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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 offender.

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

3:55 p.m.

Director General, Rights, Redress and Resolution, Correctional Service of Canada

Michael Côté

That's correct.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Okay.

Do you keep statistics as to how many of these complaints and grievances are successful? By successful, I mean that the filer has received some sort of satisfaction and that the commission has done something to remedy the alleged complaint or grievance. Do you keep those stats?

3:55 p.m.

Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Don Head

Yes.

We have stats for all the levels, but I'll give you an example of the third level, which is my level or that of my delegate, who is the senior deputy commissioner.

At the third level, 32% of the grievances that came to the third level are either upheld or upheld in part. Actually, the vast majority of those are upheld in part. They're usually upheld in part because the timelines at the lower levels were not met and the inmate has made that part of the grievance. We end up upholding the fact that they had a late response.

But 55% of those that come to the third level are denied, and some 20% are rejected for various reasons.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

How does this system overlap or interact with the office of Mr. Howard Sapers, the Correctional Investigator? I've always been of the view that it was his job to investigate complaints against the service.

4 p.m.

Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Don Head

He can investigate basically anything he wants. He may get complaints from inmates directly that do not come through either our complaints or grievance system.

That's why if you try to compare numbers in his annual report with our statistics, they will never match. He's dealing with the complaints that come in; under the law, though, my staff and I are responsible for responding to the grievances of offenders. He's responsible for responding to complaints that come directly to his office.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Do I have any more time?

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

You have 30 seconds.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Thank you very much.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

We'll now move back to Mr. Scarpaleggia, please, for seven minutes.

March 27th, 2012 / 4 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Thank you.

Welcome again, Commissioner and guests.

Is there an external review committee as well?

4 p.m.

Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Don Head

There is the opportunity under the regulations for a grievance to be referred to an inmate grievance committee. Right now, we only have six active in our 54 institutions. As for an outside review board, which is sometimes made up of citizens advisory committee members, there are only nine that are active in the 54 institutions we have across the country.

The inmates are not asking for them to be referred to the inmate grievance committee or to the outside review board.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

It's up to the inmate to decide whether he or she wants to take this complaint either to an inmate review board or an external committee--is that right?

4 p.m.

Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Don Head

For the most part it is, yes.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Of the 25 inmates who are filing 100 or more complaints, is that—

4 p.m.

Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Don Head

That number includes complaints and grievances.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Is it grievances as well?

What percentage of them would you say are from perhaps psychologically distressed or mentally ill inmates who are not doing this for fun, if you will?

4 p.m.

Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Don Head

Based on the current cohort of 25 we're talking about, we didn't find anything on their files that suggested that any of them had significant mental health problems.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

There were no mental health issues with these people?

4 p.m.

Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Don Head

No. There may be some minor mental health issues, but they're not showing up as acute mental health cases.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Okay.

Given the large number of complaints and/or grievances from each of these 25, would the complaints all tend to be similar for each individual?

How many complaints can you possibly have? Would it be something like “My dinner is too late” or “My dinner is too cold”? Someone mentioned a possibility I hadn't thought of, that maybe their medications—insulin, for example—were not arriving on time.

The range of potential complaints and grievances must be fairly limited, I would think.

4 p.m.

Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Don Head

Actually, you'd be surprised at what people can complain about.

I think a member of this committee used an example of somebody complaining in the past about their ice cream being too cold. That was a real complaint. We've had complaints in which individuals have said that their egg was too small.

You know, when you have 24 hours of time on your hands in a day, it's amazing what people will come up with.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

There's a wide range for each of those complainants.

4 p.m.

Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Don Head

Yes, and again without trivializing all of them, some legitimate complaints and grievances come forward. We're obviously always concerned, and that's why we prioritize or make urgent things around life, liberty, and safety issues.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

How would you investigate a complaint like “my egg is too small”?

4 p.m.

Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Don Head

Other than having the egg produced, we would look at the menu for the day. We'd look at the quantity of eggs that were produced, realizing that chicken eggs come in varying sizes in the carton that you and I buy, and there's a chance his egg was a little smaller than Mr. Côté's or Mr. Dalton's who are next to him. At the end of the day, that may have been the luck of the draw. Those are sometimes simple to resolve by saying not much can be done about that, but because of the way the law is written right now, when we give the answer back to the offender saying we can't do anything about it, the meal met the dietary requirements, etc., he can be unhappy with that answer and then immediately file a second-level grievance.