This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #233 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendments.

Topics

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 28th, 1999 / 12:05 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I wish to present petitions on behalf of the urban native housing groups within Ontario and a number of people who are in urban native housing who are extremely concerned over the government's devolution of urban native housing to the province.

The petitioners want to bring attention to the fact that the government is reneging on its fiduciary responsibility to aboriginal people.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Reform South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to present three petitions. The first petition is from my constituents and others in British Columbia.

Because of poor decision making by the government, which often disrupts the peaceful nature of Canadian society and financially encumbers the average Canadian, the petitioners call upon parliament to enact legislation that gives voting Canadian citizens a citizen initiative referendum system by which they can vote on major issues that may affect the well-being of the nation.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Reform South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition concerns the definition of marriage.

The petitioners pray that parliament enact legislation, such as Bill C-225, so as to define in statute that a marriage can only be entered between a single male and a single female.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Reform South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, my third petition concerns the Nisga'a treaty which has been proposed and supported by the provincial and federal governments.

The petitioners pray and request parliament to reject the Nisga'a treaty as it may divide Canadians forever. I honourably submit these petition on behalf of my constituents.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to present a petition that requests parliament support the immediate initiation and conclusion by the year 2000 of an international convention that will set out a binding timetable for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, they just keep pouring in. I have another 60 names on a petition that says that the government should take action on providing fair tax benefits for families who chose to have one of the parents stay at home and raise their own children instead of having others raise them.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the next petition has to do with divorce and access to parents and grandparents.

The petitioners, mostly from my riding, are asking that the access be increased.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the last petition I am presenting is from petitioners mainly in my riding but also from Edmonton, a suburb of Sherwood Park.

Forty-one petitioners are asking for parliament to enact legislation to define in statute that a marriage can only be entered into between a single male and a single female.

It is a very fine petition and I am proud to present it.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I present a petition from many hundreds of Canadians in my riding who are concerned about the continuing threat that is posed by nuclear weapons, both to the health and survival of human civilization and to the global environment.

The petitioners request that parliament support the immediate initiation and conclusion by the year 2000 of an international convention which will set out a binding timetable for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to present a second petition signed by many Canadians with respect to the concept of marriage as being the voluntary union of a single, unmarried male and a single, unmarried female.

The petitioners urge that parliament enact legislation such as Bill C-225 so as to define in statute that a marriage can only be entered into between a single male and a single female.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Reform Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of over 400 Manitobans who pray that parliament will take the necessary measures to ensure that the possession of child pornography remains a serious criminal offence.

The petitioners pray that federal police forces be directed to give priority to enforcing this law for the protection of our children.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, today we will answer Questions Nos. 204, 207 and 228. .[Text]

Question No. 204—

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Eric C. Lowther Reform Calgary Centre, AB

With respect to Chapter 17—National Parole Board—of the 1994 report of the Auditor General of Canada: ( a ) what measures of performance has the National Parole Board, NPB, adopted, as recommended in paragraph 17.68 of the above report; ( b ) has the NPB developed any of the performance measures suggested by the auditor general in paragraph 17.65 of the above report, and specifically, has the NPB developed any performance measures which can indicate; (i) recidivism rates for the first year after release; (ii) recidivism rates by type of revocation; (iii) recidivism rates by category of offender; (iv) recidivism rates by region; (v) recidivism rates for cases where the NPB releases an offender though the Correctional Service has not recommended release; (vi) the number of violent crimes committed while offenders are on release; (vii) the number of successful completions of release; and ( c ) if any of the above performance measurements were not developed, please state the reasons why they have not been developed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor general of Canada

The National Parole Board has responded to Chapter 17 of the 1994 report of the Auditor General of Canada regarding performance measurement as follows:

(a) The National Parole Board has established a performance measurement regime to ensure that management has the information required to monitor and assess its performance. The key component of this regime over the last three years has been the annual statistics package. This package provides detailed information on the performance of the board's conditional release and pardons and clemency programs over a five year period. As well, this package currently includes over 650 tables of statistical information on everything from crime in Canada and offender population to more specific information on parole grant rates, parole and statutory release success rates and charges for serious offences. This information is also included in other publications such as the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics' annual report on adult correctional services in Canada and the Department of the Solicitor General Canada's annual statistical overview on corrections and conditional release. The board is developing a new statistical information retrieval system, SIRS, which is scheduled to be available on the Intranet by the fall of 1999. In addition to the annual statistics package, the board also produces two yearly performance monitoring reports that identify developing trends and possible areas for improvement.

