Evidence of meeting #32 for Public Safety and National Security in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was complaints.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Don Head  Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada
  • Michael Côté  Director General, Rights, Redress and Resolution, Correctional Service of Canada
  • Shane Dalton  Acting Analyst, Offender Redress , Correctional Service of Canada

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have a supplemental question. I was wondering if you could tell me if there exists such a thing as a cellblock lawyer, or individuals who file grievances on behalf of other inmates. Is that a phenomenon you're familiar with?

4:50 p.m.

Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Don Head

Yes, there are jailhouse lawyers, cellblock lawyers. There are individuals who are like that. Some profess to know things but are not really helpful. There are others who have some training and who actually teach certain individuals how to present a complaint or a grievance in a legitimate way.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Was that part of the problem with some of these individuals who have been identified as vexatious complainants? Are some of them relying on the advice of others who, in an attempt to be progressive or disruptive, take matters on that have no merit? Is that part of the problem?

4:50 p.m.

Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Don Head

There may be some of those, but most of the individuals we know are acting on their own behalf.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

The bill only talks about complainants. It doesn't talk about individuals acting for other complainants. But you don't see that as a problem....

4:50 p.m.

Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Don Head

No, there are a few individuals who get involved in those kinds of things, but the 25 we're talking about act on their own volition.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

I understand Mr. Aspin has a question.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Aspin Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Thank you.

Mr. Head, in your deputation you mentioned that $3.8 million was dedicated to salaries for grievance analysts, and this year it was something in excess of $5 million. You go on to say that should Bill C-293 come into force, you believe it would be much easier for CSC to identify and manage these offenders. Could you estimate what kinds of savings would be involved?

4:50 p.m.

Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Don Head

For those 25 we're talking about right now, we estimate anywhere between a quarter million to a half million dollars in savings.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Aspin Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

So that's just one portion?

4:55 p.m.

Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Aspin Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

What would this be in total?

4:55 p.m.

Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Don Head

We haven't costed all of that out. Part of the problem with trying to do an expanded cost is that because we have the alternative dispute resolution process going on, if we realize some savings and I give you a number now, it might be different in the future. We focused on the 25 individuals who are filing more than 100 grievances a year, and we're able to say that, based on those individuals, we don't think the alternative dispute resolution process is going to have an impact on them. Therefore, the cost savings is between a quarter million and half a million dollars.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Aspin Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

This alternative dispute resolution process, is it to partially offset difficulties in this area?

4:55 p.m.

Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Don Head

Yes, in part. It's meant to help us out with our overall grievance system. We want to be more timely, more expeditious in giving responses. We want to find solutions at the lowest level possible, as opposed to the present system in which they come up to the second and third levels. For these 25, those individuals we call hard-core grievers, I'm not convinced that the alternative dispute resolution process will have any impact at all.