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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 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

That's not our area.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Okay. I think that's fine.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

You have about a minute left.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

I'll give it to the other side.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

We'll go back to Ms. Doré Lefebvre. As much as Mr. Scarpaleggia would like to give it to the other side, it's the NDP's turn.

May 1st, 2012 / 4 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I'd like to thank Ms. Budgell and Mr. Toller for being here to answer our questions about Bill C-350.

Some of these proposals are interesting, especially the idea of support for victims.

I am also interested in offender rehabilitation. A few weeks ago, I met with a prison warden who explained to me that he worked with rehabilitation a lot. He told me that such a person could live two houses down from me and that he wanted that person to become a good citizen again and the person not to be a danger to the community anymore. We also work a lot with rehabilitation in Quebec.

I noted in your remarks, at the end of your presentation, that you spoke about gaining the skills the offenders would need to change their criminal behaviour. How could we apply skills acquisition to this type of bill or to this way of doing things? Would there be a way to implement Bill C-350, or the provisions it contains, while making offenders accountable and, perhaps, getting them involved in the process?

4 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

Thank you. I would like to answer in English, if I may. My French isn't very good.

It's a very interesting question. Per some of the comments that have been made here before, the financial piece on accountability or responsibility is but one of the tools in the complete toolbox. So would it be reasonable for our staff, for example, if you look...? I'll just use the victim surcharge piece here. In cases where we have that, and in cases where it hasn't been waived by the courts, a lot of discussions would take place at the front end with the staff who are involved about accepting that level of responsibility in preparing inmates for the community.

Along with everything that goes with getting your education, learning employment skills, looking at who you associate with, getting out of a gang, looking at the needs that might have got you here in the first place, if you have substance abuse issues, if you have anger management issues, if you have anything along those lines, it's quite common for us to start planning their return to the community literally from day one. That includes those members of the family where there is a support system. Those support systems are out there in different points of view.

Again, from my perspective, when they have outstanding commitments that are owed, no matter in which fashion, there will always be encouragement for them to accept what they owe and to accept what their obligations are to society in the fashion that makes them responsible.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

So this would be part of a tool box that might be helpful for reintegrating into society. And we could show them that it involves everyday obligations, like paying their bills.

How would the offenders see this way of doing things? What's the impact on the inmates' behaviour? Do you think the impact would be positive or negative? How would the offenders see this?

4:05 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

Initially you may get some reaction from those who don't have the desire to change their behaviour or don't wish to accept the levels of accountability that it's probably detrimental, from their point of view. At the same time, all of our work is about encouraging and persuading them of their accountability and responsibility. This is what our role is all about. So to me, inmates who feel that way are no different from some of the inmates we who basically say, “We're not looking to participate in programs”.

The legislation that has just passed, Bill C-10, gives us another set of tools for looking at offenders who are engaged or non-engaged in their plans so that we can address them in a different fashion. So we're looking to encourage those inmates who are motivated and have the desire to fulfill their obligations, as bestowed upon them by the courts.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Thank you very much, Mr. Toller.

We'll now move to Mr. Leef, please, for five minutes.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, both, for coming today.

I won't go too far down the road on that constitutionality issue. I just have a quick question about citizenship.

When inmates are held in federal prisons, obviously in a provincial jurisdiction, do they take on the residency of that province? Are they residents of that province? Are they bound by provincial requirements? I'm from the Yukon. Does any federal inmate who leaves the territory and goes the British Columbia, for example, become a citizen of British Columbia? How does that aspect work?

4:05 p.m.

Counsel, Department of Justice

Alexandra Budgell

I think it would depend on the context.

4:05 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

Different medical provisions, for example, are administered by the province. If you're a resident of British Columbia but are residing in Ontario, the health care regulations for Ontario would apply. I probably need a little bit more specificity about the—

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

We'd be looking at whether, provincially, you're bound to obligations to pay child support and those sorts of things, when you're now held in a federal institution and could be moved all over the country. How would you be bound by provincial regulations, as you transfer from institution to institution, and not by federal guidelines for this payment?

I know that you've already addressed the fact that you're not dealing with constitutional law. But from a basic perspective, I was wondering what citizenship inmates take on as they move from province to province within a federal institution. Or do they basically have national citizenship versus provincial?

4:05 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

I think we'd have to go back to our constitutionality answer.

4:05 p.m.

Counsel, Department of Justice

Alexandra Budgell

I would say that it would really depend on the particulars of that issue.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Okay.

I'll change pace, then, a bit. Do you have any idea of how many inmates might possibly have financial obligations for spousal and child support, legal restitution orders, or victim surcharge orders?

4:05 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

Some of them I do. I mentioned those that come to us through the court system. Right now, the total number of restitution orders we have in our system is 576. Fines, which I understand are not quite part of the proposal here, are at 1,136. And surcharges are at 725. Now, there could be a double count there, but those are the numbers that show up in our system relative to those areas.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Are those outstanding, or are those just on...?

4:05 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

These are ones on the system that we've recorded and will show up.

You mentioned the family systems. We are currently revamping our offender management system, as a result of Bill C-10, to add that particular segment. But again, at this point in time, we couldn't give you any data on that in terms of the numbers. It's not captured.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Okay.

When looking at those raw numbers—the 576 for restitution, the 1,136 for fines, and the 725 for surcharges—you'd have a rough idea of how successful your encouragement of accountability is through case management. If you look at the numbers, in terms of their paying and taking accountability, how successful is your encouragement of accountability, based on those numbers you've provided?

4:10 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

What I don't have is whether there are ones on there that have satisfied the orders that have come on. It would be really difficult for me to make a comment on that specifically.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Okay.

What role right now do family groups and victims groups play in the operation, policy development, day-to-day life, and engagement in the institutions across Canada?

4:10 p.m.

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

Ross Toller

Do you mean family groups of inmates?

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

No, I mean family groups outside, not of inmates. What role do family groups and victims organizations play, or how substantial is that role, in terms of policy development or institutional operations from locale to locale across Canada? How significant are they, in terms of the CSC working with them?