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Results: 1 - 15 of 108
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Mr. Speaker, both as a member of Parliament and a physician, I have heard from constituents, patients and many others about the high cost of prescription drugs. Canadians are proud of their universal public health care system, but we know that nearly one million Canadians have to give up essentials like food to pay for their medication. That is why I am heartened to see our government taking action on this critical issue.
Could the Minister of Health update the House on our work to make prescription drugs affordable for more Canadians?
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Mr. Speaker, Equal Opportunities West is an amazing organization in Winnipeg that promotes an inclusive community where people with disabilities are treated with respect and dignity. It does incredible work in our community and I am proud to support it.
I am also pleased to share that I will hosting my third annual Community BBQ and e-waste drive in support of Equal Opportunities West. Last year, we beat our previous record and helped divert almost 20,000 kilograms of e-waste from landfills, and we are looking forward to topping that this year.
I encourage everyone in Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley to stop by on June 8, drop off their e-waste, pick up a hot dog and say hello to the amazing staff, volunteers and participants of Equal Opportunities West.
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to extend a warm welcome to all participating and attending the 14th annual Manito Ahbee Festival in Winnipeg.
The Manito Ahbee Festival brings people together from across Canada and from around the world to experience the very best in indigenous music, art and culture in an effort to unify, educate and inspire.
The festival will start today with the lighting of the sacred fire at the Oodena Circle at the Forks and includes a friendship dance to welcome everyone attending. This wonderful celebration offers all Canadians the opportunity to honour and develop a deeper understanding of indigenous culture and heritage and to celebrate its importance in Canada's multicultural mosaic.
We thank all the organizers for their hard work and dedication to making this event a success.
I would also like to extend my best wishes for an enjoyable and memorable festival for all.
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise at the second reading of Bill C-93, an act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis.
During the last election, we committed to legalizing and regulating cannabis, and legislation doing exactly that took effect last fall. As a member of the Standing Committee on Health, I am proud to have been part of the committee's review of the Cannabis Act. We now have a regulated system that keeps cannabis out of the hands of youth and profits out of the hands of criminals.
At that time, the government signalled that it would turn its attention to dealing with the criminal records created under the old regime. We now have before us Bill C-93, legislation that would make it easier for individuals who have been previously convicted only of simple possession of cannabis to have their records cleared.
Bill C-93 proposes an expedited process for receiving a pardon, which is also known as a record suspension. The usual $631 application fee would be waived, as would the usual waiting period, which can be as long as 10 years. The bill would reduce barriers to full participation in society for these individuals. It would allow them greater access to job opportunities, educational programs, housing and even the ability to simply volunteer in their communities. It would make things more fair. It would enhance public safety by allowing people to reintegrate into society. It would fulfill an important commitment to Canadians in delivering on this new regime.
This is the first time in history that both the application fee and wait period for a pardon would be waived. This unprecedented measure is a strong statement, recognizing that convictions for simple possession of cannabis have resulted in hardship for many Canadians and that certain populations, including members of black and indigenous communities, have been disproportionately affected.
For my part today, I would like to delve a little deeper into the nuts and bolts of the legislation. To begin with, Bill C-93 proposes to amend the Criminal Records Act. It would waive the fee, waiting period and certain subjective criteria for people convicted only of simple possession of cannabis under one of three acts: the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act; the Narcotic Control Act, which existed until the 1990s; and the National Defence Act.
Eligibility would not be based on the amount possessed but rather on the purpose. People would be eligible if possession were for personal use only. People would not be eligible if there were any trafficking or production involved. In order to qualify for the waived wait period, an applicant would have to demonstrate to the Parole Board of Canada some basic facts: first, that the substance they possessed was cannabis; second, that their sentence was completed; and third, that the conviction was only for possession for personal use. To do so, applicants would provide standard police and court documents. The Parole Board would be available to help people through the process by email or phone.
