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 restitution.

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

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Thank you. Nor is it mine.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair Randall Garrison

Thank you, Mr. Rathgeber.

We'll turn to the opposition side.

Madame Doré Lefebvre, for seven minutes.

May 8th, 2012 / 4:25 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would also like to thank Ms. Kane and Ms. Lieff for being with us today to discuss Bill C-350.

I have many questions about the constitutional side of all this, but I have to restrain myself.

I am going to ask you the following questions right off the bat. Do you find this bill too vague? Does it have flaws?

4:25 p.m.

Director General and Senior General Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice

Catherine Kane

As I noted, there are some questions that the bill raises for me, but I think I'd have to agree with Mr. Sapers that the Correctional Service of Canada is capable of giving meaning to the bill and of implementing the spirit of the bill. So it's certainly possible for them to interpret it and make it work.

There may always be improvements that the committee may be considering in terms of clarity, but that's for your committee to determine.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

Ms. Lieff, would you like to comment on the clarity of the bill?

4:25 p.m.

Director General and Senior General Counsel, Family, Children and Youth Section, Department of Justice

Elissa Lieff

I would agree with my colleague.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

Very well.

You said the bill raises some questions. Could you tell us which ones?

4:25 p.m.

Director General and Senior General Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice

Catherine Kane

As with a lot of legislation, it's always in the details as to how it's going to be administered. When I would look at it, not being an expert in correctional law as Mr. Sapers or others would be, I wondered how these payments would actually be made. How would the Correctional Service of Canada make the payment? How would they know to whom they were to make the payment, because a recipient of a restitution order would be a victim of crime? The victim would have to be made aware that they could advise the Correctional Service of Canada that they had an amount owing and Correctional Service of Canada would have to find some mechanism to track that payment.

I'm familiar with Mr. Toller's testimony of last week, when he was indicating that they have an offender management system that does some of that, but maybe there's a need for more details about how that would be accomplished.

With respect to surcharge orders, those would be owed to a province. A province would also have a mechanism, or vice versa, the Correctional Service of Canada would have to be aware that a particular province hadn't received a surcharge amount owing and ensure that it would be able to pay them that amount out of an amount that the crown would be paying to the offender.

These are small details, but as I said, without any of those changes the bill should be administrable in the spirit that the sponsor intended.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

You said that in order to administer a bill of this nature, mechanisms would need to be put in place at both the provincial and the federal levels.

4:30 p.m.

Director General and Senior General Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice

Catherine Kane

No. I wouldn't suggest that we would have to put in place mechanisms. There would need to be some information sharing so that once this bill were proclaimed into force, provinces would be aware that they might be able to advise the Correctional Service of Canada about standing surcharge orders so that the Correctional Service of Canada could then remit the money to the province to which it is owed in appropriate cases.

Similarly, information would have to be provided to victims of crime who had received restitution orders so they could have that reciprocal sharing of information.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Sapers was here earlier and he said that, in his opinion, the mechanism that could be put in place would be a registry making it possible to keep track of all the information. He also felt that managing that information would be quite complex and perhaps costly.

Would you care to comment on the idea?

4:30 p.m.

Director General and Senior General Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice

Catherine Kane

I think that my colleagues from the Correctional Service of Canada would be best placed to indicate how onerous that would be. I do recall that Mr. Toller made some comments about adjustments to the offender management system that might be required to make this work to the fullest extent possible.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

Do you think a registry would be the best solution in terms of managing this information? It could list who an inmate's creditors were, for instance. Should something like that be put in place?

4:30 p.m.

Director General and Senior General Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice

Catherine Kane

Again, I think the Correctional Service of Canada, which already manages some of the debts owed by offenders, would be in a better place to indicate what else it needs to do. My understanding is that it already has something in the way of a register or an offender management system that keeps track of some of those obligations of offenders. They might simply have to adjust that to take into account these other requirements to pay out, as well as the appropriate priorities.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

Ms. Lieff, I see you have more expertise in family, children and youth issues. At the federal level, is the payment of support obligations by inmates a serious problem?