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.