As a way of further expediting the process, the decision to grant a pardon would not be discretionary. Usually, a Parole Board member assesses pardon applications to decide whether an applicant has been of good conduct and whether a pardon would give them some measurable benefit. Discretion based on subjective criteria would not apply here. Instead, the Parole Board would be required to issue a pardon, as long as people are eligible and have completed their sentences. There would be nothing else to consider. The application would therefore be processed much more quickly by Parole Board staff.
Once a pardon is ordered, the Parole Board would notify the RCMP to have the records sequestered in the national repository of criminal records. Once that is done, the RCMP would notify other federal agencies, and the Parole Board would alert provincial, territorial and municipal partners. For instance, it would mean that a criminal record check by a prospective employer or landlord would come up empty. As well, the records could only be disclosed or reinstated in exceptional circumstances. In practice, for cannabis possession, the only likely scenario in which anyone would ever see a record again would be if they commit a new criminal offence.
Bill C-93 would fulfill our commitment to creating a simplified process for people with convictions for cannabis possession to shed their criminal records, along with the associated burdens and stigma.
Work is also continuing on broader pardons reform, informed by consultations held by the Parole Board and Public Safety Canada as well as a recent study by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.
That study, initiated by the member for Saint John—Rothesay, led to thoughtful and unanimous recommendations calling for pardons to become more accessible, not just for cannabis possession but across the board. I am glad that Parliament has been seized with that issue and I look forward to progress on that front.
For the moment, though, we have an opportunity to move forward right now with the targeted recourse in Bill C-93. As I have noted, this further enhances public safety by reducing the barriers to reintegration associated with a criminal record.
Many Canadians are stuck with a criminal record for activity that is no longer considered a crime. It is about time we make things fairer for those Canadians who have been living crime-free. That is why I offer my full support to Bill C-93. I encourage all my colleagues to do the right thing and join me in making sure this bill moves forward.
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Madam Speaker, in regard to completing one's sentence, the main point of that is administrative. There are administrative challenges to removing a record in the midst of a proceeding, and this has never been done before. The barrier this could create is mostly theoretical because, as we know, the penalties for the actual offences have been short. It is very unlikely that there is anyone right now sitting in a jail cell for simple possession of cannabis, so the practical downside is likely insignificant.
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Madam Speaker, right now the costs of our current regime are astronomical. When people are unable to get proper employment, they often will be living in poverty and they become involved in the justice system, all things that in themselves have tremendous costs to society. These costs would will no longer be borne by our society.
Second, with regard to the cost to the government as a result of the waived fee that the member talks about, we must remember that this astronomical cost for applying for a pardon was instituted by the previous government. I would argue that such a fee for any pardon is extreme, and I would like to see that cost severely reduced in the future, if not cancelled altogether.
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Madam Speaker, first, as I said in my previous answer, it is because the fees put in place by the previous government for a pardon are excessive and are a barrier for people who want a productive life. Second, the fees probably cost the taxpayers more in decreased productivity, as those who still have criminal records cannot become productive members of society.
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Mr. Speaker, we are all indebted to the amazing individuals who put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe in my constituency and across the country. Can the minister responsible for western economic diversification update this House on our government's work to celebrate emergency service workers and to stimulate new business growth and economic opportunities for Winnipeg?
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Mr. Speaker, homelessness in our veteran community is unacceptable in Canada. One homeless veteran is one too many.
I am a member of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, and the well-being of the brave women and men who put their lives on the line for our nation is a top priority for me and our government. This is why I introduced a motion last year at the committee to study homelessness in our veteran community.
After working collaboratively with colleagues from all sides on this study, I am proud to share that this week our committee tabled our report, entitled “Moving Towards Ending Homelessness Among Veterans”. In our report, we submitted 10 concrete recommendations to address homelessness in our veteran community. Currently, there are 3,000 to 5,000 veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Canada. This is a problem that can be solved, and the time to act is now.
