Evidence of meeting #80 for Status of Women in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was communities.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Anne Kelly  Senior Deputy Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada
Suzanne Brisebois  Director General, Policy and Operations, Parole Board of Canada
Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Marie-Hélène Sauvé
Angela Connidis  Director General, Crime Prevention, Corrections and Criminal Justice Directorate, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Michelle Van De Bogart  Regional Director General, Ontario, Parole Board of Canada

November 28th, 2017 / 12:05 p.m.


Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Thank you, Chair.

My questions are for the Correctional Service, but thanks to all the witnesses for being here.

I'm going to run through a couple of outside reports about how we're doing in Canada around the conditions indigenous women receive.

The Native Women's Association of Canada in August of this year said:

not only do federally-sentenced indigenous women not have access to adequate programs and services while imprisoned, but the programs that do exist are neither culturally appropriate, nor geared towards reintegration.

Members of the Elizabeth Fry society visiting this fall the Edmonton Institution for Women were shocked at the very invasive searches, asking indigenous women to lift their breasts and spread their cheeks. For victims of sexual assault and abuse, that was particularly triggering.

The correctional investigator, Ivan Zinger, reported this year that indigenous women remain in segregation nearly nine days, while non-indigenous women spent an average of 6.3 days in solitary confinement, in segregation.

Then a year ago, a United Nations committee recommended that Canada abolish the practice of solitary confinement, and “effectively limit the use of administrative or disciplinary segregation as a measure of last resort for as short a time as possible” and avoid such measures for women with serious mental illness.

Given that we have a lot of concerns about what's happening right now, and I recognize that you can't affect the number of women who come into the institution, can you give the committee reassurance that you're actively working on these outside critiques?

12:10 p.m.

Senior Deputy Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Anne Kelly

I'll start and then turn it over to Dr. Blanchette.

Absolutely we are. In terms of the programs, the programs that have been developed for women are holistic. They are women-centered. The elder or spiritual advisers participate in the delivery of those programs. We have had recent research that indicates the programs are effective. The women who complete the programs are more likely to get discretionary release.

In terms of admin segregation, we've done a lot of work around admin seg for men and for women. At this point, as of October 15, 2017, there were two women offenders in custody in federal institutions who were on administrative segregation.

The other thing we've done is we've amended our policies that restrict segregation to certain offenders. Inmates with a serious mental illness with significant impairment, inmates who are certified, inmates actively engaging in self-injury that is deemed likely to result in serious bodily harm, will not be admitted to seg. Under exceptional circumstances, we have others who may be admitted to seg, but they have to be reviewed within one day, and it can't exceed the first working day review.

Again, in the realm of admin seg, lots of work has been done as well.

Maybe I'll turn it over to—

12:10 p.m.


Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Would you be able to table those reports for the committee so that we can see that work?

12:10 p.m.

Senior Deputy Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Anne Kelly


What I just outlined in terms of administrative segregation is in our commissioner's directives, so I'll be happy to provide it.

12:10 p.m.


The Vice-Chair Liberal Pam Damoff

Ms. Kelly, I let you go an extra minute over time, so perhaps if there's additional information, you could provide it to us.

Thank you very much for your testimony, all of you.

I'm going to suspend for about two minutes while we set up for Dr. Zinger and Ms. Kingsley.

12:10 p.m.


The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Committee members, because of the fire alarm, we have decided to postpone today's meeting because this could take up to half an hour. We will request her to come back.

The meeting is adjourned.