The Government of Canada has made significant accomplishments in three key areas: tackling crime by holding violent criminals accountable for their crimes, giving victims of crime a stronger voice, and increasing the efficiency of the Justice system. In total, over thirty measures have been enacted into law since 2006.
The Ending House Arrest for Property and Other Serious Crimes component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10) (Effective date: November 20, 2012)
These amendments restricted the use of conditional sentences including house arrests. A conditional sentence is a sentence of imprisonment that may be served in the community provided certain conditions are met. The amendments provided an expanded and clear list of offences for which conditional sentences are not available.
The Targeting Serious Drug Crime component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10) (Effective date: November 6, 2012)
The Safe Streets and Communities Act amended the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) to address serious organized drug crime. The CDSA now provides mandatory minimum penalties for serious drug offences, including those carried out for organized crime purposes and those that involve targeting youth. The legislation supported the National Anti-Drug Strategy's efforts to combat illicit drug production and distribution and help disrupt criminal enterprises by targeting drug suppliers.
The Protecting Canadians from Violent and Repeat Young Offenders component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10) (Effective date: October 23, 2012)
The Safe Streets and Communities Act included reforms designed to help ensure that violent and repeat young offenders are held fully accountable, and that the protection of society is given due consideration in applying the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The Protecting Children from Sexual Predators component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10) (Effective date: August 9, 2012)
The Safe Streets and Communities Act amended the Criminal Code to better protect children from sexual predators by ensuring that the penalties imposed for sexual offences against children are consistent and better reflect the heinous nature of these acts, and by creating two new offences that take aim at conduct that could facilitate the sexual abuse of a child.
The Increasing Offender Accountability component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10) (Effective date: June 13, 2012)
The Safe Streets and Communities Act included amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act that provide better support for victims of crime, increase offender accountability and ensure that the "protection of society" is the paramount principle of corrections and conditional release.
The International Transfer of Offenders component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10) (Effective date: May 3, 2012)
The Safe Streets and Communities Act amended the International Transfer of Offenders Act to enshrine in law a number of additional criteria that the Minister of Public Safety may consider when deciding whether to allow the transfer of a Canadian offender back to Canada to serve a sentence.
The Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10) (Effective date: March 13, 2012)
The Safe Streets and Communities Act amended Criminal Records Act, preventing the most serious criminals from seeking a record suspension.
The Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act (Bill S-9) (Effective dates: November 18, 2010 and April 29, 2011)
The Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act gave law enforcement and the courts better tools to tackle auto theft and the entire range of activities involved in the trafficking of all types of stolen or fraudulently obtained property.
The Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Shoker Act (Bill C-30) (Royal Assent March 23, 2011, effective date: pending)
These amendments and supporting regulations will help control repeat criminal behaviour by ensuring that individuals comply with court orders prohibiting drug and alcohol use.
Truth in Sentencing Act (Bill C-25) (Effective date: February 22, 2010)
This legislation provides the courts with clear guidance and limits for granting credit for time served in custody prior to conviction and sentencing.
Identity Theft and Related Misconduct (Bill S-4) (Effective date: January 8, 2010)
This legislation provides police and justice officials with important new tools in the fight against identity theft. The act created three new "core" Criminal Code offences targeting the early stages of identity-related crime, all subject to five-year maximum prison sentences.
An Act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime and protection of justice system participants) (Bill C-14) (Effective date: October 2, 2009)
This Act provided important new tools to fight the threats to Canadians posed by organized crime. The Act made murders connected to organized crime activity automatically first-degree, created a new offence to address drive-by and other reckless shootings, and created two new offences of aggravated assault against a peace or public officer and assault with a weapon on a peace or public officer.
The Tackling Violent Crime Act (Bill C-2) (Effective dates: May 1 and July 2, 2008).
The Tackling Violent Crime Act strengthened the Criminal Code in the following five areas:
- tougher mandatory jail time for serious gun crimes;
- new bail provisions requiring those accused of serious gun crimes to show why they should not be kept in jail while awaiting trial;
- better protection for youth from adult sexual predators (by increasing the age of protection for sexual activity from 14 years to 16 years);
- more effective sentencing and monitoring to prevent dangerous, high-risk offenders from re-offending; and
- new ways to detect and investigate drug-impaired driving and stronger penalties for impaired driving.