I want to thank all the witnesses who appeared before our committee and shared their personal and powerful stories. They were prepared to lay down their lives for our country, and we are prepared to fulfill our sacred obligation to them.
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Mr. Speaker, today marks the beginning of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. As a motorcyclist, I regularly ride my Triumph Bonneville down Portage Avenue and take part in Ride For Dad, an event in support of prostate cancer research. However, as an emergency room physician, I am also familiar with the tragedies that come with motorcycle collisions. Many of these collisions can be prevented, and we can all help.
This month we are reminded of how we can do our part in helping to keep the 700,000 Canadian motorcycle riders safe. I am proud that our government is committed to taking steps to ensure that all Canadian road users always ride safe, but we must all do our part. Let us remember to encourage riders to wear the proper protective gear and to encourage motorcycle riders and automobile drivers to always look twice and check blind spots before switching lanes.
I want to thank the organizations that advocate for road safety every day, such as the Motorcyclists Confederation of Canada. Through advocacy around Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, we are reminded this month, and every month, to ride safe.
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise on behalf of the 8,743 Canadians who signed my petition to address violence against health care workers.
The petition calls upon the Minister of Health to develop a pan-Canadian prevention strategy to address growing incidents of violence against health care workers to ensure that all health care settings across our country are safe.
For too long, violence was often considered part of the job. During my time in the emergency room, I was assaulted on two occasions, and thousands of nurses, doctors, paramedics and support staff continue to face much worse on a regular basis
It is time for violence in the workplace to end and for real action to address this serious issue. I want to thank Linda Silas of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions and Darlene Jackson of the Manitoba Nurses Union for their tireless efforts on behalf of health care workers. It has been a privilege to work with both of them on this petition and on the health committee's upcoming study on this issue.
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Winnipeg North.
I am pleased to have this opportunity to rise at third reading of Bill C-83. This important piece of legislation proposes significant reforms to Canada's correctional system. These changes would make our federal correctional institutions safer places for staff and inmates alike, and that in turn would contribute to greater safety for people in our communities.
Under Bill C-83, administrative segregation would be eliminated and a new correctional intervention model would be established through the implementation of structured intervention units, SIUs, which would serve to address the safety and security risks of offenders who are at any given time too dangerous or disruptive to be managed in the mainstream inmate population. When those offenders need to be separated for safety reasons, they would be placed in an SIU. While they are there, they would continue to have access to the interventions and programming they need to make progress on their correctional plan and improve their likelihood of rehabilitation.
The goal is to help offenders reintegrate into the mainstream inmate population as quickly as possible. That has been the main goal of Bill C-83 from the very beginning and remains so today in the bill's current form. We have arrived at a very solid, concise and thorough piece of legislation that was very strong to begin with. That is a testament to a robust, democratic and healthy legislative process, including thoughtful discussion in this chamber and careful scrutiny and informative testimony at committee. That process led to a number of amendments that have strengthened this bill.
Many of those amendments focus on additional measures to ensure that the SIUs would operate as intended. For example, amendments were made to specify that daily time outside an SIU cell must be offered between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. and that opportunities to interact through human contact must not be mediated or interposed by physical barriers.
Other amendments are about enhancing oversight and transparency when it comes to SIU placement decisions. However, today I would like to focus on one amendment in particular, proposed by the member for Oakville North—Burlington, which would introduce a new independent external decision-making function.
Under Bill C-83, independent external decision-makers would review an inmate's placement in an SIU if it falls under any one of three specific circumstances.
The first circumstance is if an inmate has not received or taken advantage of the opportunity to spend a minimum of four hours a day outside of their cell or two hours of interaction with others or five consecutive days or 15 cumulative days over a 30-day period. The second is if an inmate has been confined to an SIU for 90 consecutive days. The third is if a health care committee of senior officials from the Correctional Service of Canada has made the determination to maintain an inmate in an SIU contrary to the recommendations of a registered health professional.
