Mr. Maurice Harquail (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans):
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating the Hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Halliday) for all the previously stated reasons. I have had more than one occasion to observe the dedication and sincerity of the Hon. Member in his work as a Member of the House of Commons. I would like to begin my remarks by congratulating him on bringing forward this motion today.
I am sure, however, that the Hon. Member will understand that the proposition which he brings to the House is in some respects in conflict with what is in existence now, certainly with respect to the position of the Government of the day. While I agree with the thrust of what the Hon. Member for Oxford is attempting to achieve, I would like to bring forward other salient aspects of the subject matter.
I agree with my colleagues that there is a direct relationship between the Hon. Member's motion and recommendation No. 24 in the report of the Subcommittee on the Penitentiary System in Canada. However, I have decided to explore the link between this motion and recommendation No. 26 of the same report which proposed that the CSC be treated as a separate employer within the meaning of the Public Service Employment Act. Acceptance of recommendations Nos. 24 or 26 would ultimately transfer the correctional service of Canada into a non-departmental body.
Recommendation No. 24 states that a board would be charged with the responsibility of formulating correctional policies. The board would have no line authority, but would appoint the commissioner to supervise the operations of the
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service in accordance with the policies it establishes. It would report to the Solicitor General and would submit an annual report, through the Minister, to Parliament.
While recommendation No. 26 states that CSC staff should be exempt from the Public Service Employment Act, it also adds that the CSC should be similar to the RCMP in its discipline and professionalism and that employees could be discharged for misconduct or incompetence.
At this time, I think a brief history of the origin of the subcommittee should be given. The House of Commons agreed on October 21, 1976, to the motion of the then Solicitor General that the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs inquire into the penitentiary system in Canada. On October 26, 1976, the committee referred the subject to an all-Party subcommittee which was fully representative of the House of Commons. I might add that I had the honour and privilege to serve on that committee with the present Minister of Justice (Mr. MacGuigan) as its Chairman. Of course, the distinguished Member for Oxford was also on the committee and made a very significant contribution to the committee's work.
The mandate of the subcommittee was to examine the background of the correctional service of Canada-maximum security institutions, the purposes of imprisonment, correctional staff, the organization and management of the penitentiary service, justice within the walls, socialization, pre-release and parole programs and inmates' work, and educational and other training programs.
The fifth and final progress report on the implementation of the 65 recommendations of the subcommittee was made public by the Solicitor General (Mr. Kaplan) before the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs in June of 1981.
In recommendation No. 26, the subcommittee suggested that if the CSC were to take responsibility for its own staffing and firing, the thrust of the recommendation would be better fulfilled. It would enable faster staffing action and would reduce vacancies. It would also facilitate the employment of higher calibre people and would help create staff professionalism and a desired esprit de corps.
The CSC appointed a task force in June, 1978, to study the personnel recommendations of the report of the parliamentary Subcommittee on the Penitentiary System. That task force completed its work at the end of June, 1980. Since that time, the recommendations of the task force have been the subject of extensive consultation between the CSC, the Union of Solicitor General Employees, officials of the Treasury Board Secretariat and other interested government departments. Consequently, steps are now under way to bring into effect certain mechanisms, such as a distinct correctional employees operation group and a provision to allow for the early retirement of correctional employees who suffer from the results of the high levels of stress that are common in the correctional environment.
Many positive changes have already taken place in the area of personnel management in the correctional service of
Canada. I will outline some of these changes. They include a detailed code of conduct which sets out the standards upon which staff conduct is judged and the process by which disciplinary action is taken. It includes a nationally-managed CX recruitment program designed to ensure the selection of high calibre recruits. This program has been developed and implemented. The changes provide the selection criteria for CX recruitment, which have been modified. The minimum educational standard for correctional officers has been upgraded to Grade 12 or the equivalent. The university qualification for CXs to obtain WP positions has been removed, thereby developing a career path for security staff. Greater emphasis has been placed on manpower planning and training from a national perspective. As well, a 13-week full-time induction training course, followed by a 24-month probationary period, has been introduced for all new correctional officers. Live-in unit officers also receive an additional four-week course on case management, counselling techniques and group dynamics.
The CSC has implemented the policy of official language service to inmates consistent with that which is available to the general public, in the spirit of the Official Languages Act. It has also created one of the first language ombudsman positions in a federal department or agency to protect language rights and to develop programs for second language acquisition in the workplace.
Additionally, the CSC has introduced a supplementary income benefit plan for survivors of employees slain on duty. This benefit plan guarantees income maintenance for survivors of employees to supplement any payments received from Canada and Quebec Pension Plans and Workmen's Compensation. It has also implemented a program of rehabilitative assistance to employees of the service who became victims of acts of violence in institutions.
Furthermore, the CSC has developed a policy to integrate female correctional officers in male institutions. The long-term goal is to reach a representation of 13 per cent in medium and minimum security institutions by 1987. The integration is presently being done in medium and minimum security institutions. As of January, 1984, the number of female correctional officers in male institutions has been 255, or 5.6 per cent. On May 20, 1980, Ms. Mary Dawson was appointed Warden of Warkworth Institution, thus becoming the first woman to head a major federal institution for male inmates. On November 9, 1983, Doctor Pauline Lamothe, who began her career as a psychologist at the British Columbia penitentiary, was appointed the first female executive director of a regional psychiatric centre in Canada.
In order to ensure the highest level of communication with its employees, the CSC conducted a survey in the fall of 1983 through the Gallup poll to examine the attitudes of staff and the effectiveness of internal communication. The survey revealed that over one-third or 37 per cent of the employees interviewed are very satisfied with their employment, and almost three quarters, or 71 per cent, described it as reward-
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ing. Commitment to the job was felt strongly by 70 per cent of those surveyed, and almost three-quarters of the respondents, or 72 per cent, perceived their function as a career.
The CSC has also developed and implemented a CSC awards program for staff, including the Commissioner's Citation for Bravery and Meritorious Service, the Service Commendation, the Certificate of Appreciation and the Long Service Awards.
For these reasons, as well as those expressed by my colleagues, I feel that the Solicitor General, through the Correctional Service of Canada, is fulfilling his mandate and is meeting the objectives of the motion presented by the Hon. Member for Oxford as well as the recommendations of the subcommittee on the penitentiary system in Canada.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I will say that we were all very pleased to have the opportunity to work in this committee and to deal with this most urgent and serious question at that time back in the late 1970s when we had very serious riots in the major institutions, the maximum security institutions in Canada. We were delighted with the reception which the recommendations in the report received and the fact that the Solicitor General of the day, and subsequent Solicitors General, have taken the recommendations very seriously. The majority of those recommendations have been implemented, acted upon or studied. Some action has been taken. I believe it is very gratifying to know that our work has not been in vain but indeed has made a substantial contribution to our society.
For all those stated reasons, once again I want to congratulate the Hon. Member for Oxford for his diligence in bringing this matter to our attention.
Topic: PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-MOTIONS