Statement by Minister Lametti on Royal Assent of legislation to improve the flexibility and efficiency of the criminal justice system
December 16, 2022 - Ottawa, Ontario - Department of Justice Canada
The Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today issued the following statement:
“The Government of Canada is committed to keeping Canadians safe and making the criminal justice system more accessible, efficient and effective. This includes supporting the increased use of technology in courts across Canada.
“Yesterday, Bill S-4 received Royal Assent, marking an important milestone in modernizing our criminal justice system and enhancing access to justice in Canada. Bill S-4 reforms the Criminal Code, the Identification of Criminals Act and other federal legislation to help address the challenges faced by criminal courts, particularly those caused or highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes will come into effect on January 14, 2023.
“These amendments will help our courts address persistent negative impacts of the pandemic, including case backlogs, by granting courts increased flexibility in how they hold criminal proceedings and issue orders. It will also enhance and clarify rules for remote hearings and improve processes related to jury selection, telewarrants and fingerprinting. This new law aims to increase the flexibility and efficiency of the criminal justice system, while protecting the rights of all participants.
“I am grateful for the support of Parliamentarians in both the House of Commons and the Senate for seeing this legislation through to Royal Assent. We are confident these changes will make a difference in improving access to justice for all Canadians, now and in the future.”
- Bill S-4 was introduced on February 8, 2022, and proposed targeted changes to the Criminal Code that would give courts increased flexibility in how they hold criminal proceedings and issue orders. These changes do not compromise public safety, or participants’ rights and freedoms, and support greater access to justice moving forward, particularly for those living in remote communities.
- The changes proposed under Bill S-4 passed in Parliament without any amendments. Only two additions were adopted by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs and included in the Bill. These include:
- a requirement for the Minister of Justice to conduct an independent review of the use of remote proceedings in criminal justice matters no later than three years after the day the Bill receives Royal Assent and to report back to each House of Parliament no later than five years after the day the review has been started; and
- a requirement for a parliamentary review at the start of the fifth year after the day the Bill receives Royal Assent.
- Former Bill C-75 introduced measures to reduce delays and modernize the criminal justice system. This legislation received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019 and included key components to transform the criminal justice system to make it more efficient, effective, fair and accessible for everyone.
- In addition, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada has been kept apprised of the challenges faced by courts across Canada in his role as co-chair of the Action Committee on Court Operations in Response to COVID-19. The Committee was established in May 2020 to provide leadership and national-level guidance on court operations during the pandemic and in its aftermath.
- Changes to improve the operation of the criminal justice system and address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic (former Bill S-4)
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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