Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-83, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another act.
As my colleague said, administrative segregation has been widely criticized by stakeholders and has been subject to legal challenges.
This bill will eliminate administrative segregation and replace it with structured intervention units, which provide secure environments for inmates who must be separated from the general prison population to receive targeted interventions and real human interaction.
The bill will also make changes in connection to health care, the management of indigenous offenders, victims' access to audio recordings of parole hearings, and search technology to keep contraband out of prisons. These are the objectives of Bill C-83.
I was here on Friday, like many other colleagues, when we were studying this bill at second reading. We talked about it and we are still talking about it today.
Earlier our colleague from Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame said that the purpose of detention centres is to rehabilitate inmates so they can reintegrate into society. Yes, they are there because they have committed a crime, but we need to help them reintegrate into society so they can eventually contribute to it once they have made it through the detention part of their sentence.
The unemployment rate is at its lowest in 40 years. We need all the talent we can get in our society. Once inmates have served their sentence, they need to integrate and participate in our society. This means that, during their incarceration, they must be able to take training and, if they have mental health issues, they need to see the appropriate professionals.
Before I was an MP, I was fortunate to be in business, and I had contracts supplying food to some of the detention centres in my region, Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, including the Federal Training Centre in Laval and Leclerc Institution. There were maximum-security and medium-security detention centres, as well as centres for inmates who were nearing the end of their sentence and were getting ready to reintegrate into society. Yes, some inmates do reintegrate into society.
Some of those contacts were with family living units, where people work as a team to learn to cook. When inmates are released from a detention centre, they need to be independent. In short, I had those kinds of interactions, and the ultimate goal was for inmates to be able to reintegrate and participate in society.
As I said earlier, there are maximum-security penitentiaries for inmates who are not yet ready to be transferred to a medium-security centre or a centre where inmates are getting ready to be released.
Mental health services must also be available for people who need them. That is true, and should be one of the first things noted. We need to prepare inmates to return to a normal life in our society and help them get the training they need.
The bill requires inmates in administrative segregation to spend four hours outside their cell so that they have contact with other people in the prison system and health professionals, but also with outside visitors. They need to be able to continue to see people from outside the prison walls if we want them to be able to reintegrate into society. Of course, they also need to continue to have access to training programs.
One of my colleagues said earlier that this bill needs to go further, that we need to continue the debate and that all members need to have an opportunity to express their views.
I would like to continue to talk about the purpose of this bill. Our priority, as a government, is to ensure the safety of Canadians. It seems to me that the Conservatives would be happy to leave people in solitary confinement for years and then send them directly back into our communities. That is what I have been hearing. There are steps to follow, and inmates need to take training.
The best way to protect Canadians, our fellow citizens, is to ensure that offenders serving their sentence in a controlled prison environment, whether it is a minimum, medium or maximum security facility, get the help and treatment they need to reduce their chances of reoffending.
What is more, what we are proposing is very different from the current system. Structured intervention units will double the number of hours inmates spend outside their cells and guarantee them a minimum of two hours a day of real human interaction, whether it be with staff, volunteers, health care providers, seniors, chaplains, visitors or other compatible offenders. Inmates will have daily visits from a health care professional and access to intervention programs and mental health care. That is very important and we need to always keep that in mind. The whole system will be designed so as to address the factors that make the individual a risk and help that individual reintegrate into the general prison population.
In structured intervention units, the conditions and resources available will be different than those in the current system. This bill will also put in place a robust review system. The assignment to a structured intervention unit will be reviewed by the institutional head in the first five days. If the inmate remains there, the head will again review the case after 30 days. The commissioner will also review the case every 30 days after that.
The bill will also allow a professional to recommend at any time a change in conditions or the transfer of an inmate. The objective will always be the inmate's safe reintegration into the mainstream inmate population as soon as possible.
There is more. The bill will also formalize the possibility of having, for example, maximum security and minimum security institutions in the same location. As I mentioned earlier, many years ago I dealt with maximum security and medium security prisons. Institutions will always have the necessary infrastructure to accommodate their security level.
I asked some questions a little earlier. At present, victims do not have access to audio recordings of parole hearings. The bill will change that.
There are also the body scanners. When visitors, inmates or employees enter the institution, the search will be less invasive, but we will be able to scan people to ensure no contraband enters the prison.
We will be very pleased to support Bill C-83, and I hope that my colleagues will have second thoughts about not supporting it.