An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing) and to make a consequential amendment to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (Bill C-19) (Effective date: December 14, 2006)
This legislation aimed to protect Canada's streets and communities from the harm caused by street racing by creating new offences that increase penalties, including mandatory driving prohibitions for repeat offenders.
The Protecting Canada's Seniors Act (Bill C-36) (Effective date: January 13, 2013)
The Protecting Canada's Seniors Act better protects seniors by helping ensure tough sentences for those who take advantage of elderly Canadians. Evidence that an offence had a significant impact on the victims due to their age - and other personal circumstances such as their health or financial situation - must be considered an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.
Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act (Bill C-26) (Royal Assent: June 28, 2012, effective date: pending)
Under this legislation, an owner, a person in lawful possession of property, or someone authorized by them will be allowed to arrest a person within a reasonable amount of time after having found that person committing a criminal offence either on their property (e.g. when the offence occurs in their yard) or in relation to their property (e.g. when their property is stolen from a public parking lot).
The new citizen's arrest authority will only apply in circumstances when it is not feasible for a police officer to make the arrest. The police will continue to be Canada's first and foremost criminal law enforcement body.
This legislation will also reform the "self-defence" and "defence of property" provisions in the Criminal Code. These provisions have been simplified to make it easier to determine whether individuals who claim to have defended themselves, others, or their property, should be charged with or convicted of a criminal offence.
An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service (Bill C-22) (Effective date: December 8, 2011)
This legislation protects children from online sexual exploitation by requiring suppliers of Internet services to report online child pornography. It will help identify victims so they may be rescued, and will improve law enforcement's ability to identify, apprehend and prosecute offenders.
Protecting Victims from Sex Offenders Act (S-2) (Effective Date: April 15, 2011)
This legislation strengthens the National Sex Offender Registry and the National DNA Data Bank through the following fundamental reforms:
- automatic inclusion of convicted sex offenders in the registry;
- mandatory DNA sampling for convicted sex offenders;
- proactive use of the registry by police;
- registration of sex offenders convicted abroad;
- notifications to other police jurisdictions when high-risk registered offenders travel;
- operational and administrative amendments to enhance registry operations; and
- amendments to the National Defence Act.
Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act (Bill S-6) (Effective date: December 2, 2011)
This legislation ensures a "life" sentence means life by repealing the "faint-hope clause," which allows murderers to obtain early parole. Victims' families will be spared the anguish of attending repeated parole eligibility hearings and having to relive their losses over and over again.
Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act
(Bill C-48) (Effective dates: March 23 and December 2, 2011)
This legislation helps ensure that each life taken is acknowledged in the sentencing process and that those who commit multiple murders will serve a sentence that more adequately reflects the heinous nature of their crimes. It allows judges to impose consecutive parole ineligibility periods on individuals convicted of more than one first- or second-degree murder.
Abolition of Early Parole Act (Bill C-59) (Effective dates: March 23 and March 28, 2011)
This legislation abolishes the current system of Accelerated Parole Review, which allows those convicted of non-violent offences to obtain day parole after serving one-sixth of their sentence and full parole after serving one-third.
Standing Up For Victims of White Collar Crime Act (Bill C-21) (Effective date: November 1, 2011)
This legislation cracks down on white collar crime by toughening sentences for fraud, including a mandatory minimum penalty of imprisonment for frauds over $1 million, and by requiring judges to consider restitution for victims.
Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act (Bill C-10) (Effective date: March 13, 2012)
This legislation allows victims of terrorism to sue perpetrators and supporters of terrorism, including listed foreign states, for loss or damage that occurred as a result of an act of terrorism committed anywhere in the world.
Preventing the Trafficking, Abuse and Exploitation of Vulnerable Immigrants Act (Bill C-10) (Effective date: July 4, 2012)
This legislation would authorize immigration officers to refuse work permits to vulnerable foreign nationals when it is determined that they are at risk of humiliating or degrading treatment, including sexual exploitation or human trafficking.
Federal Victims Strategy:
The objective of the Federal Victims Strategy is to give victims a more effective voice in the criminal justice system. The Department of Justice works in close collaboration with other federal institutions, as well as victims, victim advocates, provincial and territorial governments, service providers and others involved in the criminal justice system. The Department of Justice develops policy and criminal law reform, funds various programs to meet the needs of victims of crime, and shares information about issues of importance to victims of crime.
