Justice Canada providing funding to support mental health within the justice system
August 13, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada
Canadians expect that their justice system will provide equal access to justice, as well as supporting and protecting people who are participants in the justice system.
Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada announced the Government of Canada’s support to the Canadian Juries Commission for their project: British Columbia Jury Support Pilot: Jury Duty Peer Support and Mental Health First Aid and Wellness Training for Sheriffs and Court Officers. The project aims to encourage the support and participation of Canadian citizens in jury duty, by providing in-trial and post-trial support for jurors and promoting the importance of mental health within the justice system.
The Canadian Juries Commission will create two mental health training and support programs for Canadians serving jury duty and pilot them exclusively in British Columbia. The pilot will be supported and implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of the Attorney General of British Columbia. The project will develop and implement mental health first aid and wellness training for BC Sheriffs Service and court staff who manage jurors throughout trials. The training is designed to address jury needs and deliver mental health support directly to jurors in court. A Jury Duty Peer Support group will also be established, providing mental health support, workplace resiliency and social support for jurors post-trial.
The Department of Justice is providing funding for $509,400 over four fiscal years through its Justice Partnership and Innovation Program. This program supports activities that respond effectively to the changing conditions affecting Canadian justice policy.
“Our government is committed to improving the well-being of Canadians who participate in the justice system. Groups such as the Canadian Juries Commission have done critical work to promote the importance of mental health for people who serve on juries. That is why I am so happy to support their project. The pandemic has impacted the mental health of Canadians and it is important to connect them with the supports and resources they need.”
The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
“British Columbians who serve on jury duty often hear disturbing details about tragic stories. I am grateful we can partner with the Government of Canada to deliver mental health and wellness supports to those who play an integral role in delivering justice for British Columbians. Juries provide vital public service, and we will work together to keep them safe and healthy during and after their jury duty.”
Honourable Sheila Malcolmson,
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
“Jury duty is the most important civic duty in our democracy and a responsibility owned by all Canadians. The Canadian Juries Commission is deeply grateful for the support of the Government of Canada and Department of Justice to build mental health programs assisting jurors, in partnership with the Attorney General of British Columbia. It is our duty to support jurors during their service to our justice system.”
Canadian Juries Commission
The Canadian Juries Commission conducted a national opinion study in June 2020, which identified that only 18% of Canadians indicated a willingness to participate in jury duty.
Former jurors have reported becoming re-traumatized from similar cases in the media, or experiencing trauma from parole-hearings of offenders in their own cases – often wishing there was a support service available to them.
Forty per cent of Canadians reported that their mental health deteriorated last year, and for those with pre-existing mental health conditions that number rose to 61 per cent.
Since 2015, the government has provided funding to the provinces and territories to improve mental health services, made significant investments to support Indigenous mental health services, and has launched innovative virtual mental health care tools throughout the pandemic.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Department of Justice Canada
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