Evidence of meeting #36 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 victims.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Ross Toller  Deputy Commissioner, Transformation and Renewal Team, Correctional Service of Canada
  • Alexandra Budgell  Counsel, Department of Justice
  • Susan O'Sullivan  Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Maybe this has been asked, but do you actively scan the departments? Do you have a mechanism for trying to find this out from federal departments?

3:55 p.m.

Deputy Commissioner, Transformation and Renewal Team, Correctional Service of Canada

Ross Toller

No, we don't.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Do you foresee creating one, or is it just too complex?

3:55 p.m.

Deputy Commissioner, Transformation and Renewal Team, Correctional Service of Canada

Ross Toller

Well, as I look at the intent of this bill, if it becomes law and the clarity that is sought is such that it would include awards from other government departments, we would without question have to seek that.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

When it comes to awards that are brought to your attention, not from your department but from other departments or within provincial jurisdiction, you say that it tends to be a random occurrence. You find out from someone through the grapevine and you look into it. In other words, there's no systematic way of informing you. It's somewhat random.

Hopefully this does not pose a problem, in the sense that someone could argue that not all inmates are treated the same when it comes to this law; some will be caught, and some won't. I don't imagine that's a problem, but maybe you have some insight on that.

3:55 p.m.

Deputy Commissioner, Transformation and Renewal Team, Correctional Service of Canada

Ross Toller

Again, just to have clarity, for cases where there's a criminal conviction, for example inmate X is given a three-year sentence plus a restitution order of x number of dollars, when that information comes to us we would document it.

We have no ability at this point to say that they will pay. The mechanisms we would look to gain that acceptance of accountability and responsibility are counselling, the involvement of our parole officer staff, and the involvement of others who would work with the inmate to encourage them to accept their levels of responsibility.

In cases of civil court right now...as I say, if I take a family court situation with a child award, we have no mechanisms where that would come to our attention. It would be more by the inmate mentioning that he owes money for child support.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

What I'm saying is that some people would be caught; some wouldn't.

3:55 p.m.

Counsel, Department of Justice

Alexandra Budgell

If you would like me to jump in, is this in terms of the monetary awards that an offender would receive?

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Or in terms of garnishing these monetary awards. It's basically in terms of getting your hands on the monetary awards so that you can pay the spouse.

Some would be caught and have their awards garnished; some who are maybe a little more circumspect, or whatever, would not be caught. I assume it wouldn't really be a level playing field.

Do you see that as a problem at all, or is it fine, and—?

3:55 p.m.

Counsel, Department of Justice

Alexandra Budgell

As we understand it, these would be awards against Her Majesty in right of Canada, meaning the federal government. It would be the one making the monetary award. Obviously in many cases CSC would be aware of that.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Systematically you would know.

3:55 p.m.

Counsel, Department of Justice

Alexandra Budgell

We would be aware of those, and then for other government departments, presumably arrangements could be made to determine those.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

There's one part of the bill that apparently generated some controversy when it was before a committee, I think in the last Parliament. It had to do with setting up priority rankings for distributing funds. The committee researcher at the time, Michel Bédard, said:...I have doubts as to the federal government's power to pass provisions of this kind. It is important to understand that, according to the division of powers...property and civil rights fall within provincial jurisdiction. ...the provinces have jurisdiction over contracts and all private law, including debt priority ranking.

According to your understanding, has this been resolved? Since you're going to be garnishing the money and distributing it according to a debt priority ranking, do you feel comfortable that this issue has been resolved and that you can go ahead and follow the debt priority ranking in the bill?

4 p.m.

Counsel, Department of Justice

Alexandra Budgell

Again, my area of expertise is correctional law, so unfortunately I can't speak to that. Thanks.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

I understand.

I have another question that you maybe won't be able to answer. In the debt priority ranking, it says that the first obligation that must be paid by the offender is with respect to spousal or child support, etc., and it goes down the list. If there's any money left at the end, it goes to the offender.

In your view, is there any problem in saying that if there is any money left, it goes to the offender's dependants? This could be over and above a child support order. Do you think there would be any problem with amending the bill to do that?

Again, it may not be your area of expertise.