Government of Canada announces Criminal Code reforms to modernize the criminal justice system and reduce delays

News release

Legislation marks the next step in transforming the criminal justice system

June 21, 2019 - Ottawa, Ontario - Department of Justice Canada

Canadians deserve an efficient and effective criminal justice system that protects the vulnerable, meets the needs of victims, keeps our communities safe, and respects the rights of accused. Delays in the criminal justice system impact everyone affected by crime – victims, families, communities, as well as the accused.

Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced that Bill C-75 has received Royal Assent after being carefully reviewed by Parliament. These comprehensive legislative changes mark an important milestone in strengthening, transforming and modernizing our criminal justice system. Together, these comprehensive changes will help bring about a much needed culture shift in the way our criminal justice system operates.

The reforms contained in Bill C-75 reflect collaborative efforts to address delays in the criminal justice system and were identified as priorities by federal, provincial, and territorial justice ministers. These measures will also help reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous people and vulnerable populations in the criminal justice system, including people with addictions and mental illness. They will also strengthen the criminal law’s response to intimate partner violence as well as violence against Indigenous women and girls, as called for by the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released June 3, 2019.

The reforms will make the criminal law and the criminal justice system clearer and more efficient, including by:

  • streamlining bail processes to ensure fair and swift access to justice
  • creating a new process to more effectively and efficiently deal with certain administration of justice offences, including for youth
  • reclassifying offences to provide prosecutors with the discretion to more efficiently deal with less serious conduct, freeing up limited judicial resources
  • restricting the availability of preliminary inquiries to the offences carrying the most serious penalties to ensure criminal cases can proceed more efficiently to trial, and to reduce the impacts of testifying twice on victims
  • improving the jury selection process to make it more transparent and promote fairness and impartiality
  • providing judges with more robust tools to manage the cases before them

In addition, Bill C-75 merged reforms previously introduced in other bills:

  • Building on the amendments in Bill C-28, Bill C-75 re-enacts the victim surcharge regime with greater judicial discretion to impose the surcharge, in response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s December 2018 decision in R v Boudreault
  • Bill C-38, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in people), which brings into force new provisions to facilitate the prosecution of human trafficking offences
  • Bill C-75 also builds on the amendments in Bill C-39, by repealing provisions previously declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada or appellate courts and repealing related offences (for example: the prohibition of abortion, bawdy house offences, vagrancy, anal intercourse, etc.)

The Bill will come into force in stages. Parts of the law will come into force upon Royal Assent (repeal of unconstitutional provisions and human trafficking), some will come into force 30 days after Royal Assent (victim surcharge), some 90 days after Royal Assent (preliminary inquiries, reclassification of indictable offences, judicial case management, jury provisions, and miscellaneous measures to enhance efficiencies), and others 180 days after Royal Assent (bail, administration of Justice offences, Youth Criminal Justice Act amendments, and intimate partner violence). 

Quotes

“I’m incredibly pleased to see this legislation passed into law, and I’m thankful to all Parliamentarians in both the House of Commons and the Senate for their support for the Bill and helpful amendments. These reforms will ensure that our criminal justice system keeps communities safe, respects victims, and ensures respect for Charter rights while holding offenders to account.”

The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Quick facts

  • Canada’s criminal justice system is a shared responsibility between federal, provincial and territorial governments. The federal government is responsible for the Criminal Code and prosecutions in the territories and of federal offences; the provinces and territories are responsible for administering the criminal justice system.

  • The vast majority of the proposals with respect to delays included in this package have been the subject of extensive federal-provincial-territorial consultation and collaboration. 

  • The Government also continues to consult more broadly with stakeholders and Canadians in support of the ongoing review of the criminal justice system.

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Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Rachel Rappaport
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice
613-992-6568

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada
613-957-4207
media@justice.gc.ca


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