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 restitution.

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

3:40 p.m.

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

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Portage—Lisgar, MB

I guess we can see right there the obvious necessity for this bill.

I'm sure you're aware that we also heard testimony—and I think we're all aware—that if civilians are mandated to pay child support and they don't, their wages are garnished and there's a process for that. Different provinces have different ways of getting those funds. Unfortunately, with offenders, that isn't the case.

Can you talk a little bit as well about the whole issue of accountability and an offender fulfilling his or her obligation and how that contributes to their rehabilitation in your view?

3:40 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

Sure. One of the foundations of our work is to have offenders accept responsibility and become law-abiding citizens in the future. In cases where we have fines that are outstanding, we do a lot of intake at the front end and basically get material from the courts and the sentencing judges on the crime's impact on victims, for example. When we have that information the parole officers assigned to those inmates actively encourage them to accept their levels of responsibility and to pay the fines that are owing, and to look at their family relationships in cases where they are looking to continue to support family for their obligations.

So anything that basically looks at fulfilling the obligations that have been imposed on them by the courts or by other normal functions of their having to accept their responsibility is pretty well the foundation for a lot of encouragement and active support for inmates.

As well, as far as their needs and plans are concerned, inmates are identified so that they can participate in programs that have been identified as meeting some of their activities. For example, if an inmate comes in who has been unable to demonstrate control of his anger and we determine that he needs need to concentrate on that, the accountability would be on us to provide the tools for him to participate in real terms, in functional terms, in the desire to correct his behaviour so that he can return to....

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Portage—Lisgar, MB

Thank you.

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

We have eight seconds, but we'll give that to Mr. Garrison, because we know he has seven minutes and 10 seconds' worth of questioning.

May 1st, 2012 / 3:40 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to Mr. Toller, and Ms. Budgell, for appearing today.

On this side we voted to bring this bill to committee, because we accept that there is a good principle involved here in encouraging responsibility and accountability. But we have some questions about the mechanisms used in this bill.

Mr. Toller, you said at the end of your remarks, which are quite measured, I would say:

This includes measures that would ensure that offenders assume greater responsibility and accountability

It seems to me that you're saying that Bill C-350 is only one of the tools in rehabilitation, re-insertion, and such. Would you prioritize the other tools that might be available in the toolbox for promoting this, besides this bill?

3:40 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

We look at each case individually in terms of the development of correctional plans for each. In some cases, the control of their violence, for example, might be the activity that we would want to concentrate on first. For others who have less education, the latter might be another area where we would look at developing levels of accountability and responsibility. I think any tool that comes into the toolbox to encourage their acceptance of responsibility is good.

Even internally we have mechanisms in place for expected levels of behaviour. We have offence report considerations. We develop and outline correctional plans, as a result of Bill C-10, for expected behavioural considerations. We expect inmates to participate in the programs we've identified that they need. We expect them to follow the rules and regulations. We expect them not to be disrespectful to staff. We expect them to prepare for their release.

So it's a large toolbox. It's difficult to say whether one tool would take priority over the other, except to say that we manage cases individually by the needs we have identified and the risks they pose.

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

I think you've made an important contribution to our consideration of this, in that the correctional system's understanding of responsibility and accountability isn't limited to financial responsibility and accountability, but to those larger issues you mentioned as part of your presentation.

3:40 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

Absolutely. Our goal here is to contribute to public safety, and whatever mechanisms and means we identify in terms of their needs are exactly what we want to concentrate on.

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

I'm going to presume that Ms. Budgell can comment on the questions I'm about to ask.

We had some concerns about the constitutionality in this bill. I don't know whether your expertise is in that area, but can you make any comments that might help us understand whether this would be constitutional, given the division of federal and provincial responsibilities on property?

3:40 p.m.

Counsel, Department of Justice

Alexandra Budgell

I'm with the CSC legal services, so my area of expertise is really correctional law. It's certainly in that capacity that I'm here to assist the committee today. So unfortunately—

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

I thought I'd try.

The bill seems to be very narrowly focused. In the language you have used about any monetary award from any court, tribunal or agency, would that include out-of-court settlements? Out-of-court settlements are essentially private agreements in law, rather than awards through a tribunal or agency. You mentioned reaching out-of-court settlements a lot of times, so I wonder whether they would actually be covered by this bill.

3:45 p.m.

Counsel, Department of Justice

Alexandra Budgell

Certainly, as Mr. Toller spoke about, there's are a number of types of payments that can be made, such as claims against the crown that would include out-of-court settlements, and then there's more formal litigation, where we'll end up with a court judgment.

Certainly, as the committee and Parliament look at this, I think clarity in terms of the types of awards caught would be ideal from CSC's perspective. So the clearer the language can be in terms of the types of awards that Parliament would like caught....

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

So at minimum you would say that this section, in its current wording, is not entirely clear in terms of which would be caught?

3:45 p.m.

Counsel, Department of Justice

Alexandra Budgell

Well, certainly, formal litigation is what we would understand—