In an article written by Bill Gallagher, he said, “Native Legal Win # 191”.
That highlights the fact that there is court case after court case largely to do with resource development or consultation and accommodation, which continue to reaffirm that first nations in this country do have the right to free, prior and informed consent, and do have to be included when decisions are made. In the New Prosperity mines, it was just one more example of how, if governments and business would come together and recognize that first nations have the right to determine what happens on their territories, then we would not have millions of dollars tied up in court cases where we continue to see industry not moving forward.
When we are speaking to leadership with first nations, Inuit and Métis, we find that the leaders and communities continue to say, “We are not opposed to development. We want to see our communities prosper. We want to see jobs created, but you need to include us.”
In the most recent Tsilhqot’in decision, it is not just about consultation and accommodation, it is actual consent.
A number of others have talked about some of the ongoing problems, and I want to talk briefly about Jordan's principle, and the latest Auditor General report 2015: access to health services for remote first nations communities. Jordan's principle was unanimously passed in this House many years ago. In 2015, we continue to have a complete and utter failure in terms of providing health care services to first nations communities, and rural, remote communities and many other communities.
It is just one more example of how we are failing to respect those very important relationships. I would encourage every member in this House to support Bill C-641.
View Jean Crowder Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jean Crowder Profile
2015-05-04 14:33 [p.13383]
Mr. Speaker, SIRC is a review body, not an oversight body. Judges will give CSIS warrants, but who will make sure that CSIS respects these warrants?
For months we have heard experts, first nations, business people, and Canadians from across the political spectrum all say the same thing: giving CSIS sweeping new powers without providing any independent oversight is a dangerous mistake. How is it possible, after everything we have heard, that Liberals and Conservatives continue to stand in their places and vote in favour of a bill that they know is wrong?
View Jean Crowder Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jean Crowder Profile
2015-05-01 11:10 [p.13323]
Mr. Speaker, rivers in my riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan are in trouble. We are known as the “wet coast”, but climate change is leaving our rainforest parched.
This winter brought only 15% of the normal snow pack, meaning the spring melt will bring less water to refresh our watersheds, and the El Niño system in the Pacific may mean a hotter and drier summer.
Last August, a weir was used to slow the amount of water released into the Cowichan River so there would be enough flow when salmon returned to spawn. The Nanaimo River is healthier, but its winter steelhead run is in trouble, putting at risk a successful fishery and tourism industry.
The Chemainus, Koksilah and the Nitinat Rivers are all affected by logging, overfishing and urbanization.
The 2012 Conservative budget removed environmental protection for these rivers and cut fisheries habitat protection, funding many communities use to build side channels and increase awareness of impacts of logging and farming practices.
Many of my constituents see how climate change is affecting our ecosystem. People are working together to mitigate its effects, but we cannot do it as a single community. We need the federal government to work with us, not against us.
View Jean Crowder Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jean Crowder Profile
2015-05-01 11:47 [p.13330]
Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Police Information Centre database is being cut by the Conservative government. It is outrageous that police are being asked to do a dangerous job without complete information. It puts them and the public at risk.
Why does the minister seem to be content to sit back and let the police operate in the dark for another two years? Why is he cutting resources to this modernization project when he should be doing what it takes to get that database up to date right now?
View Jean Crowder Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jean Crowder Profile
2015-05-01 12:06 [p.13334]
Mr. Speaker, I present a petition from residents of Duncan who have raised concerns about the ability of small family farmers to produce the food that is required to feed their families and their communities.
The petitioners ask the government to adopt international aid policies that support small family farmers, especially women, and recognize their vital role in the fight against hunger and poverty; that Canadian policies and programs be developed in consultation with small family farmers; and that they protect the rights of small family farmers in the global south to preserve, use and freely exchange seeds.
View Jean Crowder Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jean Crowder Profile
2015-04-21 10:04 [p.12799]
Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present.
The first petition is on Bill C-638, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act. The petitioners outline that derelict and abandoned vessels pose an environmental risk and a navigation hazard, and that regulations must be made to establish measures to be taken for the removal, disposition or destruction by the appropriate authority.
