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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

4:10 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

I'd say a couple of things. Each facility has a citizen advisory committee, where we look to hear the local citizens' perspectives. They meet with the inmates on any input they can provide from that particular level or perspective. Certainly in policy formulation, we look to other stakeholders who might have input into some of the areas we're developing. With respect to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, section 74, we also look at policies that will affect major inmate issues.

In terms of victims, there's a lot of contact with victims. There's a national victims advisory committee. Each region has a regional victim advisory committee that gives us input on policies and issues. Bill C-10, again, just expanded the definition of a victim. It would also provide information to victims that they did not receive in the past. That came as a result of considerations and developments through Parliament and with input on policy development.

There is lots of communication with external groups.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Thank you.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Thank you, Mr. Leef.

Mr. Rousseau, you have five minutes.

May 1st, 2012 / 4:10 p.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Toller and Ms. Budgell, welcome.

My first question is for you, Ms. Budgell, since it touches a little more on the application of the legislation. Could the current bill be applied to the situation of a citizen held for a certain period of time, but who we determine was wrongly convicted and who is compensated by the state—and this is very hypothetical—for the time spent in detention? If so, could you talk about that?

4:10 p.m.

Counsel, Department of Justice

Alexandra Budgell

The only comment I would make is that, obviously, so long as he is an offender, he will fit the definition of an offender before the appeal process goes through. Since the bill uses the term “offender”, he would be an offender so long as that appeal process has gone on.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

Could it apply if he had subsequently been wrongly convicted of an offence and compensated by the state for it?

4:10 p.m.

Counsel, Department of Justice

Alexandra Budgell

Of course, that wouldn't be known until after the appeal process has been concluded. So if you were to look at today, would somebody fit the definition of offender? You would say yes or no, depending on the status of the appeal, and then it's only once the appeal process has been concluded that the person is no longer an offender.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

Can you comment on that, Mr. Toller?

4:10 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

No, it's okay.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

All right. This question is for you, Mr. Toller.

Clause 1 of Bill C-350 proposes adding to section 3 the principle according to which the correctional system aims to encourage "the accountability and responsibility of offenders, with a view to ensuring that their obligations to society are addressed."

Does introducing a clause like this impose a new management approach on institutions with respect to human and, particularly, financial resources?

4:10 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

I'd say again that the encouragement factor I've spoken about is often predicated on public safety; it's about fulfilling your obligation. This one here basically puts a stronger emphasis on the financial obligations in terms of payment, so again it would be one of the tools in the tool box that would accentuate the concept of offender accountability.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

I imagine that there should still be interventions by caseworkers already on site. I know people who have worked in the prison setting. They often tell me that there aren't enough psychosocial caseworkers to treat inmates for all kinds of social problems. Shouldn't there be a completely new intervention mechanism for inmates?

4:15 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

If you're referring to mental health considerations, I could say a couple of things there.

We do provide psychological services, with different levels of intervention across the country at five regional treatment centres that are accredited mental health facilities, staffed by a psychiatrist for acute care. For those who with psycho-social rehabilitative types of needs, we have a unit where we have an intermediary mental health unit, where people begin to step down from the acute needs that you would find in a more concentrated type of hospital. We also have a complex needs unit, where we would look at some of the more extreme outliers or self-harmers. So there is an array of tools and responsivity for mental health consideration.

I guess for me the connection of the financial piece in this would depend on exactly what we're talking about. From the mental health perspective, inmates who have money can still be encouraged to accept their levels of responsibility. Sometimes again, depending on the magnitude of what we're talking about, the programming for some of the more acute individuals is as simple as learning to brush their teeth after they eat meals, or learning to wash their hands after they go to the washroom. So it's incremental.

I would also add, too, that we have strong connections with the mental health community upon discharge. Social workers are involved in the treatment centre elements, so that the person's ability to function in the community continues to be supported.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

Would there not be a certain group that might be quite unreceptive to these new measures, since they are imposed by the state?

4:15 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

I would say that again we have to look at each case individually. With some inmates, if there was a financial award, you might have to have mechanisms put in place for their complete understanding, but these are the extreme levels of inmates.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

Do I have any time left?

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Thank you. Your time is right on five minutes.

We'll go back to Ms. Hoeppner.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Thank you.

There are just a couple of things I wanted to go back to, if you could clarify them. You said that 576 inmates owe money for restitution, 1,036 for fines, and 735 for surcharges.

4:15 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

Just to make a small correction, it's 1,136 for fines.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Okay, 1,100.

4:15 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

And there are 725 for surcharges.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

So those are the inmates who, through the OMS, if they are awarded anything, you can compel to pay in those three categories. Is that correct?

4:15 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

We can't compel; we can only encourage and motivate.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

You can't compel. That's the difference.

4:15 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

We would have an awareness.