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CA — The Roles and Responsibilities of Central Agencies

July 10, 2015 Comments off

The Roles and Responsibilities of Central Agencies
Source: Library of Parliament

The Canadian federal government is composed of approximately 150 departments, agencies, Crown corporations, commissions and other organizations.1 The mandates of these organizations is usually set out in founding legislation, and the general roles and responsibilities of the organizations can often be inferred from their name; for example, Health Canada and Environment Canada have overall responsibility for the federal role in health and the environment respectively.

In order to try to manage this large and diverse set of organizations, the federal government has four central agencies: the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and the Department of Finance Canada.2 The term “central agency” has no formal definition and does not reflect a definitive classification. Instead, the term is generally used to designate organizations that have a central coordinating role. These organizations work across government departments to provide advice to the prime minister and Cabinet, and to ensure policy coherence and coordination on their behalf. Central agencies have either formal or informal authority over other departments and often direct their actions. Line departments, on the other hand, provide services directly to Canadians and do not have the authority or mandate to direct other departments in their operations.

The goal of this paper is to explain the key roles and responsibilities of each central agency and to discuss issues facing each of them.

CA — Health Product Risk Communication: Is the Message Getting Through?

June 11, 2015 Comments off

Health Product Risk Communication: Is the Message Getting Through?
Source: Council of Canadian Academies

Health Product Risk Communication: Is the Message Getting Through? synthesizes the available evidence on risk communication, health product risk communication tools, evaluation methods, and barriers and facilitators to effective communication and successful evaluation activities. It is intended primarily as a tool to inform evaluation and decision-making within government departments and agencies responsible for risk communication and interested in improving their efforts. The report may also be of interest to Canadians as they seek to remain informed about how to best communicate, interpret, and understand the risks associated with health products.

Ultimately, evaluation is essential to determine if health product risk communications are effective. Without adequate evaluation, not only is there potential for mistakes, but there is also the risk of missing opportunities to continue or build on proven successes.

Key Findings

  • Recognition of the importance of dialogue and ongoing relationships is prompting a paradigm shift for risk communication.
  • Regulators around the world use similar health product risk communication tools that are not systematically evaluated.
  • Evaluation is an integral part of risk communication and can be supported with institutional commitment and sufficient resources.
  • Careful planning determines relevant evaluation questions, which guide evaluation methods.

Mental health and contact with police in Canada, 2012

June 9, 2015 Comments off

Mental health and contact with police in Canada, 2012
Source: Statistics Canada

Canadians can come into contact with the police for a variety of reasons, not all of which are criminal in nature. Previous research has indicated that most people with a mental health disorder do not commit criminal acts; however, contact with police is common among this population (Brink et al. 2011; Coleman and Cotton 2014). Furthermore, the frequency of such interactions has been said to be on the rise in recent decades given policy and legislative changes (Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division 2005; Vancouver Police Department 2013; Lurigio and Watson 2010). For instance, while the process of deinstitutionalization shifted the treatment of mental health disorders from a hospital setting to a community setting, it has been argued that community based supports may not have expanded at the same capacity to make up for the loss of institutional services, which can leave police as the first responders in crisis situations or after regular health facility hours (Coleman and Cotton 2014; Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division 2005).

Information on police interactions with people who have a mental health disorder is a priority for various reasons. Firstly, they can be among the most unpredictable and dangerous situations to which officers must respond, and can be equally, if not more, dangerous for the person with the disorder (Chappell 2008; Kerr et al. 2010; Coleman and Cotton 2014; Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division 2005). Secondly, while the majority of such interactions are handled without harm to the officer or the person with a disorder, these interactions can be quite time-consuming, often utilizing a large portion of resources not only from police services, but from the health and social sectors as well (Lurigio and Watson 2010).

