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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was actually.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Scarborough Centre (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Corrections and Conditional Release Act December 1st, 2011

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I agree with his statement. It is important to note that correctional staff have expressed that the fair grievance process is very important, but it should be used for legitimate complaints. Part of the problem is that they are extremely busy, and when they are bogged down with grievances made in bad faith, it takes time away from the legitimate complaints or concerns of other inmates that need to be addressed. The member is absolutely correct.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act December 1st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question is similar to the first question. He is asking for statistics, and the numbers speak for themselves. Twenty inmates file 100 grievances per year; these grievances are appealed at each stage of the process and have probably made their way to the highest level, which is the commissioner himself.

A handful of inmates have filed over 500 grievances per year. In my speech I indicated that, statistically speaking, the bill is aiming to target a whopping 15%.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act December 1st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is correct; the bill will not address the bulk of inmates in prisons today. It is actually aimed at a small group of individuals who have made a hobby of filing these types of complaints.

It is a real headache to our hard-working front-line correctional staff when they have to deal with grievances that are not made in good faith and are filed only to cause trouble within the system.

The hon. member mentioned his concern that it may address other inmates as well. However, I can assure the House that there are approximately 20 people currently in penitentiaries today who are each filing in excess of 100 grievances. In fact, a handful of inmates have filed more than 500 grievances per year. This bill will target those individuals only.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act December 1st, 2011

moved that Bill C-293, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (vexatious complainants), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, Canadians gave our government a strong mandate to deliver safer streets and communities with our tough on crime agenda. That includes holding offenders accountable and building a correctional system that actually corrects criminal behaviour. That is why I am particularly pleased to rise today to talk about this important piece of legislation that will help complete part of that task, a task which Canadians have sent us here to do.

My private members bill, Bill C-293, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (vexatious complainants),, would correct a costly problem that currently exists in Canada's correctional system.

Correctional Service of Canada receives approximately 29,000 grievances a year from various offenders. Out of a total of approximately 23,000 offenders in CSC custody, a small group of approximately 20 offenders file more than 100 grievances per year. This accounts for a whopping 15% of all complaints filed. In fact, there are even a few cases where offenders have filed in excess of 500 grievances.

The increased volume of frivolous complaints significantly delays the process for other inmates to have actual legitimate concerns addressed. High complaint volume also ties up resources and has become taxing on our hard-working, front line correctional officers.

Bill C-293 would allow the Commissioner of Correctional Service of Canada to label an offender as a vexatious complainant when the offender submits multiple complaints or grievances that are of a vexatious or frivolous nature or not made in good faith. The bill would enable CSC to minimize the impact of those who file such grievances and it would ensure that the grievance process maintains the integrity to accomplish its intended goals.

I will explain for my colleagues the fair grievance process we currently have here in Canada. Currently there are four levels through which a complaint may progress. Complaints may be resolved at any stage. However, it is the inmates who get to determine if they are satisfied with the outcome of the decisions made by a warden or regional deputy commissioner.

The first level in the grievance process is called the complaint level. A prisoner fills out paperwork at the institution, which is then reviewed by the department or section manager and, if unresolved, makes its way to the warden. For high priority cases, the file will be reviewed within 15 working days or in 25 days for routine priority files.

CSC distinguishes high priority complaints and grievances as those that have a direct effect on life, liberty or security of the person, or that relate to the griever's access to the complaints or grievance process. Once reviewed, a decision will be made by the warden who will either approve, approve in part, or deny the inmate's claim. Should the prisoner be unhappy with the decision, the prisoner has the right to appeal.

Grievances at the complaint level can be an extensive process. Documents are filled out by the offenders and placed in mail boxes. Submissions are collected by a grievance coordinator who assesses and assigns it to a department. The complaint will then be logged into the computer system.

Next, the individual responsible for the area of the complaint will seek out more information and may interview staff or the offenders as required. The complainant will then receive a formal response from the institution. The status of a file will be noted in the computer system, depending if the offender believes that the complaint has been resolved.

It is important to note that offenders can request an interview at any time during this process. This can quickly increase the processing times of complaints due to staff and scheduling constraints.

Complaint processing initially occurs at the lowest level possible, which means that this whole process can cascade three times from the individual involved, the department or section manager and then to the warden.

While every effort is made to resolve an offender's grievance, it is apparent that the complaint level of the grievance process requires a great deal of resources to properly administer. Many institutions will also provide offenders the opportunity to be hired as inmate grievance clerks. These offenders are interviews and, if hired, will be provided the appropriate training and education.

Inmate grievance clerks play a role in reducing the number of complaints as they are attempting to resolve the situation without resorting to the formal grievance process.

