Evidence of meeting #32 for Public Safety and National Security in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was facility.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Garry Breitkreuz

Thank you very much for that.

I just want to advise the committee at this point that I don't know if we can add, as has been suggested, anything to our travel. We are actually at the maximum amount. Also, our time that week is just about taken up. Anyway we can discuss it and maybe a lot of it will be in camera.

Are there any questions or comments?

Mr. Holland, please.

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Thank you very much to both of you for appearing before the committee today and helping us with this important trip.

There are a couple of questions I'd like to pose.

First, I've toured a number of facilities before, and obviously one can understand that the best face is always put forward when you're there. So you're taken to the very best elements of the facility. Obviously, we want to see what's working and what's successful; I don't think we want to avoid that and just see what's bad. But similarly, we don't just want to see what's good. How do you suggest we see both sides? You made some suggestions there, but in a more concrete way, how do you suggest we ensure this study is balanced and that we see both sides?

Second, we don't have anything in our schedule at all around talking with people from, say, the John Howard Society or Elizabeth Fry Society. Would you recommend that we have conversations with them as well when we're there, particularly given the fact that they might be easier to incorporate into our schedule because they would obviously be available to meet at the locations we would be at?

11:30 a.m.

Correctional Investigator, Office of the Correctional Investigator

Howard Sapers

Thank you for your questions, Mr. Holland.

On your first point as to whether you're only going to see where they've recently painted the walls and polished the floors, I suppose that might be the case, but I can tell you that running a correctional facility is complicated and that it changes from moment to moment. The Correctional Service will be interested in showing you, certainly, the best they offer, but I believe they'll also give you a fair showing of what their challenges and problems are as well. The institutions you're visiting do represent the range of institutions in terms of their age, capacity, population counts, and program availability, etc.

I would recommend that you perhaps ask to talk to the chair of an inmate committee if you don't feel you're being told everything or shown everything. I'd recommend that you seek out the native brotherhoods or sisterhoods, depending on the institutions you're in. The elders who come into the institutions to provide aboriginal spiritual guidance are also good sources of information. Walk the segregation ranges and go through the areas where there is inmate employment and I think you'll get a pretty fair showing.

In terms of engagement with the NGOs, certainly I would endorse that. Many of these organizations have staff and volunteers who spend hours and hours inside institutions right across the country at all levels, and they're a tremendous source, I think, of invaluable information. There are umbrella groups, such as the National Associations Active in Criminal Justice of the Canadian Criminal Justice Association, which may provide you with very good access to local contacts as you're travelling across the country.

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Could you say there is any one critical thing missing from our travel schedule? I know you mentioned we should visit Dorchester Penitentiary when we're visiting another facility there. There's also the suggestion of visiting a facility in Nova Scotia. We're not visiting anything in the Pacific, which is a bit of a concern.

What do you feel is most glaringly missing, or is it a nicety that we could add something else? Obviously, given our desire to see everything, but within the constraints we have, is there something here that's glaring to you that you really feel we need to see to do this justice?

11:30 a.m.

Correctional Investigator, Office of the Correctional Investigator

Howard Sapers

As I recall, your itinerary currently does not involve a visit to a women's institution. I think that is probably the largest gap, and the fact that your itinerary also does not take you to the Pacific region is something of interest, because there are some particular challenges in the west that are unique.

One suggestion I would have for the committee is—and again, I do recognize your time constraints, etc.—is that if you have the opportunity for a short second trip to the Pacific region, you could probably accomplish quite a bit because of the way their institutions are clustered. So you would be able to see a treatment centre, a women's facility, and a men's medium security facility all in the same cluster.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Garry Breitkreuz

Can I just interrupt here for a minute? Is the institution at Maple Creek not a women's institution, an aboriginal women's institution, or were you not aware that we are going there?

11:30 a.m.

Director of Investigations, Office of the Correctional Investigator

Nathalie Neault

From an earlier discussion, we were informed just prior to the meeting that you will be visiting Maple Creek. You're absolutely right, sir, it is a women's institution. I think that would be a good portrayal of what is a best practice or working well within the service.

To equally balance that, I think it would as well be very important for the members of this committee to see one of the women's facilities that is definitely more challenged in terms of its infrastructure, the number of women who suffer from severe mental health issues, and the conditions in which they are being maintained. That's why we recommended Nova. Joliette would fit into that as well.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Garry Breitkreuz

Okay.

Mr. Holland, did you have any other questions?

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

No. Well, I do actually have something else—nothing on that specifically.

I guess the last question I'll ask is this. You made some recommendations. We've talked as a committee about contrasting the Canadian experience with examples in other jurisdictions that are worth looking at, where there are best practices to examine. This is not necessarily so that we visit them, but perhaps we might have them come here. We haven't exactly worked out what that would be. Of the three examples that you state there, is there one in particular that stands out that would be worthy of our really delving in to contrast against our own situation?

11:35 a.m.

Correctional Investigator, Office of the Correctional Investigator

Howard Sapers

I'm very intrigued by the experience of Australia's justice prison health service, which is a stand-alone health-providing agency that provides comprehensive health care to those who are involved with that country's, that state's, criminal justice system. The reference to the Nova Scotia model that Ms. Neault spoke of is a proxy for that, where they've actually changed the manner in which they have a relationship—the justice system with the health system—in that province.

The other one that's of interest, I think, is the experience of Ohio. The reason I recommend Ohio to the committee in terms of at least understanding how they got to where they are is that it started off as a result of a riot. The changes started off as a result of a riot where eight inmates and one staff member were killed in a large correctional facility at the beginning of 1993. At the end of 1993 there was a lawsuit brought, which resulted in the court appointing a monitor for five years to ensure access to health care services. The combination of loss of life and litigation that resulted forced some changes in that system. I think that some of the conditions that were in place in Ohio are beginning to develop in our system, and I think we can learn from their experience and get ahead of that curve.

So I think the combination of the administrative and governance changes in Nova Scotia and what's going on in Australia and also the unfortunate experience of our neighbours to the south would be instructive for the committee.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Sorry, I have just one last question, and I meant to ask it with respect to your suggestion on visiting the Pacific and also the suggestion that we visit a women's facility that is more challenged in terms of its infrastructure. Is there a facility in the Pacific that you'd specifically recommend in that regard? I know you were mentioning the Nova institution in the Atlantic, but is there a facility that would represent that well in the Pacific region?

11:35 a.m.

Director of Investigations, Office of the Correctional Investigator

Nathalie Neault

There is a women's institution in every region, and there's one in the Pacific that's called the Fraser Valley Institution. It has some challenges as well. All of them, I would say, except the healing lodge, Maple Creek, are suffering from lack of bed space to accommodate and be able to meet the needs of the special needs women especially. It's one of the better ones, I would say, but visiting Fraser Valley would give you at least some insight into some of those realities.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Thank you.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Garry Breitkreuz

Okay.

Ms. Mourani, you had indicated you wanted to ask some questions.

October 6th, 2009 / 11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good morning. According to our schedule, we will be visiting the regional mental health centre. The main contact person is Ms. Paquette, Warden of the Archambault Institution. Would it not be a better idea to have the head of the regional mental health centre accompany us rather than the head of the whole Archambault Institution?