CA — Office of the Correctional Investigator Releases Administrative Segregation in Federal Corrections: 10 Year Trends — Federal Corrections Overuses Segregation to Manage Inmates

June 3, 2015 Comments off

Office of the Correctional Investigator Releases Administrative Segregation in Federal Corrections: 10 Year Trends — Federal Corrections Overuses Segregation to Manage Inmates
Source: Office of the Correctional Investigator

For more than 20 years, the Office of the Correctional Investigator has extensively documented the fact that administrative segregation is significantly overused. Segregation is the most austere and depriving form of incarceration that the state can legally administer in Canada. Today’s Statistical Report highlights just how often the practice is used in federal corrections. With an inmate population of just over 14,500 the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) made 8,300 placements in administrative segregation in last fiscal year.

In releasing his report, Mr. Howard Sapers, Correctional Investigator of Canada, said “There is no escaping the fact that administrative segregation has become overused as a population management tool to address tensions and conflicts in federal correctional facilities.” During the reporting period, 27% of the inmate population experienced at least one placement in administrative segregation. “Segregation is so frequently used that half (48%) of the current inmate population has experienced segregation at least once during their present sentence,” Sapers added.

Administrative segregation is commonly used to manage mentally ill offenders, self-injurious offenders and those at risk of suicide. The report found that inmates in administrative segregation are twice more likely to have a history of self-injury and attempted suicide, and 31% more likely to have a mental health issue. 68% of inmates at the Regional Treatment Centres (designated psychiatric hospitals) have a history of administrative segregation. Sapers stated that “this is further evidence that the CSC uses segregation to manage behaviours associated with mental illness.”

+ Full Report

Canada’s Anti–Money Laundering and Anti–Terrorist Financing Regime: The Legal Profession’s Obligations

May 25, 2015 Comments off

Canada’s Anti–Money Laundering and Anti–Terrorist Financing Regime: The Legal Profession’s Obligations
Source: Library of Parliament

On 13 February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that certain provisions of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act that impose obligations on lawyers violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The decision, in Canada (Attorney General) v. Federation of Law Societies of Canada, confirmed that legislation cannot enforce obligations on lawyers that would undermine solicitor–client privilege.

In exempting lawyers from the Act, Canada – like the United States and Australia – is among the few Financial Action Task Force members that do not impose obligations on lawyers as part of their anti–money laundering and anti–terrorist financing regime.

According to the Task Force, criminals may use lawyers to facilitate illegal financial transactions, particularly when they are acting as financial intermediaries.

Legal Status at the Federal Level of Assisted Human Reproduction in Canada

May 19, 2015 Comments off

Legal Status at the Federal Level of Assisted Human Reproduction in Canada
Source: Library of Parliament

The world’s first “test-tube baby,” the result of fertilizing a human ovum in vitro and transferring the resulting embryo to a woman’s uterus, was born in England in 1978. This achievement followed decades of clinical and laboratory research. It also catalyzed interest in a new area of medical ethics as multiple technological advances, along with their implications for genetics, posed new ethical questions and responsibilities.

This paper provides an overview of the many steps that the Canadian federal government has taken to establish a legislative and regulatory framework for reproductive technologies and related research. This background includes a description of the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies, early attempts at legislation and a discussion of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, in force since 2004, including its list of prohibited activities. The constitutional challenge to the legislation that was brought by the Attorney General of Quebec and ultimately heard by the Supreme Court of Canada is reviewed. Finally, the federal government’s response to the Supreme Court decision in the form of amendments to the Act is summarized. This paper does not examine how activities related to assisted human reproduction may be regulated by the provinces.

Police resources in Canada, 2014

April 8, 2015 Comments off

Police resources in Canada, 2014
Source: Statistics Canada

There were 68,896 police officers in Canada on May 15, 2014, 354 fewer officers than in 2013. This represented a rate of police strength of 194 police officers per 100,000 population, a decrease of 1.6% from the previous year. After remaining stable in 2011,Note 2 the rate has decreased every year since.

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