CSC deals with hundreds of complaints per day which are dealt with by this very informal manner. This is a useful tool for standard grievances. However, dealing with these situations informally is not always enough for some offenders who make it a hobby of filing complaints.

The second level of the grievance process occurs at the regional level. CSC has five regions and the files from the first complaint level are sent to the appropriate regional office. The regional deputy commissioner will review the files and in the same timeframe as the initial complaint level. Once again, if unhappy, the prisoner is granted the opportunity to appeal.

At the next stage, level three, the senior regional deputy commissioner will review the prisoner's grievance. This person must now assess the original grievance and additionally consider the responses provided by the institution warden and the regional deputy commissioner. Due to the increased volume of documents, the review times at this stage are 60 working days for high priority and 80 days for routine priority files. Again, if unsatisfied with the decision of the senior regional deputy commissioner, the inmate may appeal, which moves the claim to the fourth and final stage.

It is important to note that, up until this point, grievances can be in the system up to 150 working days. If appealed, the level four grievance means the prisoner's claim will be sent to the commissioner of CSC. At this stage, grievances will again be approved, approved in part or wholly declined. This is a much shorter review timeframe since the commissioner's office will receive summaries from all other levels to assist in making the final decision. Furthermore, the timeframe is much shorter because the commissioner's office has a greater number of staff and expertise as its disposal.

It is important to also note that, throughout the entire grievance process, prisoners may also approach federal courts, the office of the correctional investigator and tribunals as methods for addressing their complaints. These other avenues for addressing grievances require that the offender has exhausted the complaint process currently available in their own facility.

This process is generous, extensive and provides three opportunities for an inmate to accept solutions to his or her complaints. The current system does not prevent all inmates from filing frivolous grievances and, as such, prevents the necessary jurisprudence to allow CSC personnel to do their jobs appropriately and efficiently.

The current legislation is not as efficient and fiscally responsible as law-abiding Canadians deserve and expect it to be.

How does the current process fail us? I will explain this in six brief points. First, the current system does not require that grievances be filed in good faith. Section 90 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act states:

There shall be a procedure for fairly and expeditiously resolving offenders’ grievances on matters within the jurisdiction of the Commissioner....

A system required to process all claims regardless of merit diminishes the fair and quick resolution of legitimate complaints.

I am certain that by amending section 91, the labelling of vexatious complainants, it would improve offender access to section 90, fair and timely resolution, of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, which is central to the purpose of this bill.

Second, the current system is a financial burden on the taxpayer. An incredible amount of resources and tax dollars are wasted when inmates are able to control a system that moves through four reviews and up to 150 days of processing time.

Third, the system allows prisoners to act like they are the victims. Proceeding through the correctional system with a sense of victimization is a problem. Our government was given a mandate to support Canadian families and law-abiding citizens, and this means supporting those who are the real victims of crime.

Fourth, allowing prisoners to file numerous frivolous complaints detracts from their ability to focus on their rehabilitation. Inmates should be focused on their correctional plan, the end result of which will mean their more effective reintegration into society. Making a hobby of filing meritless grievances makes a mockery of our correctional system and the entire grievance process.

Fifth, the present system creates a negative impact on the morale of staff involved in managing the grievance process. The knowledge that inmates are continuously filing grievances to cause trouble is not helpful to the morale of staff. On my recent visit to a prison, front line prison staff expressed the challenges of spending large amounts of time processing meritless complaints, especially when offenders choose not to seek resolution through informal channels.

Finally, the current system is too generous when it comes to the initiation of grievances. Inmates are attempting to manipulate a fair correctional system. Prisoners are in jail for one reason and that is to pay their debts to society. This certainly does not include bogging down the system with undue administrative hardships. It is evident that vexatious complainants are attention-seeking inmates who wilfully abuse the fair complaint process and prevent it from functioning properly.

Do members know that offenders are currently permitted by law to file a second complaint while a first is already in process? Often this second complaint will be an exact duplicate of the first. Offenders may do this because they are displeased with an initial response or they may not believe that their matter is being addressed in a timely fashion.

One particular example of this was an inmate who had an issue regarding a radio that he owned which, after his transfer to a new institution, no longer worked. He filed a complaint and while this grievance was in process he began to work through claims against the crown process as well. He then filed another complaint on the same issue while his first grievance was still being evaluated in conjunction with the institution that he had been transferred from.

When corrections staff attempt to resolve inmate issues in a timely manner, offenders should not be breathing down their necks for an answer or bogging down the system. Solutions take time and this procedure should be respected.

CSC staff noted that the offender saw the grievance process as a game and was determined to take advantage of it. It is important to note that staff feel the complaint process is an extremely important and useful tool but only when it is used for legitimate complaints.

