Connect with us
[the_ad id="89560"] [the_ad id="89560"]

National

Prison psychological tests must be fair to Indigenous inmates: high court

Published

on

If you like this, share it!




  • OTTAWA — The federal prison service has failed to ensure its psychological assessment tools are fair to Indigenous inmates, the Supreme Court of Canada says in a ruling that could open the door to a wholesale examination of the techniques.

    In a 7-2 decision Wednesday, the high court accepted prisoner Jeffrey Ewert’s challenge of five assessment tools the Correctional Service of Canada uses to gauge the risk of reoffending and potential for violence.

    It effectively means the Correctional Service must review the tools to make certain they are free of cultural bias, or stop using them altogether.

    “For the correctional system, like the criminal justice system as a whole, to operate fairly and effectively, those administering it must abandon the assumption that all offenders can be treated fairly by being treated the same way,” a majority of the court said in its reasons.

    The decision comes as the Liberal government grapples with the over-representation of Indigenous people in the federal prison system.

    In 2015-16, Indigenous offenders represented almost one-quarter of the total federal offender population. A government report also noted a lower percentage of Indigenous offenders benefited from gradual release from custody than non-Indigenous ones.

    Chief Bob Chamberlin, vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, welcomed the court ruling. “Today’s decision is a step forward in the fight to reduce the over-incarceration of our people.”

    The Correctional Service is reviewing the decision and “will determine next steps,” said prison service spokeswoman Stephanie Stevenson.

    Ewert, who identifies as Metis, alleged the prison service’s assessment techniques were not proven to be reliable for Indigenous inmates because they were developed and tested on predominantly non-Indigenous subjects.

    He claimed that reliance on the tools violated the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, which requires the prison service to “take all reasonable steps to ensure that any information about an offender that it uses is as accurate, up to date and complete as possible.”

    Ewert, 56, also contended that use of the tools violated constitutional guarantees of equality and liberty.

    Born to a Metis mother and a British father, Ewert was adopted as a baby by a Caucasian family in Surrey, B.C.

    Court documents describe his adoptive father as an alcoholic, and his adoptive mother as psychologically unstable and abusive. Ewert was subjected to racism and discrimination both at home and at school.

    He has been locked up for more than 30 years in maximum- and medium-security institutions, serving two concurrent life sentences for second-degree murder, attempted murder and escape from custody.

    Ewert became eligible for day parole in 1996 and full parole three years later. However, he has waived his right to each parole hearing.

    A Federal Court judge found the prison service had breached the corrections act and infringed Ewert’s charter right to liberty, but the decision was later overturned — prompting his appeal to the Supreme Court.

    In its decision, the Supreme Court said the Correctional Service must base its decisions about inmates on sound information if it is to ensure the safety of other prisoners, staff members and the general public.

    The high court stopped short of concluding Ewert’s charter rights had been breached.

    However, the court found the Correctional Service “fell short of what it is required to do” by “disregarding the possibility that these tools are systematically disadvantaging Indigenous offenders and by failing to take any action to ensure that they generate accurate information.”

    The court said that if the prison service wishes to continue using the tools, it must conduct research into whether — and to what extent — they apply differently to Indigenous offenders.

    Depending on the outcome, the service may need to modify the tools or stop using them on Indigenous inmates, the ruling said.

    — Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

    Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press


    If you like this, share it!
    [the_ad id="89560"]

    National

    Canada should do more to help women refugees worldwide: Oxfam Canada

    Published

    on

    If you like this, share it!




  • OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau’s self-proclaimed feminist government could and should be doing more to address gender-specific challenges faced by female refugees affected by wars and displacement.

    That’s according to a new report from Oxfam Canada, which takes a close look at how Canada provides international humanitarian aid and the gaps that exist when it comes to outcomes for women and girls in refugee situations.

    Canada has made great strides when it comes to making gender equality and feminism a key priority of its domestic and foreign policy agenda, but more can be done to help women being disproportionately affected by global crisis, the report says.

    “Currently, Canada’s international assistance funding is out of step with its ambition to be a world leader on gender equality and feminist aid and foreign policy,” the report states.

    “The fact that Canada’s international assistance spending is at a near historical low, merely reaching 0.26 per cent of gross national income, as compared to the UN aid target of 0.7 per cent, undermines its credibility and leadership on the international stage.”

    The study zeros in on areas where women in conflict zones are not getting the help they need or where efforts to improve gender equality in these areas are not being fully realized.

    Some of the findings are unsettling, including a statistic showing 25 to 50 per cent of maternal deaths in refugee camps are caused by unsafe abortions and related complications.

    This is due, in part, to a lack of adequate access to sexual and reproductive health services, which are often seen as a “second-tier” priority when people are forced to flee their homes due to conflict.

    “Our argument is that services are totally life-saving when you consider, for example, that last year 500 women and girls died during emergencies every single day from pregnancy and childbirth complications simply because sexual and reproductive health and rights weren’t a priority,” said Brittany Lambert, a women’s rights policy and advocacy specialist with Oxfam Canada.

    “These things should be prioritized from the very inception of these humanitarian responses and could save many lives.”

    Oxfam Canada also published findings last month following a series of interviews, focus groups and surveys of hundreds of women and men from the host and refugee communities in Bangladesh, suggesting Rohingya women and girls who survived genocide in Myanmar are facing new risks in refugee camps, notably when it comes to access to water and sanitation facilities.