This process would ensure that decisions to maintain an inmate in an SIU would be subject to scrutiny and ongoing assessment at specific time periods through a mechanism that would operate at arm's length from the Correctional Service of Canada.
Reviews conducted by independent external decision-makers would create additional external monitoring of inmates who are placed in SIUs. This would include vulnerable inmates, such as those who are not participating in programming or interventions or receiving meaningful human contact. It would also support transparency around decisions to maintain vulnerable inmates in an SIU. In all cases, the external decision-maker would be authorized to order the inmate to be released from the SIU entirely.
In addition, when it has been recommended by a registered health care professional, the external decision-maker could order the modification of the inmate's conditions of confinement in the SIU. The proposed addition of the independent external decision-maker's response was one of the main points raised at the committee stage by various witnesses. More specifically, concerns were raised that inmates in an SIU could still be subjected to indeterminate and prolonged confinement. The introduction of an additional external review mechanism addresses these concerns and would help keep our correctional system safe, lawful and accountable.
Another issue that was raised by witnesses at committee, including those representing front-line staff in federal correctional institutions, involved whether additional resources would be made available to support the implementation of the bill.
To ensure that our federal correctional system has the resources it needs to successfully implement the changes proposed in Bill C-83, the government announced a total of $448 million in funding for corrections in last year's fall economic statement. That includes approximately $297 million over six years to implement the proposed SIUs, funding that, in the words of the Minister of Public Safety would ensure that Correctional Service Canada “has people with the right skill sets in the right places at the right times”.
Canada's federal correctional system is already in a class of its own. Operating in a challenging environment, it does a remarkable job of fulfilling its objectives of holding guilty parties to account, while fostering their rehabilitation. An important part of that rehabilitation process is making sure that offenders, including those who must be separated, are able to take part in reintegration programming in order to make progress against the objectives set out in their correctional plan.
That programming is essential to a successful transition to the mainstream inmate population, and after that, to the community at the end of a sentence. The bill would improve the way that works. In doing so, it would help bring about safer institutions for staff and inmates, in the short term. In the long run, it would mean fewer repeat offenders, fewer victims and safer communities for all.
Getting the bill to where it is today has been a truly collaborative effort. I have been impressed and heartened by the careful attention and constructive input given to the bill from all parties and all corners. I would like to thank hon. members for the roles they have played throughout that entire process so far. The result is improved legislation that, if passed, I am confident will lead to a better, safer and more effective correctional system.
For all these reasons, I will be voting in favour of Bill C-83 at third reading and I encourage all my hon. colleagues to join me in doing the same.
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Mr. Speaker, there were a number of stakeholders consulted on this, including Corrections Canada law enforcement officials. There was plenty of opportunity for input at the committee stage for increasing opportunities for consultation.
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Mr. Speaker, I agree completely. People often talk about the revolving door of the prison system and there is a revolving door. However, there are those who think that the answer to that is longer and harsher punishments. In fact, the evidence is clear that longer sentences and harsh conditions during incarceration actually increase the likelihood that an inmate will reoffend.
Furthermore, during my visit to Stony Mountain penitentiary, north of Winnipeg, it became clear that there are large numbers of inadequately treated people with mental health issues, who are essentially being warehoused in our correctional system because they do not have the adequate treatment in the community and, therefore, offend. This is a valuable way to ensure that these people receive the care and rehabilitation they need. They will actually be less likely to reoffend and this will improve public safety.
View Doug Eyolfson Profile
Lib. (MB)
Mr. Speaker, needle exchange programs have been shown, in many environments, to improve safety and improve the health of the users. A needle exchange program does not introduce additional needles to the program. These people already have needles that have been smuggled in and they reuse them, which can transmit infectious diseases. These needles are exchanged for clean ones, which will make for a safer environment.
As well, part of the enhancements of the bill will include body scanners to make it much less likely that such needles would be smuggled into the prison in the first place. Therefore, the needle exchange program would improve the safety of inmates and the safety of staff.
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