As I said, our government believes in delivering a correctional service that actually corrects. There are key programs with CSC that have a real impact in the effective rehabilitation of inmates, for example, CORCAN. CORCAN is a key rehabilitation program of Correctional Service of Canada. CORCAN's mission is to aid in the safe reintegration of prisoners into society while providing employment and employability skills training to offenders incarcerated in federal penitentiaries and sometimes even after they are released back into the community.

Inmates who co-operate within the system also have access to an adult basic education program. This program offers inmates the opportunity to pursue a grade 12 education and is available year round in Canadian correctional institutions. This program is offered to offenders who have education in their correctional plan or who require upgrading in skills as a requirement for either continuing education or reintegration programs.

Correctional plans are professionally developed and implemented documents that outline an inmate's needs and what he or she needs to do to become responsible and accountable individuals in society. Under Bill C-10, the safe streets and communities act, these correctional plans would play an even more fundamental role in the way inmate rehabilitation is structured. As they pay their debts, these are the efforts inmates ought to be taking for reintegration into society. It is important to realize also that these programs come at a substantial cost to taxpayers and should not be taken lightly.

What are the exact changes proposed in my Bill C-293? In simple terms, the bill would allow the commissioner of Correctional Service of Canada, or his assigned representative, to designate an offender as a vexatious complainant. Once this has occurred, the offender would be held to a higher standard of proof for future claims.

Additionally, someone designed as a vexatious complainant could have his or her complaint shut down in the initial stage if the institution decided that the claim was vexatious and not made in good faith. Bill C-293 would considerably improve how grievances are processed in our correctional system.

Who exactly would benefit from the bill? Vexatious complainants themselves would benefit from the bill. They would be held accountable by focusing more attention on paying their debts to society. Their time will be better spent completing their correctional plan. This bill would work within the existing process to ensure prisoners are learning responsibility for their actions. Continuous complaining is counterproductive to those goals.

Taxpayers would benefit from a system that no longer forces correctional staff to process large volumes of meritless complaints, resulting in better use of tax dollars.

Correctional staff would also benefit. They would be freed from processing claims made in bad faith.

Our existing system would benefit. The existing grievance process would function more effectively and in the manner that it is supposed to. It would be able to resolve grievances in the way that it was intended to and actually focus on legitimate complaints.

By cracking down on vexatious complainants, Bill C-293 would help to make offenders more accountable, ensure greater respect for taxpayers and take the unnecessary burden off hard-working front line correctional officers.

I hope that all hon. members will support this legislation.

Safe Streets and Communities Act November 30th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to support Bill C-10.

As a member of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, I will focus my remarks on the section of the bill that amends the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in order to prevent human trafficking and to curtail the abuse and exploitation of vulnerable foreign workers.

These measures will improve upon an immigration system that is already the envy of the world and one that is vital to Canada's future. Before I speak about the particular measures in Bill C-10, it is important to specify exactly what I mean by that.

The benefits of immigration are undeniable and immense. This country was built by immigrants. Indeed, a great many of us serving this House are either immigrants ourselves or the children or grandchildren of immigrants.

For people the world over, Canada represents a great beacon of hope. Last year, Ipsos conducted a global poll of OECD countries and found that about two billion people in those countries alone said they would like to come to our country, Canada.

Those who come to Canada from other places, either permanently as immigrants or for a set period of time as temporary workers, bring their unique skills and talents to our shores. They enrich and strengthen our local communities, our social fabric and the economic development of our great country.

Because an effective and strong immigration system is central to a strong economy, the government has taken measures in recent years to ensure that our immigration system responds to Canada's labour market needs. Those measures have been undeniably quite successful.

In the last five years, Canada has seen the highest sustained level of immigration in nearly a century. Most of that increase has come from skilled economic immigrants and their families.

Canadians understand how important it is for our economic well-being to continue to bring newcomers into this country. They also understand that another great economic benefit to Canada comes from bringing in temporary foreign workers with skills that fill important requirements in our labour market. To manage this, Canadians want an immigration system that conforms to our shared democratic values, an open and generous system, governed by the rule of law, that treats all potential immigrants and temporary foreign workers with equality and fairness.

Of course, along with the benefits to Canada of such an open system comes a responsibility to protect against the abuse and exploitation of that system. Each additional day that the opposition delays this bill is yet another day in which people may be smuggled to Canada and exploited and abused, and there is nothing that we as Canadians can do about it. Canada's immigration officials, from front-line visa officers to those tasked with making high-level decisions about potential newcomers to the country, need to have the proper tools both to safeguard the system from misuse and to protect vulnerable persons from exploitation.

