Grim picture…

Dec 12, 2019

CBC News – Sofia Rodriguez
Auditor General paints grim picture of Ontario’s jails

Ontario’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk is painting a picture of the Ontario jails that sums up critics’ concerns for some time now: Over-crowding, increase in remand (those held waiting for trial), especially remand with mental health issues, and failing capacity to deliver resources to inmates.  “And the correctional institutions don’t have sufficient help from nurses, psychologists and psychiatrists, which puts the correctional officers in a difficult situation, because they’re having to deal with these inmates and don’t have the training to help, as well,” said Lysyk.   Related article: Criminalization and Punishment Education Project (CPEP) JAIL hotline marks the end of year one and releases its third quarterly report

Good News – Terry Turner
The First Canadian City to Eliminate Homelessness –Here’s How They Did It

Medicine Hat, AB, is the first city (60,000 pop) to completely eliminate homelessness!  They made a rule that no person can stay in a shelter for more than 10 days before moving into permanent housing.  Medicine Hat adopted the “Housing First” plan, where the homeless are given a place to live first before tackling the underlying causes of their homelessness.   Related article: Senate of Canada – Senator Kim Pate   The need for a guaranteed liveable income for all Canadians

 CBC Radio
A former crown prosecutor makes the case for Indigenous justice

Former northern Saskatchewan crown prosecutor Harold Johnson, a Cree, walked away from the Law as a career when the court returned its verdict in the case of the murdered Colten Boushie.  The link offers part of a conversation with the CBC’s Michael Enright in which Johnson explains his position on justice for the Indigenous person.  The opinion is published in Sept 2019 entitled Peace and Good Order: The Case for Indigenous Justice in Canada and available on line or in bookstores.   Related article: CBC News   ‘State of continual crisis’: Alberta Crown prosecutors overworked, understaffed

 CBC News (Montreal)
‘All French Canadians’ are Catholic, Quebec premier tells governor of California

The conversation with California governor Gavin Newson took an odd turn in the light of the present court challenge to Quebec Bill 21 forbidding the wearing of any religious symbols by public persons.  Premier Francois Legault told the governor that all Quebecers are Catholic, a perspective obviously not true – 75% say they are while churches are closing all over Quebec – and alarming to many ecumenical and non-Christian Quebecers.  “On Thursday, Quebec’s Court of Appeal will decide whether to suspend the law, widely referred to as Bill 21 or the Laicity Act.”  Related article: CBC News – Jonathan Montpetit   One law, many challenges: How lawyers are trying to overturn Quebec’s religious symbols ban: Here’s an overview of the 4 different lawsuits that have been brought against Bill 21

  Pew Charitable Foundation (US) – Dana Shoenberg
3 Reformers Transforming Juvenile Justice

The basic thesis of this analysis leaves somewhat of a scary perspective.  Identifying three states where the research is dictating the legal approach to juveniles leads one to wonder what dictated the approach previously and still for so many other states.  Kansas, South Dakota, and Hawaii have begun to change the policy of assigning youth to out-of-home facilities:  “Although the details vary, these leaders all said reform was necessary because their states were sending high numbers of low-level, low-risk youth to expensive out-of-home facilities and getting poor returns on those investments. They also agreed that using data and research to change minds and shape policy was critical to their states’ success, and they celebrated the opportunity presented by reform to redirect funds previously used for incarceration to strengthen evidence-based community programs.”  Related article: American Friends Service Committee (Arizona) Expanding Women’s Incarceration Is Not the Solution:  ‘This crisis is not one of inadequate prison space; it’s the crisis of a system that chooses punishment over healing…’

The New Press – Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law
Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms

The challenge to the use of electronic and alternate imprisonment approaches has attracted a foreword from well-known advocate Michelle Alexander.  “Journalists Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law reveal the way the kinder, gentler narrative of reform can obscure agendas of social control and challenge us to question the ways we replicate the status quo when pursuing change.”

Globe and Mail – Kelly Grant
Alberta will force patients to switch from biologics to cheaper biosimilar medications

This development in the face of promised government action on a national pharmaceutical plan is cause for concern.  The cost difference in the secondary medication known as biosimilars is anticipated to save about $220 million on government sponsored drug plans.  BC is the only other government using this approach.  “Biologics are complex medications produced from living organisms and injected or infused into patients. They have dramatically improved the health of people with debilitating diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease – chronic illnesses for which there used to be few good treatment options.”  On the other hand, biosimilars are near copies of biologics whose patent has expired.  Critics challenge the decision but there will be an exemption process to the formula by doctors.

CBC News – Jorge Barrea
House passes motion calling on Ottawa to pay First Nations child welfare compensation ordered by tribunal

The compensation to First Nations child welfare has been ordered by the Human Rights Tribunal and is now facing challenge by the government in the SCC.  NDP member Charlie Angus tabled the non-binding motion which would allow the opposition, if ignored, to call for inquiry for defiance of Parliament.  The (Human Rights) tribunal told Ottawa to pay $40,000 each to First Nations children — along with some of their parents and grandparents — who were apprehended from their families and communities through the on-reserve child welfare system and in Yukon.”