USJE Regional Vice Presidents Jeff Sandelli and Patrick Ménard served as key subject matter experts during an important meeting of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security on November 22.
During the meeting, Members of Parliament who sit on the Committee sought to better understand the rights of victims as well as the process of reclassification and transfers of federal offenders within federal institutions. This inquiry follows the transfer last spring of high-profile offender Paul Bernado from a maximum security to a medium security federal institution.
During the seven rounds of questions posed over two hours by Members of Parliament to USJE representatives, RVPs Sandelli and Ménard were able to explain at length and with great clarity the work that USJE’s CSC members accomplish, both within institutions and in the community.
USJE’S expert witnesses were able to provide significant insight with respect to the development of assessments for decisions related to security, transfer and parole that all involve gathering input and data from multiple sources in order to ensure that fulsome recommendations are put forward. These recommendations take into account the balance of public safety, victim considerations and opportunity for the offender to work towards addressing their needs with the goal of supporting a safe reintegration.
RVP Ménard was directly questioned twice by Bloc Québécois MP Kristina Michaud on the security assessment process that is overseen by USJE’s CSC members, giving Ménard the chance to fully inform the committee in this regard. MP Michaud further quoted USJE’s recent studies undertaken by leading Public Safety researcher Dr. Rose Ricciardelli report which highlighted ongoing issues USJE has been flagging for some time, including the operational stress injuries related to the work USJE’s members do within federal Corrections.
NDP MP Peter Julian invited USJE representatives to speak on the proposed amendments to the Government Employee Compensation Act (GECA) which Mr. Julian has advanced through the introduction of a Private Member’s Bill (C-357). USJE is urgently calling on all parties to close a key gap is federal legislation so that federal public safety personnel have access to Worker’s Compensation for mental health related injuries, just like first responders in most provinces and territories.
The Committee session was a great opportunity for USJE to share its expertise on the federal Correctional system and highlight its professionalism. USJE will continue to take all opportunities to engage with Members of Parliament in order to shine light on the value, commitment and contribution to public safety provided by USJE members. To watch the House of Commons proceedings from this Committee, click here and go to the Watch link for Meeting 84 (Wednesday, November 22, 2023).