ARCHIVED — Vol. 146, No. 13 — June 20, 2012

Registration

SI/2012-40 June 20, 2012

SAFE STREETS AND COMMUNITIES ACT

Order Fixing June 13, 2012 as the Day on which Sections 52 to 107 and 147 of the Act Come into Force

P.C. 2012-770 June 7, 2012

His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, pursuant to subsection 166(1) of the Safe Streets and Communities Act, chapter 1 of the Statutes of Canada, 2012, fixes June 13, 2012 as the day on which sections 52 to 107 and 147 of that Act come into force.

EXPLANATORY NOTE

(This note is not part of the Order.)

Proposal

The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness proposes, pursuant to subsection 166(1) of the Safe Streets and Communities Act, to fix the coming into force date of sections 52 to 107 and 147 as June 13, 2012. These sections amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA).

Objective

To seek the approval of the Governor in Council to fix June 13, 2012, as the coming into force date of sections 52 to 107 and 147 of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10). The CCRA is the legislative framework for federal corrections and conditional release systems in Canada. The purpose of the CCRA is to contribute to the maintenance of a peaceful, just and safe society by carrying out sentences imposed by the courts through the safe and humane custody of offenders and assisting in the rehabilitation and reintegration of these offenders.

Background

The Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10) fulfills the Government’s June 2011 Speech from the Throne commitment to “move quickly to re-introduce comprehensive law-and-order legislation to combat crime and terrorism.” Bill C-10 is comprised of nine former criminal justice bills that were not fully considered in the previous session of Parliament.

Part 1 includes new measures to deter terrorism by supporting victims of terrorism and amending the State Immunity Act (former S-7). Part 2 includes sentencing reforms that target sexual offences against children (former C-54) and serious drug offences (former S-10), as well as prevent the use of conditional sentences for serious violent and property crimes (former C-16).

Part 3 includes post-sentencing reforms to increase offender accountability (former C-39); eliminate pardons for serious crimes (former C-23B); and strengthen the international transfer of offenders regime (former C-5). Part 4 includes reforms to youth criminal justice (former C-4), and Part 5 includes immigration reforms to protect vulnerable foreign workers (former C-56).

The CCRA came into force in 1992. In 2007, the (then) Minister of Public Safety announced the appointment of an independent review panel to assess the operations of Correctional Service Canada (CSC). The panel issued its report and recommendations in October 2007. Sections 52 to 107 and 147 of Part 3 of Bill C-10 amend the CCRA and can be characterized as the legislative response to some of these recommendations.

These amendments include changes to the purpose and principles section to emphasize public safety as the paramount consideration under the CCRA. The amendments will strengthen the management of offenders through a number of changes, including enshrining the requirement for a correctional plan in the CCRA. The correctional plan will include behavioural expectations and objectives for program participation, and outline objectives for the offender’s court-ordered obligations, such as child support and victim restitution.

In addition, the amendments will create two new disciplinary offences, and provide that offenders convicted of serious disciplinary offences, who are segregated from other inmates, could be subject to restrictions on visits. Other amendments will provide police with the authority to arrest, without warrant, an offender who appears to be in breach of a condition of parole or statutory release, and will permit for the automatic suspension of parole or statutory release for offenders who receive another custodial sentence. Finally, the amendments will allow CSC to impose a condition of electronic monitoring on a term of conditional release.

The definition of a victim has been expanded in Bill C-10 to include guardians/caregivers of dependants of victims who are deceased, ill or otherwise incapacitated. Victims will be able to access more information about the offender who has harmed them, including the reasons for an offender transfer, a summary of the offender’s program participation, any convictions for serious disciplinary offences, and the reasons for a temporary absence. The amendments will enshrine a victim’s right to participate in a parole board hearing and ensure that if an offender withdraws his/her participation in a parole board hearing 14 days or less before the hearing, the Board may proceed with the review and decision.

Finally, the amendments will increase the number of full-time Parole Board members, and make important technical changes to other parts of the CCRA, to promote clarity or to respond to court decisions.

Implications

There is no new investment required to support these amendments as any costs can be accommodated within existing budgets. The amendments to the CCRA pertain to the federal correctional system and will have little impact, if any, on the provincial/ territorial systems. These amendments will highlight the protection of society as the paramount principle of the CCRA, make changes to the management of offenders in the federal correctional system and increase the amount of information available to victims.

Consultation

In 2007, the Government appointed a panel to review CSC’s operations. The review panel’s report contained 109 recommendations and the measures contained within Bill C-10 are the legislative response to some of these recommendations.

Witnesses who appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights spoke for and against various components of the Bill. Victims and victims’ advocates strongly supported the changes to the CCRA with regard to information provided to victims and the change to the parole review process. Police and police associations voiced strong support for the arrest without warrant provisions.

Academics, legal service providers and the Correctional Investigator strongly cautioned against the removal of the principle of least restrictive measures and expressed concern related to current system capacity and the limiting of the availability of visits for those in administrative segregation due to a serious disciplinary offence. Service providers, such as the John Howard Society and Elizabeth Fry Society, spoke to the current issues of overcrowding and current system capacity.

Witnesses who appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs made similar arguments. Police and police associations reaffirmed their support for the amendments. Victims and victims’ advocates reaffirmed their support for the amendments. In particular, the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime suggested additional amendments to strengthen these components.

Health care providers spoke to the issue of mental health in prisons, noting that the correctional systems were not designed to handle these types of cases. The Correctional Investigator voiced similar concerns, discussed capacity challenges in the federal system and the unique challenges of older offenders. The Canadian Bar Association called for the reinsertion of the principle of least restrictive measures, which was echoed by the Correctional Investigator, academics and service providers. The John Howard Society and the Elizabeth Fry Society also voiced concerns related to current system capacity, restrictions on visits, mental health and overcrowding.

When the Minister of Public Safety appeared before the committee, he outlined that the projected population increases have not yet materialized in the federal system. Further, the intent of Bill C-10 is not to create new offenders; it will address the issue of repeat offending.

Enshrining the concept of mental health in the principles section acknowledges the pervasive nature of the issue and emphasizes the need for additional efforts in this regard. Highlighting public safety as the paramount principle of the CCRA emphasizes that public safety is a key consideration in the management of offenders at all stages of the correctional process. Further, the concepts of accountability and rehabilitation are directly linked. One way of being accountable is to acknowledge the harm that the behaviour has caused, why the offender behaved in that manner and what steps the offender will take to ensure that the behaviour is not repeated. The correctional plan is at the heart of the offender’s time in federal custody and encompasses all of these elements. The amendments to make more information available to victims and increased opportunities for victims to participate in the correctional process have received strong support from victims and victims’ advocates.

Departmental contact

For more information, please contact

Ms. Mary Campbell
Director General
Corrections and Criminal Justice Directorate
Public Safety Canada
Telephone: 613-991-2592