The petitioners call upon the House of Commons to support Bill C-638, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act.
View Jean Crowder Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jean Crowder Profile
2015-04-21 10:05 [p.12799]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition is on the fair electoral representation act.
The petitioners are calling on the House of Commons to immediately undertake public consultations across Canada to amend the Canada Elections Act to ensure voters can cast an equal and effective vote to be represented fairly in Parliament regardless of political belief or place of residence, are governed by a fairly elected Parliament where the share of seats held by each political party closely reflects the popular vote, and finally live under legitimate laws approved by a majority of elected parliamentarians representing the majority of voters.
View Jean Crowder Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jean Crowder Profile
2015-04-21 10:05 [p.12799]
Mr. Speaker, in the final petition, the petitioners call on the Canadian government to ensure that the right of family farmers to use seeds is respected.
View Jean Crowder Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jean Crowder Profile
2015-04-21 10:36 [p.12803]
Mr. Speaker, as the member has pointed out, the NDP is supporting Bill C-12.
However, there is a misnomer in the title. The short title is “drug-free prisons act”, but in the annual report of the Office of the Correctional Investigator for 2011-12, it was pointed out that a zero tolerance stance to drugs in prison is an aspiration rather than an effective policy. It simply does not accord with the facts on crime and addiction in Canada or elsewhere in the world. As the report states. “Harm reduction measures within a public health and treatment orientation offer a far more promising, cost-effective and sustainable approach to reducing subsequent crime and victimization.”
The member raised the issues around the need for rehabilitation in her speech. I wonder if she could comment on that statement.
View Jean Crowder Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jean Crowder Profile
2015-04-21 12:45 [p.12818]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-12, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, and as others have pointed out, the short title is the drug-free prisons act.
Other New Democrats have indicated today that we are supporting this very narrow bill, and people might wonder why we are rising to speak to the bill if we are supporting it. Part of the reason we are rising to speak comes down to the short title, the drug-free prisons act. Nothing in the bill would contribute toward a goal of drug-free prisons.
One would think, given the Conservatives' approach to being tough on crime, that part of their interests would be that any legislation they bring forward would actually have a goal of keeping our communities safer. So part of that goal would be that, when people are incarcerated, when the justice system has found them guilty and they are incarcerated for whatever their misdeeds were—we would presume the Conservative goal would be to ensure that prisoners are rehabilitated so that they can be reintegrated back into the community in a safe way and thus keep our communities safer.
I think all of us in the House would argue that one of our roles is to ensure that federal employees have a safe workplace. We would assume that any legislation we bring forward would consider whether or not the workplace for correctional officers, men and women who serve in the federal penitentiary system, is safe. I would argue that nothing in the bill would achieve those ends.
I am turning to the legislative summary because it is important to highlight what exactly the bill would do and presumably why the bill came about. The legislative summary says:
The bill requires the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) (or a provincial parole board, if applicable) to cancel the parole of an offender who has not yet been released if the offender tests positive in a urinalysis or fails to provide a urine sample and the Board is of the opinion that the criteria for granting parole are no longer met.
The bill also clarifies the legislative intent underlying section 133(3) of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act 1 (CCRA)—which authorizes a releasing authority to set conditions on an offender's parole, statutory release or unescorted temporary absence—to provide that conditions may be set regarding the offender's use of drugs or alcohol, including when that use has been identified as a risk factor in the offender's criminal behaviour.
There is a long history of drug use within the penitentiary system, and the legislative summary quotes some of that background. Under a section called “The Presence of Drugs in the Federal Penitentiary System”, it says:
Prevalence rates of substance abuse for persons involved in the criminal justice system are “much higher” than those in the general population. According to the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), “in Canada, 80% of offenders entering the federal prison system are identified as having a substance abuse problem.”
I am going to repeat that number: 80% of people of entering the system have a substance abuse problem. That should be setting all kinds of warning bells off for everybody in the House who is considering legislation.
