Addressing Systemic Racism: Budget 2021, Budget 2022, and Fall Economic Statement 2020 support for Criminal Justice Reform


Budget 2021 & Budget 2022

Indigenous Justice Strategy

In consultation and cooperation with Indigenous and provincial and territorial partners, Justice Canada is developing an Indigenous Justice Strategy to address systemic discrimination and the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the justice system.

Budget 2021 provided $11 million in funding, until March 2024, to support Indigenous-led community engagement, as well as collaboration between Indigenous groups and the federal government, as a first step towards developing an Indigenous Justice Strategy in Canada.

From December 13, 2021 to January 24, 2022, Justice Canada held a call for proposals to support Indigenous peoples and eligible organizations to undertake Indigenous-led engagement to gather input, ideas and proposals to inform the development of a future Indigenous Justice Strategy.

Through this call for proposals, Justice Canada provided $11 million in funding to 38 Indigenous communities, organizations, and governments to undertake their own engagement activities from 2022 to 2024.

Re-establishing of the Law Commission of Canada

Making the justice system more responsive to the changing needs of society is a priority for the Government of Canada, as well as a key principle of a functioning democracy. This includes ensuring that Canadian laws are fair, equitable, and work to create a better Canada for all.

Through the release of Budget 2021, the Government of Canada announced investments of $18 million over 5 years, and $4 million ongoing to revive the Law Commission of Canada to provide independent expertise on matters related to the improvement, modernization, and reform of Canadian laws. The Commission will work to develop new approaches to the law to address systemic racism both in legislation and in the legal system, support reconciliation efforts with Indigenous peoples and consider important issues, such as access to justice, legal issues around climate change, and rapid technological shifts in the world.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UNDA) funding supports a broad, inclusive, and distinctions-based consultation and cooperation process with Indigenous peoples to advance implementation of the UN Declaration at a federal level. Approximately $23.6 million in funding was made available to support Indigenous participation in the engagement process, including support for Indigenous-led consultations. A call for proposals was held from December 2021 to April 2022. Funding will help support Indigenous partners in conducting research and analysis and consulting their members and citizens to identify priorities for the action plan and measures to ensure federal laws are consistent with the UN Declaration.

Budget 2022 proposes to provide $65.8 million over five years, starting in 2022-23, and $11 million ongoing, to Justice Canada and Natural Resources Canada. This funding will help to accelerate work to meet legislated requirements, including the co-development of an action plan with Indigenous partners.

Budget 2021 provided $31.5 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to support the implementation of the Act. This includes approximately $23.6 million over two years to support Indigenous peoples’ participation in the implementation of the Act.

Justice Data Modernization

To modernize Canada’s justice system, support evidence-based policies, and ensure accountability within the criminal justice system, the Government needs to update and fill gaps in its collection and use of data.

Under Budget 2021, Justice Canada and Statistics Canada received $6.7 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, and $1.4 million ongoing, to improve the collection and use of disaggregated data. This is part of ongoing efforts to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous people and racialized groups in the justice system.

Youth Justice Diversion Programming

Budget 2021 provided $216.4 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, and $43.3 million ongoing for the Youth Justice Services Funding Program to increase funding to the provinces and territories in support of diversion programming and to help reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous people, Black persons, and other racialized groups in the youth justice system. By diverting youth to the right services at the right time and addressing the root causes of crime, this measure will help reduce the crime rate and promote better outcomes for young people and their communities.

Legal Services and Supports for Racialized Communities

To help build a strong justice system with fair outcomes for all, the government made investments to support access to legal information and advice for racialized communities.

As part of this commitment, Budget 2021 provided $21.5 million over five years for a Racialized Communities Legal Support Initiative. This supports organizations that provide free public legal education and information as well as organizations that provide legal services and advice to racialized communities.

Criminal Legal Aid

Budget 2022 proposes to provide $60 million in 2023-24 to increase the federal contribution to criminal legal aid services to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous people, individuals from Black and other racialized communities, and those with mental health issues before the criminal courts, and to further support a justice system that remains fair and accessible to all Canadians.

Immigration and Refugee Legal Aid

For those who cannot afford legal support, immigration and refugee legal aid can provide eligible asylum claimants and individuals facing certain immigration proceedings, with legal information, advice, and representation. These services, delivered by legal aid providers in seven provinces, help facilitate fair, efficient, and effective asylum claimant processing.

As well, Budget 2021 made available $26.8 million to enable participating provinces to maintain immigration and refugee legal aid support for asylum seekers, while protecting the efficiency and integrity of the asylum system.

Budget 2022 provided $43.5 million in 2022-23 to maintain federal support at $55 million for immigration and refugee legal aid services.

Fall Economic Statement 2020

The Fall Economic Statement (FES) announced several important investments to address systemic racism in the criminal justice system. The FES funding will provide much needed support for organizations and programs that help address the inequities faced by Indigenous people, Black persons, and racialized Canadians in the criminal justice system, with the goal of creating a fair and more effective criminal justice system for all. These initiatives will help support the changes brought about by An Act to Amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, (former Bill C-5).

Support for Gladue Principles and reporting

The Government of Canada is investing $49.3 million over five years and $9.7 million ongoing to support the preparation of Gladue reports and community-based aftercare for individuals who have had a report, as well as in community-led projects to address bias and other systemic barriers against Indigenous people in the criminal justice system.

The funding provides support for projects informed by Gladue Principles that focus on systemic change to address bias and other barriers against Indigenous people in the criminal justice system.

This will help to address systemic barriers for Indigenous people in the criminal justice system by ensuring the background and systemic factors that bring Indigenous people into contact with the justice system are taken into account at sentencing, and to help inform reasonable alternatives to sentencing for Indigenous accused.

Support for Criminal Legal Aid

The 2020 Fall Economic Statement decision provided $49.9 million over two years starting in 2020-21 for Justice Canada ($40 million), Court Administration Services ($9.2 million) and the Supreme Court of Canada ($0.7 million) to support court operations and access to justice by increasing the federal government’s legal aid support for provinces and territories.

Following the announcement, Justice Canada worked with provinces and territories to determine their anticipated fiscal needs, which resulted in having this funding reprofiled to 2021-22 ($10 million) and 2022-23 ($30 million). The investment of $40 million over two years will increase the federal government’s criminal legal aid support to provinces and territories to address anticipated backlogs and support the further implementation of technological and other innovations that have become a requirement for legal aid plans throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Support for Impact of Race and Culture Assessments (IRCAs)

The Government of Canada’s investment of $6.6 million over five years, and $1.6 million of ongoing funding, will support the implementation of IRCAs, which assist sentencing judges in considering the disadvantages and systemic racism that contributed to racialized Canadians’ interactions with the criminal justice system.

This investment will support training and awareness on the implementation of IRCAs, with the goal of making this important tool a part of the criminal justice system across the country.

Support to Community Justice Centres (CJCs)

Community Justice Centres are an innovative approach for moving justice out of the traditional courtroom, and into a community setting. CJCs bring health, employment, and social services to address root causes of crime, divert non-violent offenders away from prison and connect them to social supports. Through the integration of culturally appropriate services, CJCs can help decrease the overrepresentation of Indigenous people, Black persons, and racialized Canadians in the criminal justice system and provide solutions to systemic issues.

The Government of Canada investment of $28.6 million over five years will support Community Justice Centres pilot projects in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario as well as consultations to expand the Community Justice Centre concept to other provinces and territories.

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