Safe Streets and Communities Act (D)

Mr. Glenn Thibeault: Madam Speaker, the hon. member talked about the important measures we are trying to bring forward with many of the amendments.

One of the issues that caught my attention in the member’s speech relates to support for individuals with mental health issues. In my riding of Sudbury, the Canadian Mental Health Association does great work with those individuals. However, we are starting to see more and more individuals who require mental health services ending up in jails and not necessarily getting the services they need. What we do not want our prison system to become is the next system for individuals with mental health issues to get those services.

I would like to hear the hon. member’s comments as to what we see coming forward for individuals with mental health issues and how the bill would do anything to change that or even support them.

Ms. Elizabeth May: Madam Speaker, it is clear there were attempts to amend this legislation. The witnesses appearing on behalf of the Toronto Lawyers Association and others on behalf of the legal community argued that this legislation should be amended to take into account mental health issues. That was not possible at committee. Those amendments were not given adequate opportunity to be discussed.

In this set of amendments, we are bringing forward a safety valve that deals with mental health issues.

This legislation would criminalize the mentally ill. We are not seeing the resources that are needed in prisons to help people with mental health issues, nor are the mental health issues on the streets being addressed. If we are not dealing with it and we are not helping those individuals, we are jailing them.