(b) The National Parole Board has developed most of the performance measures suggested in paragraph 17.65 of the 1994 report of the auditor general. Specifically, the board now measures:

(i) See (c) (i).

(ii) Recidivism rates by type of revocation;

The success tables present the information based on the four ways that conditional release supervision periods end;

Successful completion—releases in which the offender remains under supervision in the community from release date to the end of the period of supervision—warrant expiry date for full parole and statutory release;

Revocations for breach of conditions—these revocations have been defined as positive interventions to reduce risk to the community in that the offender is removed from the community to prevent recidivism;

Revocation with non-violent offence—any conditional release that results in revocation for a new non-violent offence—recidivism;

Revocation with violent offence—any conditional release that results in revocation for a new violent offence—recidivism.

(iii) Recidivism rate by category of offender.

(iv) Recidivism rate by region.

(v) See (c) (v).

(vi) Violent crimes committed while offenders are on release—the board measures charges for serious offences by offence type, for example, murder, sexual assault, major assault, robbery, et cetera, by release type—day parole, full parole or statutory release—and by region.

(c) (i) The board does not specifically measure the recidivism rate for the first year after release. An inter-departmental committee is currently working to develop a recidivism rate formula based on the date of release, which would not be limited by the warrant expiry date. This rate would provide information on recidivism for any number of years after release, for example, one year, five years, ten years after release, et cetera, including post-warrant expiry recidivism. Once developed, the new recidivism rate should provide better information on the success of treatment and reintegration programs and on the overall performance of the correctional system.

(v) The board does not measures the recidivism rate for cases where the board releases an offender though the Correctional Service has not recommended release. While the Correctional Service recommendation is an important part of all conditional release reviews, board members make independent decisions, based on the risk factors presented by the offender during the review, and the board's performance measurement regime provides information on the quality of these decisions. That said, the board does monitor how often board decisions are in concordance with the CSC recommendation. This measure is called the concordance rate.

Question No. 207—

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

With respect to the employment insurance fund: ( a ) what was the accumulated surplus in the fund as of December 31, 1998; ( b ) has this surplus been used for purposes other than paying employment insurance benefits; ( c ) if so, how much of the accumulated surplus has been used to fund the debt and the deficit; and ( d ) what government programs have been funded out of the surplus and how much of the surplus has gone to each of these programs?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

(a) The accumulated surplus in the employment insurance, EI, account as of December 31, 1998 was $19,042 billion.

(b) The balance in the EI account can only be applied to the payment of EI benefits, employment benefits and support measures and administration costs as authorized under the EI act.

(c) The EI account is consolidated with the central accounts of the Government of Canada. Any EI surpluses or deficits are included in the overall balance of operations for the government and thus in its annual deficit or surplus as well as in its accumulated debt.

(d) As noted in (b) above, programs other than employment insurance cannot be funded out of the EI account. The cumulative EI surplus is temporarily available to the federal government for any other use, but the government credits the EI account with interest in the interim.

Question No. 228—

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Bloc Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

With regard to the shutdown of operations at La Nationale mine in the Thetford Mines, Quebec, area in November 1985; ( a ) what kind of assistance was granted to the workers affected by the closure; ( b ) what was the name of the program put in place; ( c ) what was the amount of money put into the program by the federal government; and ( d ) what conditions did the workers have to meet in order to benefit from the program?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

The former Department of Canada Employment and Immigration Commission provided assistance to affected workers of La Nationale mine in Thetford Mines through the former labour adjustment benefit, LAB program. The successor to LAB was the program for older workers adjustment, POWA, program, which came into effect on January 1, 1988.

The LAB program legislation became effective on May 1, 1982. The purpose of LAB was to assist Canadians in four industries within 21 designated regions by providing workers with adjustment benefits. Benefits were and are paid through the employment insurance payment systems. Benefits were provided to laid off workers at the following mines: La Nationale, Bell, Carrie Canadian and Lac D'Amiante.

A total of 3,751 workers were accepted under the LAB program who have been paid a total of $105,778,923 as of September 30, 1998.

In order to qualify for benefits, an individual had to:

(1) be at least 54 years of age on the effective date of layoff;

(2) be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada;

(3) have been employed in a generally designated industry or industries for at least 10 of the 15 years preceeding the layoff, and have been paid for at least 1,000 hours of employment in each of those years;

(4) have claimed or exhausted all employment insurance benefits; and

(5) have no present prospects of employment or have accepted employment with earnings less than average weekly insurable earnings prior to layoff.