The summary goes on to say:
The presence of drugs within the federal penitentiary system is not a recent phenomenon. Problems associated with drugs in the penitentiary system were noted in 1990 by the Federal Court of Canada in Jackson v. Joyceville Penitentiary (T.D.), when the Court found that the evidence clearly indicated that:
unauthorized intoxicants in the prison setting create very serious problems including a greater risk and level of violence that affects the safety and security of prison institutions for both staff and inmates.
In 2000, the Sub-committee on the Corrections and Conditional Release Act of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights tabled a report entitled A Work in Progress: The Corrections and Conditional Release Act, in which it noted:
One of the issues that arose in virtually every correctional facility visited by the Sub-committee was the entry, presence and use of drugs in an environment where they are not supposed to be found. The Sub-committee also learned that the brewing, distribution and consumption of alcohol are serious problems in many correctional institutions. The consequences of the presence of alcohol and drugs in correctional facilities can be devastating to both the correctional environment and to what corrections personnel are trying to achieve in working with offenders.
Probably people who have listened to this debate would presume that the collection of a urine analysis for drug testing is something new, when in fact, it has existed within the penitentiary system for a number of years.
I will not go over all the history, but the mandatory urine analysis within the penitentiary system began in the mid-1980s, and so it has been going on for decades. There have been some changes to it because of some court challenges and human rights issues, but essentially the collection of urine for analysis and drug testing has been within the penitentiary system for a number of years.
What currently exists? According to the legislative summary, under the heading “Authority to Collect Urine Samples” it says, “Today, the CCRA authorizes the collection of urine samples within the institutional setting in the following prescribed circumstances.”
I will read the prescribed conditions without the explanation, but a number of things have to be present: reasonable grounds; random selection; when required for program activity involving community contact or a treatment program; testing to monitor compliance with conditions to abstain from the consumption of drugs or alcohol; consequences of a positive result or a refusal to provide a sample; and consequences for offenders on conditional release. This is the current situation from before we had Bill C-12 before us.
Therefore, we already have this method. However, in terms of drug-free prisons, I will talk a little later about how effective the programs have been, or have not been, and how little the bill would contribute to it.
On the changes to the legislation, clause 2 of Bill C-12 would amend the CCRA by creating a new section, 123.1, which states that the CSC is required to inform the Parole Board when an offender has been granted day or full parole but has not yet been released, has failed or refused to provide a urine sample or has had a positive urine analysis test.
Clause 3 of the bill would add a new section that states that if the Parole Board has been informed of an offender's failure or refusal to provide a urine sample or positive urine analysis result, and the offender has not yet been released, it must cancel the offender's parole, but only if, in its opinion, the criteria for granting parole provided in section 102 of the CCRA are no longer met.
Clause 4 of the bill would modify section 133(3) of the CCRA to direct the consideration of a condition regarding the offender's use of drugs or alcohol following an offender's failure or refusal to provide a urine sample, and Bill C-12 would give the Parole Board clear legal authority for the imposition of a condition regarding the use of drugs or alcohol by adding that:
For greater certainty, the conditions may include any condition regarding the offender’s use of drugs or alcohol, including in cases when that use has been identified as a risk factor in the offender’s criminal behaviour.
Therefore, what we have currently is a situation where the Correctional Service of Canada already does the urine sampling and drug analysis, and now we have this communication link with the Parole Board so that it may be considered when granting parole. However, members will notice that nowhere in there does it talk about rehabilitation or treatment while offenders are within the correctional system. Therefore, how this would contribute to a drug-free prison escapes me. I cannot find anything in the legislation that would create an environment that would reduce the use of drugs in prisons, that would presumably lead to better reintegration into society and more safety for prison staff who have to deal with these inmates who may be intoxicated or under the influence of some sort of drug.
It is interesting that this issue has been raised in any number of venues, and I am going to quote from an April 2012 report called “Drugs and Alcohol in Federal Penitentiaries: An Alarming Problem”. This is a report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. In that report, there is a section entitled “The Impact of Drugs and Alcohol in Federal Correctional Facilities”. The report states that:
Upon admission, 80% of offenders have a serious substance abuse problem, and over half of them reported that alcohol and drug use was a factor in the commission of their offence.
