Evidence of meeting #84 for Public Safety and National Security in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was funding.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Malcolm Brown  Deputy Minister, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Gilles Michaud  Deputy Commissioner, Federal Policing, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Anne Kelly  Senior Deputy Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada
Peter Hill  Associate Vice-President, Programs Branch, Canada Border Services Agency

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Dubé, we need legislation. We need regulations. We need an entirely redesigned IT system, because this one was put together backwards, in my opinion, about seven or eight years ago, and it will cost money.

They are not in these estimates, but as I said before to Mr. Mott, estimates come before the House on a regular basis, and when we're in a position to put an actual figure on it—and I won't comment on the media speculation about what the number is—we'll get there. The objective is to have an interactive system, so that when a false positive occurs once, a person will get a clearance number and be able to use that number to avoid the problem in future airline travel.

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Thank you, Mr. Dubé.

Thank you, Minister.

Mr. Picard, you have seven minutes.

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good morning, Minister and colleagues.

As you know, we are conducting a study on the prevalence of first nations in the correctional system. In fact, the percentage of first nations people within that system is alarming. The comments that were shared with us in the first meetings of the committee on this matter were very concerning. I am thinking, among other things, about the growing number of first nations members in the correctional system, and about the challenges to be overcome. Mr. Zinger said that there were solutions but that they were difficult to implement because of the numbers.

I would like you to talk to us about the department's initiatives with regard to first nations members in the correctional system.

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Picard, thank you. This is an issue that goes right back to the mandate letter that I and a number of other ministers received about finding better solutions for dealing with the experiences of indigenous people in the criminal justice system. When you look at the numbers in the federal correctional system, while indigenous people make up 4% to 5% of the general population of Canada, they make up about 27% of the people who are incarcerated in the federal system and, I think, over 35% in the case of women. It's a serious problem.

The correctional system cannot deal with the intake of indigenous people. That's up to those who take previous steps in the judicial process, and my colleagues the Attorney General and Ministers Bennett and Philpott are focused on those issues. However, once a person arrives in the correctional system, the objective is to try our best to work with them and prepare them for a successful release from the system. Of course, the vast majority of people emerge from the system at some point. The critical question for public safety is whether they are ready and prepared to take up productive lives without further offending.

This funding that was identified in the budget—about $110 million altogether—is intended to address the pre-release preparation for indigenous people, to make sure they have opportunities that are culturally appropriate to rehabilitate themselves and to get ready for their release in ways that make sense from their cultural perspective. Part of the money, as well, is to ensure that once release has happened and they have an opportunity for parole, they have access to the services and the support systems at that point to make sure the release is successful and that they don't find themselves reoffending and back in the system once again.

The correctional investigator has looked at the statistics and concluded that generally speaking we do a better job of that process for non-aboriginal people than for aboriginal people. The investment that was announced in the last budget, consistent with the mandate letter, was intended to try to enhance our capacity to deal more effectively with indigenous offenders so that they can be rehabilitated more successfully, released appropriately, and can then have the kinds of experiences in their parole period that will ensure they are not in a position to reoffend.

9:20 a.m.

Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

It has been a very busy year for public safety. We've had to deal with pre-clearance, entries and exits, as well as a national security framework for Canada. A lot of efforts are being made to strengthen that framework. Generally speaking, the comments we hear refer to fears about the lack of surveillance. This led to the creation of a super SIRC, or SIRC on steroids. We want more specifics about the nature of this new surveillance organization and its scope. We want to know how it will fill certain important gaps in our national security.

9:20 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

I will, and let me first of all, Monsieur Picard, congratulate Parliament and this committee specifically—there were a few different players before—which did the heavy lifting on Bill C-22. We now have the new committee of parliamentarians, which has passed through all stages in Parliament, and Monday the announcement was made regarding the formation of the committee and the members of Parliament and Senate who will be participating in the committee, a brand new aspect of Canada's national security and intelligence infrastructure in place for the first time.

In addition to that, we now have Bill C-59, which you referred to, Monsieur Picard, which again enhances our national security and intelligence architecture. It clarifies a number of the powers and authorities of various agencies, including CSIS. There had been reports from the Federal Court, from commissions of inquiry, from the Security Intelligence Review Committee, and from others saying that there were doubts or ambiguities in the authorities of our various agencies, which needed to be clarified. In a field like national security, you don't want a lot of grey areas, so the law, the new proposal in Bill C-59, brings that clarity in a number of areas with respect to what our agencies can and cannot do. It also establishes new review and oversight mechanisms, including two things in particular. It's an elaborate—

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Minister, you're going to have to get to those two things in another question, because Mr. Picard's time is up.

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

I'll be glad to do it.

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Madam Leitch, you have five minutes.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Thank you very much.

As I think has been expressed already, we all share our condolences with the family of Constable Davidson.

Minister Goodale, my questions will focus on drug-related issues. In the estimates, they're seeking $20 million for drug-impaired driving. What percentage of this is being directed specifically to front-line officers so that they can deal with this issue?

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

We can get you the exact breakdown, Ms. Leitch.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

That's fine.

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

There are just two or three elements that I would summarize.

Training is part of it for field sobriety officers and for drug recognition experts. We need to train more of them to be in the system, and we're looking, roughly speaking, to double the number of those across the country today, so training is part of it.

Another key part of it is investing in the equipment, the roadside testing equipment, which is new. We need to acquire that equipment so it's available to police officers in the field.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Also, a line in that $20 million is $1.4 million for administration. I'd like to ask why that's not being placed with front-line workers? What is it being utilized for?

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

I'm sure our officials can describe the—

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

That would be officials—

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

—the administrative.... But you obviously do need at least a little bit of the funding to run the program.

November 9th, 2017 / 9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Now, I think we all know that this is a serious issue. To your point, Minister, whether it is for research, appropriate training for front-line workers, or the equipment they need to do their jobs, could you please table that?

Another item that's been raised is the number of new officers—about 6,000, I understand. Some of that training is potentially going to be done in the United States. I'm not sure if it's not available in Canada, but when you do the breakdown of the numbers, it's about $25 per day for a 100-day course. I can do math—not like how the Minister of Finance seemed to think the member from Milton couldn't—and the fact of the matter is that I don't think we can train our officers to do exactly what we need them to do for $25 a day. I'm not really sure how we got to that number based on training 6,000 individuals.

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Ms. Leitch, as I've said in response to other questions, not all of our financial asks are in these estimates, and there will be further estimates coming forward. The total commitment we've announced so far in support of Bill C-45 and Bill C-46 is for $274 million. At this stage, about $161 million is focused on needs with respect to Bill C-46. This is the first instalment. There will be more.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

We look forward to you tabling all of those so that we have an idea of how you are supporting the RCMP and our front-line workers.

My other question has to do with cannabis and its relationship to Bill C-45. We know that the importation and exportation of cannabis in the past was illegal. In the new legislation, it's still illegal.

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Absolutely.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

What is the purpose of the over $3 million to deal with this issue in the current supplementary estimates if the law hasn't changed?

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Various analysts, including the Auditor General, have from time to time pointed to the need to improve our interdiction capacity at the border. There have been several comments made by the Auditor General in that regard.

As you know, in Bill C-37 we've also given the new authority to intensify inspections. Previously, inspections applied to items that were over 30 grams. Now we have the capacity to inspect items under 30 grams.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

I have one more question.

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Let me just say, that's where the fentanyl comes in, because a pack of 30 grams contains enough opioid to kill 15,000 people.