In some cases the existing laws give officials the tools they need to carry out these specific duties. For example, we already have the legal ability to stop people with a prior criminal conviction from entering Canada. In other cases, loopholes still exist, allowing those with nefarious aims to exploit both the immigration system itself and also vulnerable people from other countries who wish to work in Canada.

Bill C-10 will supplement current legislative provisions by plugging that existing hole in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, a hole that currently puts vulnerable people at risk.

This was a campaign commitment in the most recent election, and our government is following through with our commitments. Canadians gave us a strong mandate to keep our streets and communities safe by getting tough on crime; this includes preventing crime and exploitation of vulnerable people both in Canada and abroad.

Measures in this bill will give the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism the discretionary authority to use ministerial instructions to deny work permits to those temporary workers who are most susceptible to abuse or exploitation once they arrive in Canada.

What kinds of abuse and exploitation would these measures address? They include a great variety, ranging from the sexual exploitation of individuals trying to enter Canada to work in the adult entertainment business as exotic dancers through temporary workers at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking to low-skilled labourers vulnerable to humiliating and degrading treatment by their abusive employers.

There are many potential scenarios in which the measures included in this particular section of Bill C-10 would protect individuals who might otherwise face abuse and exploitation upon their arrival here in Canada.

What current provisions do not allow for is the refusal of work permits to people who may not face any obstacles under the current immigration laws but whose situation would make them more vulnerable to future abuse or exploitation. Bill C-10 would rectify this problem.

The amendments proposed in the bill would allow for a systematic process based on dispassionate evidence, transparent regulations and clear public policy objectives in making any decision about who would be refused entry to Canada because of potential abuse and exploitation.

Additionally, it is important to underline that Canada's immigration officers are among the most capable, professional and highly trained in the world. They are very skilled at recognizing applicants who are at risk. It does not make any sense to curb their ability to protect vulnerable applicants from potentially abusive situations, but unless we pass the measures proposed in Bill C-10 into law, we are doing just that.

By introducing the safe streets and communities act, which includes these important provisions, we are keeping yet another one of our campaign commitments. Canadians know that our Conservative government keeps its commitments. By delaying the bill, the opposition is proving yet again that it is totally out of touch with the priorities of regular Canadians.

It is my sincere hope that having contemplated all of the benefits that I have outlined--benefits both to our internationally acclaimed immigration system and also to vulnerable individuals from around the world--hon. members on both sides of the House will see fit to support Bill C-10.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act September 28th, 2011

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-293, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (vexatious complainants).

Mr. Speaker, I proudly rise in the House today to introduce Bill C-293, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (vexatious complainants).

Correctional Service Canada, CSC, receives thousands of complaints per year from offenders. A small group of convicts accounts for about 15% of the complaints that are filed. My bill seeks to address those inmates who have made a hobby of issuing complaints, who have abused the grievance process and who waste correctional institution resources by filing numerous complaints that are vexatious or frivolous in nature.

The changes contained within this bill transcend all political parties in this House, and I sincerely hope that all members will support it.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Rosalie Hall September 19th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to thank my constituents for placing their trust in me. Scarborough Centre is right in the heart of Scarborough and it is a great privilege to represent such a diverse and vibrant community.

Since being elected to office, I have visited a multitude of different organizations and I am humbled to have met so many wonderful people who make up the very fabric of this great riding.

In fact, just last week, I was fortunate to be able to visit Rosalie Hall, a young parent resource centre situated right beside the Scarborough General Hospital. Serving the community for nearly 100 years, Rosalie Hall has focused in on the health, educational needs and the overall well-being of both young mothers and their children.

I would like to applaud and congratulate Mr. Alan Nickell, executive director, his staff and all of the remarkable volunteers at Rosalie Hall for serving the community and for their outstanding work in providing support and opening up new avenues for so many deserving young women and their families.

World Refugee Day June 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to recognize World Refugee Day.

Canada has a long history of providing protection to those who need it. As a Canadian, I am proud of our compassionate tradition. Canada's refugee programs are world renowned for their fairness and generosity. In fact, last year Canada welcomed more refugees resettled through the UN than any other country in the world per capita.

For example, we have welcomed more than 2,300 Bhutanese refugees in several communities across Canada and we plan to resettle up to 5,000 more Bhutanese refugees from Nepal over the next few years. As well, we have almost completed the resettlement of over 3,900 Karen from Thailand.

Today I urge all Canadians to reflect on the courage of the millions of refugees and displaced persons around the world who are fleeing persecution, tyranny and oppression.

Air Canada June 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, late last night 3,800 Air Canada customer service and ticket agents went on strike. Canadians are worried about the effect this will have on our economy.

Could the Minister of Labour please advise the House of the government's intentions to respond to this strike?