Mental health problems are also highly prevalent among inmates in the correctional system. Experts note that drug addicts and inmates with mental health issues generally have complex problems to contend with, such as concurrent mental health issues, drug addiction and alcoholism.
Dr. Sandy Simpson, Clinical Director of the Law and Mental Health Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, said that substance abuse “is a driver of mental ill health and it is also a barrier to recovery, wellness, and reducing recidivism.” This is all the more alarming since “anywhere up to 90% of a standing prison population will have a lifetime problem of substance misuse or dependence.” The Commissioner also raised this point with the Committee, noting that “[t]his dependency does not magically disappear when they arrive at our gates.”
Anybody who has studied the corrections system is well aware that these substances are illegally available within the correctional system. I think there is a theory out there that when people go to prison, they will go cold turkey and somehow magically be relieved of needing or wanting the substance, but of course, these substances are illegally available in the system, which does not help with reintegration into society.
With regard to that report, New Democrats actually filed a dissenting opinion because, despite all of the testimony that was heard, the report only came down on one part of a proposed solution. In the dissenting report, New Democrats said:
The report: Drugs and Alcohol in Federal Penitentiaries: an Alarming Problem, is fundamentally flawed and fails to adequately represent the testimony heard at committee in a fair manner. Critical information is missing and as a result many of the conclusions and recommendations are incomplete or insufficient, for this reason New Democrat members of the Public Safety Committee have submitted this dissenting opinion....
The most startling example of the information missing from this report is the failure to note evidence that clearly demonstrated $122 million dollars [sic] of Conservative spending on interdiction tools and technology since 2008 has not led to any reduction in drug use in prisons. The Commissioner of Correctional Services Canada...Mr. Don Head, admitted at meeting number 16 on December 1, 2011, that this spending has been largely ineffective according to the CSC's own report on drug-testing, but this information is not reflected anywhere in the committee's report.
Of significant concern is the appearance that the Committee's report reached a pre-determined conclusion that the solution to the problems of drugs and alcohol in prison is increasing interdiction measures. This conclusion does not reflect the testimony that the Committee heard describing the complexity of the problem of drug and alcohol in federal prisons. As many witnesses affirmed, a narrow focus on interdiction measures alone will not serve the purpose of reducing the use of drugs and alcohol....
New Democrats believe that the problems facing Canadian prisons, including mental illness, drug use and the spread of disease, including HIV and hepatitis, are complex and interrelated. Violence and increased population pressures, gangs and drug trafficking in prisons are as interrelated as well. In order to move towards real solutions targeting the issue of drugs and alcohol in prisons, a balanced approach that is based on a complete understanding of the problems that exist is required.
Unfortunately, that report was another example of where the Conservative majority on the committee used the majority to actually subvert the recommendations and witness testimony so that it came out with a very narrow conclusion that simply did not reflect the other work that was done.
I want to turn for a moment to the Correctional Investigator, who provides annual reports that talk about the state of prisons in Canada. In a report from 2012 on the previous fiscal years, he indicated a number of problems, and I would like to take a few moments to raise that. In his report, he stated:
More offenders are admitted to federal penitentiaries more addicted and mentally ill than ever before. 36% have been identified at admission as requiring some form of psychiatric or psychological follow-up. 63% of offenders report using either alcohol or drugs on the day of their current offence. With a changing and more complex offender profile come accumulating pressure points and needs—provide for safe and secure custody, meet growing mental health and physical health care demands, and respond to the special needs of aging, minority and Aboriginal offenders. This is a compromised population which presents some very complex mental health, physical health and criminogenic issues. As I report here, these needs often run ahead of the system's capacity to meet them.
He provided some numbers. People love to talk numbers in the House, as they should. He indicated that the annual cost of keeping a federal inmate behind bars has increased from $88,000 in 2005-06 to more than $113,000 in 2009-10. In contrast, the annual average cost to keep an offender in the community is about $29,500. At a time of widespread budgetary restraint, it seems prudent to use prison sparingly and as a last resort, as it was intended to be.
