Reforms giving victims a greater voice in our justice system and that strengthen the National Sex Offender Registry are now law

News release

Reforms giving victims a greater voice in our justice system and that strengthen the National Sex Offender Registry are now law

October 26, 2023 – Ottawa, Ontario – Government of Canada

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Everyone in Canada deserves to be safe and feel safe, including by knowing that the police have the tools they need to prevent and investigate crime and protect their communities.

Victims and survivors of crime must have a voice in the criminal justice process and be treated with compassion, respect, and dignity, including by making the system easier to navigate. That is why the Government of Canada introduced Criminal Code amendments to make the criminal justice system more responsive to the needs of victims and strengthen the National Sex Offender Registry.

Today, this important piece of legislation, Bill S-12, received Royal Assent and became law. The Government of Canada is grateful to the many survivors and experts who shared their experiences and advocated for these important changes.

To empower victims and survivors of crime we have made the process to amend or revoke a publication ban clear and easy to follow. The law now requires more direct conversations with victims about whether a publication ban should be imposed in the first place and streamlines the process for removing a publication ban if the victim no longer wants it. This legislation also makes clear that victims who choose to keep a publication ban in place for their protection can share their personal information in certain circumstances, such as private conversations and in support group sessions.

We have also made changes to the Criminal Code to make navigating the justice system simpler and easier for victims. Today’s amendments will ensure that victims are told about their right to receive – or to decline to receive – ongoing information about a case after sentencing. The law now requires judges to ensure that victims have been asked if they would like to receive ongoing information, provides victims with an easy and quick way to indicate whether they wish to receive ongoing information on their Victim Impact Statement ; and requires courts, with the consent of the victim, to share preferences and contact information with the Correctional Service of Canada so that victims receive information to which they are entitled.

Other important Criminal Code amendments will ensure that the National Sex Offender Registry can continue to be an effective tool to prevent and investigate sexual crimes that is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It does this by ensuring that:

  • child sexual offenders sentenced to at least two years in prison are registered automatically;
  • repeat sexual offenders are registered automatically; and,
  • all other sexual offenders must be registered unless they can demonstrate that they pose no risk to the community.

We have also expanded the list of offences that require registration on the National Sex Offender Registry to include serious crimes like “sextortion” and the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. The changes ensure that police continue to have access to an important tool to prevent and investigate heinous sexual crimes, which disproportionately affect women and children and can have devastating impacts on victims and survivors.


“Today, important legislation became law. This bill gives victims a greater voice in our criminal justice system and make the National Sex Offender Registry more effective. This bill addresses important recommendations made by victims, and victim’s groups and responds to a Supreme Court of Canada decision on the National Sex Offender Registry. Taken together, these amendments strengthen our justice system by helping ensure victims and survivors are protected, that their rights are respected and that their voices are heard.”

The Honourable Arif Virani, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

“As the nature of criminal activity evolves, so must the legislative and other enforcement mechanisms that law enforcement agencies use to do their job. That is exactly what we are doing with these amendments to the sex offender registry regime, which will further empower victims of crime while giving police more tools to keep Canadians safe.” 

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc
Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs

“When we saw a gap in the law, we moved quickly to make sure that victims and survivors of gender-based violence and sexual assault were supported in their healing and can rebuild their lives. This new law, and these amendments, are all about making sure people are safe, protected, and be heard when they come forward after experiencing gender-based violence, and I am so pleased to see it come in effect today.”

The Honourable Marci Ien
Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Youth

Quick facts

  • On October 28, 2022, in the case of R. v. Ndhlovu, the Supreme Court of Canada found that two Criminal Code provisions relating to the National Sex Offender Registry were inconsistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and struck them down:

    • the first was the automatic registration of all individuals convicted or found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder, of designated sexual offences.
    • the second was the mandatory lifetime registration for individuals convicted of more than one sexual offence in the same prosecution.
  • Publication bans can be a useful tool to shield the identity of victims, witnesses and justice system participants and protect them from further harm.

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Chantalle Aubertin
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada

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