Within the Federal Victim Strategy, the Victims Fund is a grants and contributions program administered by the Department of Justice. Funds are available each year to fund provinces, territories and non-governmental organizations whose projects, activities and operations support the objectives of the Federal Victims Strategy.
Since 2007, when the Government introduced the Federal Victims Strategy, more than $90 million has been committed to respond to the needs of victims of crime. Most recently, in Economic Action Plan 2012, the Government committed an additional $5 million over five years for new or enhanced Child Advocacy Centres (CACs), bringing the total Government of Canada commitment to CACs to $10.25 million.
Child Advocacy Centres aim to minimize the trauma of being a child victim of crime. CACs are a collaborative team of professionals who work in a child-friendly setting to help a child or youth victim or witness navigate the criminal justice system. The work of the CAC staff can greatly reduce the emotional and mental harm to the child.
Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime
The Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime is an independent resource for victims in Canada. The Office was created in 2007 to ensure that the federal government meets its responsibilities to victims of crime.
Victims can contact the Office to learn more about their rights under federal law and the services available to them, or to make a complaint about any federal agency or federal legislation dealing with victims of crime. In addition to its direct work with victims, the Office also works to ensure that policy makers and other criminal justice personnel are aware of victims' needs and concerns and to identify important issues and trends that may negatively impact victims. Where appropriate, the Ombudsman may also make recommendations to the federal government.
National Action Plan on Human Trafficking
Canada's National Action Plan, with participation from 18 federal departments, is a comprehensive blueprint to guide the Government of Canada's fight against the serious crime of human trafficking.
The National Action Plan will:
- launch Canada's first integrated law enforcement team dedicated to combating human trafficking;
- increase front-line training to identify and respond to human trafficking and enhance prevention in vulnerable communities;
- provide more support for victims of this crime, both Canadians and newcomers; and
- strengthen coordination with domestic and international partners who contribute to Canada's efforts to combat human trafficking.
These new measures, totalling $25 million over four years, build on and strengthen Canada's significant work to date to prevent, detect and prosecute human trafficking, such as targeted training for law enforcement officials and front-line service providers and enhanced public awareness measures.
Elder Abuse Initiative
In 2008, the Government of Canada launched the Federal Elder Abuse Initiative (FEAI), a successful $13 million, multi-departmental, three-year initiative to help seniors and others recognize the signs and symptoms of elder abuse and provide information on available supports. This initiative successfully concluded on March 31, 2011. Building on the momentum created through the FEAI, the Government remains active in addressing elder abuse through its elder abuse awareness campaigns and the New Horizons for Seniors Program.
The New Horizons for Seniors Program is designed to help ensure that seniors benefit from, and contribute to, the quality of life in their communities through social participation and active living. The program was expanded in 2007 to include elder abuse awareness activities. The elder abuse awareness objective of the program helps organizations develop national or regional education and awareness activities to reduce the incidence of abuse of seniors. Additional funds were announced in Budget 2010 for projects that focus on raising awareness of the financial abuse of seniors. In 2011, the Government increased its investments in the program by $5 million per year for two years, bringing the program's annual budget to $45 million. A portion of this funding will continue to support projects that expand awareness of elder abuse, including financial abuse.
JUSTICE SYSTEM EFFICIENCIES
Fair and Efficient Criminal Trials Act (Bill C-2) (Effective dates: August 15 and October 24, 2011)
This legislation ensures that "mega-trials," or large and complex cases involving illegal activities such as drug trafficking, white-collar crime, terrorism, organized crime or gang-related activity, can be heard more swiftly and effectively. The Fair and Efficient Criminal Trials Act will help improve Canada's justice system through stronger case management, reduced duplication of processes, and improved criminal procedure.
Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Criminal Procedure, Language of the Accused, Sentencing and Other Amendments) (Bill C-13) (Effective date: October 1, 2008)
This legislation included:
- improving court-related language rights provisions;
- making non-communication orders more easily available so that victims of crime can be better protected from unwanted communications from offenders serving a jail term;
- clarifying penalties for impaired driving offences;
- increasing the maximum fine for less-serious offences (summary convictions) from $2,000 to $5,000 (the amount had not been updated in more than 20 years);
- clarifying and codifying the current state of the law with respect to the language of trial provisions; and
- creating a more efficient process for executing out-of-province search warrants.