Later on in the report, the Correctional Investigator outlined some challenges with mental health because, as noted, mental health and substance abuse often go hand in hand.
Again, quoting some statistics, he said:
CSC data indicates that the proportion of offenders with mental health needs identified at intake has doubled in the period between 1997 and 2008. 13% of male inmates and 29% of women were identified at admission as presenting mental health problems. 30.1% of women offenders compared to 14.5% of male offenders had previously been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons.
CSC's use of computerized mental health screening at admission indicates that 62% of offenders entering a federal penitentiary are “flagged” as requiring a follow-up mental health assessment or service.
Offenders diagnosed with a mental illness are typically afflicted by more than one disorder, often a substance abuse problem, which affects 4 out of 5 offenders in federal custody.
That is four out of five. That is 80% in custody.
50% of federally sentenced women self-report histories of self-harm, over half identify a current or previous addiction to drugs, 85% report a history of physical abuse and 68% experienced sexual abuse at some point in their lives.
He reviewed the progress with regard to dealing with some of these matters, and the Correctional Investigator indicated the following:
In a series of reports and investigations over the last three years, the Office has identified gaps in CSC's mental health framework and has further recommended a series of measures where progress is necessary. The following are among the most urgent needs in the federal system that speak to capacity and resource issues and raise questions of purpose, priority and direction:
1. Create intermediate mental health care units.
2. Recruit and retain more mental health professionals.
3. Treat self-injurious behaviour as a mental health, not security, issue.
4. Increase capacity at the Regional Treatment Centres.
5. Prohibit the use of long-term segregation of offenders at risk of suicide or serious self-injury as well as offenders with acute mental health issues.
6. Expand the range of alternative mental health service delivery partnerships with the provinces and territories.
7. Provide for 24/7 health care coverage at all maximum, medium and multi-level institutions.
With regard to drugs in prison, he indicated that there is no question that the presence of illegal substances is a major safety and security challenge. He said:
The smuggling and trafficking of illicit substances and the diversion of legal drugs inside federal penitentiaries present inherent risks that ultimately jeopardize the safety and security of institutions and the people that live and work inside them. Almost two-thirds of federal offenders report being under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants when they committed the offence.... A very high percentage of the offender population that abuses drugs is also concurrently struggling with mental illness. The interplay between addiction, substance abuse and mental health functioning is complex and dynamic. Living with addiction or managing a substance abuse problem in a prison setting creates its own laws of supply and demand, which in turn is influenced by gang activity and other pressures.
We can see that there is a very serious problem within the prison system. We have had a number of experts who have testified to that in a variety of circumstances, yet the bill does nothing to deal with that problem.
He recommended the following:
a comprehensive and integrated drug strategy should include a balance of measures—prevention, treatment, harm reduction and interdiction. The Office's analysis suggests that CSC's current anti-drug strategy lacks three key elements:
1. An integrated and cohesive link between interdiction and suppression activities and prevention, treatment and harm reduction measures.
2. A comprehensive public reporting mechanism, and;
3. A well-defined evaluation, review and performance plan to measure the overall effectiveness of its investments.
With respect to performance indicators and public reporting, a more balanced score sheet might include consideration of these measures:
Decreased gang activity linked to the institutional drug trade.
Reduction in the number of major security incidents....
It goes on. I know I am running out of time, so I want to conclude by indicating that the Correctional Investigator said this:
On balance, the facts surrounding and impacts of substance abuse and addiction in federal prisons suggest a different approach. A "zerotolerance" stance to drugs in prison, while perhaps serving as an effective deterrent posted at the entry point of a penitentiary, simply does not accord with the facts of crime and addiction in Canada or elsewhere in the world. Harm reduction measures within a public health and treatment orientation offer a far more promising, cost-effective and sustainable approach to reducing subsequent crime and victimization.
Although we are supporting the bill, I would urge the Conservative government to take a more detailed and complex look at the problem of substance abuse within the prison system.
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