Kelowna MP's proposed changes to addictions treatment in federal prisons voted down

MP's bill voted down

Kelowna-Lake Country MP Tracy Gray’s private members bill proposing changes in how addictions treatment is delivered in federal prisons has been defeated.

Bill C-283 sought changes to the Criminal Code and Corrections and Conditional Release Act but was voted down Wednesday by the Liberals and NDP.

The vote fell mostly down party lines, with the Conservatives and Bloc voting in support.

“Canadians are suffering, and everything feels broken,” said Gray in a news release Wednesday.

“Conservatives brought forward a solution that would offer an important tool to help reduce recidivism, address our mental health and addiction crisis, provide hope for those struggling with addiction, and improve the public safety of our communities.”

Private member bills like Gray’s rarely become law and the federal Liberals announced last year that they would not support the bill.

The bill proposed to take substance use treatments from existing integrated corrections services and move them to designated treatment facilities where offenders could serve their terms. It would provide a wider range of sentencing options for the justice system.

Pam Damoff, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, said in October last year in the House of Commons that isolating treatment services “could create negative outcomes for offenders.”

“People living with substance use disorders are not necessarily ready for active treatment. A spectrum of supports, which is not limited to active addiction treatment, must be explored and available to offenders living with substance use disorders,” Damoff said, noting that the facilities proposed by Gray don’t currently exist in Canada.

Damoff said the Liberals were also concerned the changes “could have a number of unintended negative consequences, including for overrepresented populations in the federal correctional system, such as indigenous and Black offenders.”

Gray, meanwhile, says the opposition to her ideas shows that the Liberals and NDP are committed to “failed approach that leaves addicts trapped in their addictions and our streets less safe.”

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