In cases of financial hardship, benefits could be payable to individuals whose age plus years of service, as previously defined, equaled 80 or more.

In order to assure that benefits were maintained, in the spirit of a last resort income maintenance measure, the Canada employment centres, CECs undertook to review the recipients' circumstances at least every six months to re-examine their prospects for employment.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Reform

John Duncan Reform Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I asked the hon. member earlier today if he could report on the status of Question No. 232. Could I have a report on the status of that question?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member asked if that question was to be answered before a possible adjournment in June. The answer to that is yes.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Shall the remaining questions stand?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-79, an act to amend the Criminal Code (victims of crime) and another act in consequence, be read the third time and passed.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Liberal

Julian Reed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to once again reinforce some of the aspects of these amendments that we believe will enhance the justice system in the country.

Bill C-79 amendments will enhance and expand the opportunities for victims of crime to make a victim impact statement and will address the manner in which the statement can be made.

When determining the appropriate sentence to impose on an offender, the judge takes into account a range of considerations related to both the particular offender and to the offence, and is guided by the purposes and principles of sentencing set out in the code and the penalties set out in the code, including any applicable mandatory minimum.

The victim impact statement must be considered by the sentencing judge along with all other relevant information. The statement is a description of the harm done or the loss suffered by the victim. In other words, the impact from their personal point of view.

Bill C-79 makes several important changes to the impact statement provisions. For example, the amendments will make it clear that it is the victim's choice whether to read his or her victim impact statement. Note that the current code provisions require the judge to consider the written victim impact statement which has been prepared and filed.

This will continue to be the case. In other words, when a victim does not choose to present the statement orally, the judge will still be required to consider the written statement. It is always the victim's choice whether to prepare a victim impact statement and some may not wish to do so.

There may be situations where the victim seeks to present his or her statement in another manner, for example by video or audio tape or through a third person. In these situations the judge will determine if that type of presentation is appropriate.

The amendments will also require that a judge make inquiries after a determination of guilt and before sentencing as to whether a victim has been informed of the opportunity to prepare a victim impact statement. In most cases the judge will direct the inquiry to the crown attorney, who should be aware of the prevailing policy in the jurisdiction for advising victims about victim impact statements. For example, in some jurisdictions the police may provide a card to all victims they come into contact with which refers victims to victim witness services and/or which refers to the victim impact statement program, or the crown may have a notation in the file that the victim has indeed been advised.

The amendment is intended to provide one last check on the information a victim should have received. The ability to prepare and submit a victim impact statement is of little benefit to a victim if the victim is not aware of these provisions. We note that it is always the victim's choice whether to prepare an impact statement. Some victims will be advised of the opportunity and may choose not to prepare such a statement. However, the choice cannot be made without adequate information. In some cases an adjournment may be necessary to permit the victim to be notified and a statement prepared. The amendments will specifically authorize such adjournments.

Victim impact statements will also be available to victims where the offender is found not criminally responsible for the offence committed. Currently, when an accused person is found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder, there is no opportunity for the victim to describe the impact of the offence. This is because a mentally disordered accused is not sentenced because they are not criminally responsible.

The current victim impact provisions only apply at sentencing proceedings. The reality, though, is that victims of mentally disordered offenders are victims of crime and should have a similar opportunity to describe the impact. The amendments will therefore provide that, following a verdict of not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder, a victim may prepare and file a statement. The statement will be considered by the court or by the Criminal Code Review Board when making the initial disposition regarding the mentally disordered accused.

The Criminal Code includes a complete part dealing with mentally disordered offenders and sets out criteria for making dispositions. The victim impact statement shall be considered in the context of those criteria and, in the case where a conditional discharge is appropriate, the statement shall be considered in determining the appropriate conditions.

Another significant development that has emerged from the growing acceptance of the principle that offenders should acknowledge the harm done to victims and the community is the emergence of community impact statements. Community impact statements, although not legislated, are gaining acceptance as a means by which the community has a voice in the criminal justice system. This concept grew out of the increasing acceptance of victim impact statements as a valid and worthwhile role for victims to play at sentencing proceedings.

The amendments to enhance victim involvement at sentencing through the victim impact statement recognize that crime has an impact on real people. Community involvement in crime prevention, victim advocacy and, as mentioned, community impact statements demonstrate that the people of Canada are committed to improving the justice system. Bill C-79 demonstrates that the government shares that commitment.