Evidence of meeting #38 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 offender.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Howard Sapers  Correctional Investigator, Office of the Correctional Investigator
  • Marie-France Kingsley  Director of Investigations, Office of the Correctional Investigator
  • Catherine Kane  Director General and Senior General Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice
  • Elissa Lieff  Director General and Senior General Counsel, Family, Children and Youth Section, Department of Justice

3:45 p.m.

Correctional Investigator, Office of the Correctional Investigator

Howard Sapers

You mean the offenders. As a matter of fact, we have talked from time to time with institutional parole officers about the role they might play. You could contemplate a change, as I said, in the intake process. You could contemplate a change while you're doing release planning. It could very well become part of their routine, particularly if there were a registry where it was clear what the debt obligations were and it was also clear whether or not there was a source of funds to satisfy those debts.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

You mentioned a registry. If I understood correctly, you said it would be quite costly and difficult to set something like that up. Is there no other mechanism, besides a registry, to track all those debts and do things properly? Is that possible?

3:50 p.m.

Correctional Investigator, Office of the Correctional Investigator

Howard Sapers

I'm really uncertain about the most efficient way to do this. I could contemplate a situation whereby debts are registered as they are now. In the offender management system there is the ability to register monetary awards and outstanding debts.

Last year over 2,100 individual entries were made about debts and about $57 million in outstanding obligations. As I understand it, one of those was a single restitution order of $25 million. The rest accounted for the other half.

A mechanism is available, and there's a way to register. Once you collect that information and register it, it's in the administration. What do you do in terms of ensuring the collection, the payment, the forwarding of the funds, the accounting of the funds, etc.?

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

As I understand it, then, there is already a mechanism in place in those institutions that have the ability to manage it more or less.

3:50 p.m.

Correctional Investigator, Office of the Correctional Investigator

Howard Sapers

It's partially in place. It doesn't register the obligations or the payments in the way that's contemplated by this bill.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

Very well. I am not sure whether you can answer this, but what effect do you think this bill will have on inmate behaviour in the institutions? Will it be positive or negative?

3:50 p.m.

Correctional Investigator, Office of the Correctional Investigator

Howard Sapers

That's very highly speculative on my part. I'm not sure I can give you an informed opinion on that.

One of the difficulties I would foresee is that if there were a dispute or a disagreement, it may not be clear that the debt is recognized, or it could be something that has been appealed. So I could see it being a source of conflict or tension if there were a dispute or a disagreement about the amounts involved.

It could also be a factor in whether or not inmates even pursue claims against the crown or whether they prefer out-of-court settlements with secrecy agreements, or whether they go through full legal proceedings where there could be public disclosure.

It could affect things that way.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair Randall Garrison

I will go back to the government side now, and Mr. Leef for seven minutes.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Yukon, YT

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and welcome.

Mr. Sapers, going back to one of the questions Ms. Hoeppner was talking about, you raised an interesting point. I was curious from the bill itself if it would be interpreted the same way, just with respect to the running shoe example or the radio, because I think it's a good point if we're talking about a monetary award being made to an offender. Some of those commonplace things would generate some interesting questions.

Subsection 78(1) of the bill talks about monetary awards made pursuant to a legal action or proceeding against Her Majesty. Would a broken radio or missing running shoes or damage to personal property via a search normally go the course of a legal proceeding or an action, or is it more, I wouldn't say informal, the case that there'd be a formal review of that damage and a determination would be made by CSC that wouldn't exactly constitute a legal action and proceeding?

3:55 p.m.

Correctional Investigator, Office of the Correctional Investigator

Howard Sapers

Under commissioner's directives it is a formal proceeding. It's a claim against the crown where there then could be a grant of compensation or restitution, so it may happen that way under the commissioner's directive, or it could also happen through a court proceeding.

Typically, that's what we're seeing with many claims against the crown. It's around damage or loss of personal property. That's typically what they are and they're typically not very high dollar values.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Yukon, YT

It still begs the question because it would be a monetary award given to them, right?

Sorry, which section was that?

May 8th, 2012 / 3:55 p.m.

Marie-France Kingsley Director of Investigations, Office of the Correctional Investigator

It's under section 234 of the commissioner's directives. Those contain the guidelines of the principles for claims.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Yukon, YT

So your assessment would be that it would constitute a legal action or proceeding under this definition of this proposed bill.

3:55 p.m.

Correctional Investigator, Office of the Correctional Investigator

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Yukon, YT

I'm assuming that the obligation of the CSC, when we're looking at it, would fall under that same proposed section, where it carries on and talks about “pursuant to a legal action or proceeding against Her Majesty in right of Canada, or an agent or employee”, meaning against Her Majesty, an agent, or an employee, which would be the CSC, I guess.

I'm trying to find in here where that burden would shift over to CSC in actually administering the program or the payment structure, because the final subsection 78.1(4) reads:Any amount of the monetary award referred to in subsection (1) that remains after all payments have been made in accordance with subsections (1) to (3) shall be paid to the offender.

What it says to me is that there's an award, a settlement made to the inmate. Then they determine if there's any money owed, either through paragraph 78.1(1)(a), child or spousal support, or (b) as owed pursuant to a restitution order, (c) or a victim surcharge, or (d). Then if there's anything left, it gets paid to the offender.

I'm having a hard time seeing where.... It's not CSC that's cutting the cheque. I brought this up with the last witnesses. The CSC wouldn't be cutting the cheque. I'm not sure CSC would actually be getting the money. It would seem to me that if the inmate is granted a settlement in a court or a proceeding, whether that's a publicly disclosed thing or an out-of-court settlement, whoever actually comes up with the agreement or the settlement would then hold those funds and would also be the ones with the obligation to settle out paragraphs 78.1(1)(a), (b), (c), and (d)—and not CSC.

Maybe I'm interpreting that a little differently from you, but I don't see the money going to CSC first, and then CSC handing it out under (a), (b), (c), and (d). Am I missing something there?