    Some women are choosing to go hungry and thirsty and are restricting their children’s diets in order to limit their trips to these facilities to reduce risks of physical and sexual abuse and harassment, according to this research. 

    The organization is calling on Canada to develop a 10-year plan to achieve the United Nations aid target of 0.7 per cent of national income.

    It also wants Canada to establish a dedicated pool of 15 per cent of all its humanitarian aid to be specifically earmarked to address the needs of women and girls.

    “Right now the way Canada’s funding system works is that humanitarian assistance is aligned with the global humanitarian system priorities, which are things like shelter, water, food — but gender is not one of those categories,” Lambert said.

    “Women’s needs can be inserted into these categories but there are really limited funding opportunities to actually undertake programming that address gender inequality as a main goal so that’s why we’re calling for a stand alone pool of funding where Canada could actually fund this kind of feminist programming.”

    In addition, Oxfam Canada says the Trudeau government should take firmer action to ensure weapons do not end up in the hands of those who commit gender-based violence.

    Several international aid agencies, including Amnesty International, have said loopholes exist in Canada’s arms export policy that would allow arms sales to the United States — weapons which could end up being transferred to countries that abuse human rights.

    The government has announced several measures aimed at championing women’s issues both at home and abroad, including launching a feminist international assistance policy and a national action plan on women and government. Canada also disbursed more than $68 million in humanitarian assistance to support sexual and reproductive health needs in 2017-18.

    In addition, Canada has committed to increase its foreign aid effort by $2 billion over five years, which will bring total assistance to nearly $6 billion by 2021, says Global Affairs Canada.

    “We agree with the report that we need to ensure that the voices of civil society partners and affected communities, particularly women and girls, are included throughout the humanitarian response,” said the statement from Global Affairs Canada.

    “That is why Canada expects its partners to directly consult affected communities, and ensure that women and girls, in particular, are involved in the design of initiatives and decision-making processes that affect their lives.”

     

    —Follow @ReporterTeresa on Twitter.

     

    Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press


    If you like this, share it!
    Continue Reading

    National

    MP pays tribute to baby daughter on pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day

    Published

    on

    If you like this, share it!




  • OTTAWA — Conservative MP Tom Kmiec choked back tears as he recalled his infant daughter in a heartfelt speech in the House of Commons to mark national pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day.

    Kmiec’s daughter Lucy-Rose died in August when she was only 39 days old.

    MPs from all parties struggled to maintain their own composure as an emotional Kmiec used a member’s statement as an opportunity to thank the medical staff who cared for Lucy-Rose, the neighbours who brought his family food and support, and the parliamentarians who sent their condolences.

    Lucy-Rose died of Trisomy 13, a genetic condition that leaves babies with severe intellectual and physical disabilities. Also called Patau syndrome, only five to 10 per cent of babies diagnosed with it will live past their first year.

    “On this day, let us grieve with the parents who have lost a child, as well as the siblings who lost a lifelong best friend,” Kmiec said.

    Speaker Geoff Regan said he hoped Kmiec could see that love and support from the parliamentary family was around him.

    About one in five pregnancies in Canada ends in miscarriage.

    Congenital malformations and chromosomal abnormalities are the leading cause of death for babies under the age of one year. In 2016, 404 infants died of a congenital abnormality, according to Statistics Canada.

    In all, more than 1,700 babies died before their first birthday in 2016, 75 per cent of them before they were one month old.

    On Tuesday, the House of Commons human resources committee is starting to study the impact on parents of the death of an infant, including possible updates to parental leave programs and benefits.

    The study comes after a motion from Conservative MP Blake Richards, who identified shortcomings in the parental leave program when it comes to being compassionate to parents who are grieving.

    Kmiec urged MPs to hug their kids the next time they go home.

    “If they are old and have their own (kids), hug them anyway, even if they protest,” he said. “Life is too short and none of us knows when our time will come.”

    The Canadian Press


    If you like this, share it!
    Continue Reading

    october, 2018

    wed3oct - 7novoct 310:00 amnov 7RentSmart - CMHA10:00 am - (november 7) 12:00 pm

    thu11oct - 29novoct 115:45 pmnov 29Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) - CMHA5:45 pm - (november 29) 8:15 pm

    thu18oct - 20oct 189:00 amoct 20Westerner Dairy Showcase9:00 am - 6:00 pm (20)

    thu18oct7:00 pm- 10:00 pmThank You Canada Tour7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

    fri19oct - 21oct 1912:00 pmoct 21Red Deer Home Renovation & Design Show12:00 pm - 5:00 pm (21)

    fri19oct - 21oct 195:00 pmoct 21The New Earth Expo5:00 pm - 6:00 pm (21)

    fri19oct7:00 pm- 9:00 pmLibrary Libations Local Brews7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

    sat20oct - 21oct 2010:00 amoct 21Carswell's Annual Red Deer Christmas Antique, Vintage & Retro Show & Sale10:00 am - 4:00 pm (21)

    fri26oct - 28oct 2610:00 amoct 28Our Best to You Craft Sale10:00 am - 5:00 pm (28)

    sat27oct10:00 am- 2:00 pm2018 Red Deer Healthy Smiles Halloween Half Marathon10:00 am - 2:00 pm

    sun28oct10:00 am- 3:00 pmCVMGCA Motorcycle Fall Swapmeet10:00 am - 3:00 pm

    tue30oct - 4novoct 3010:00 amnov 4Canadian Finals Rodeo10:00 am - (november 4) 11:45 pm

    Trending

    [the_ad id="89560"]
    X