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House of Commons Hansard #80 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was judiciary.

Topics

6:35 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, Canada's new government is committed to ensuring an effective and fair federal corrections system that protects Canadians as the overarching priority.

Correctional Service Canada is committed to partnering with communities in the development of innovative community based approaches for offender healing and reintegration. There are many factors that may have contributed to the overrepresentation of aboriginals in the prison system and our government acknowledges the challenges many aboriginals have in addressing poverty, education and substance abuse.

CSC is dealing with changing inmate populations. This includes an increasing percentage of aboriginal offenders which research has shown to be younger, more likely to commit violent crimes, have lower levels of education, and are less likely than the general population to be employed when admitted to custody. This leads them to be classified as higher risk and higher need inmates.

Higher risk and higher need inmates are placed in high security levels, are kept in jails longer, and are less likely to be released on some form of conditional release. It is for this reason that Canada's new government is committed to preventing crime from taking place. The 2006 budget allocated $20 million over two years for communities to prevent youth crimes with a focus on guns, gangs and drugs. By supporting our citizens, and youth in particular, we will hopefully prevent incarceration from taking place.

At the same time, the issue of aboriginal overrepresentation is a concern of CSC and the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

That is why in 2006 CSC launched its five year strategic plan for aboriginal corrections with commitment to action in three key areas. First, there would be program and service delivery through further development of the continuum of care model in consultation with aboriginal leaders and communities. Second, there would be enhanced collaboration with other stakeholders, and third, systematic barriers would be addressed through an enhanced organizational capacity to work effectively with aboriginal offenders and their communities.

Aboriginal offenders attend programs under the guidance of elders, aboriginal liaison officers and elders helpers. These programs are a means to promote and encourage traditional, cultural and spiritual healing that increases positive reintegration into the community recognizing the hurdles that have prevented aboriginal people from full participation in Canadian society and making commitments toward healing and renewal.

CSC is also working in areas such as aboriginal liaison services in spiritual services. An aboriginal specific substance abuse treatment program and sex offender treatment initiatives are under development. Healing lodges developed in collaboration with aboriginal communities provide supportive healing and reintegration environments. As well, the National Parole Board utilizes elder and other forms of assisted hearings in all regions of Canada. These hearings allow the Parole Board to make more thorough assessments about an inmate's likelihood of successful release.

The Government of Canada has a major role in ensuring strong and safe aboriginal communities. That commitment is taken very seriously.

The department's first nations policing program, with agreements in some 300 first nation communities, helps foster better relationships with first nations by providing culturally appropriate professional police services. These services meet local needs and are leaders in crime prevention.

The aboriginal community corrections initiative has proven to be a successful program. It is designed to treat offenders, victims and their families, and has produced other community wide benefits.

6:40 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Correctional Investigator laid out a series of recommendations to deal with the situation. For example, we should build capacity for and increase the use of section 84 and section 81 agreements with aboriginal communities; implement a security classification process that ends the overclassification of aboriginal offenders; significantly increase the number of aboriginal offenders housed at minimum security institutions, and significantly increase the number of aboriginal offenders appearing before the National Parole Board at their earliest eligibility dates.

I would like to add one of my own. Correctional Service Canada should set up a senior management committee to meet with first nations, Métis and Inuit leadership intensively for a six month period with a mandate to develop an implementation plan for the recommendations of the Correctional Investigator.

Which one of these recommendations is the minister going to act on, and when?

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, CSC and the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness will continue to enhance its aboriginal continuum of care for aboriginal offenders that strives to provide aboriginal responses and alternatives at every critical step along the correctional path to ensure that they have every opportunity to address the issues that brought them into conflict with the law.

CSC will continue to expand involvement in aboriginal corrections by recruiting, retaining, and developing aboriginal and non-aboriginal correctional staff at all levels.

To improve the safety of aboriginal communities and for all Canadians, the department and CSC are working with other government departments, provinces and territories, as well as aboriginal people to address the larger social, cultural and economic problems facing aboriginal people.

Let me conclude by saying that Canada's new government is committed to ensuring an effective and fair correction system that protects Canadians as the overarching priority.

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:42 p.m.)