Vol. 149, No. 11 — June 3, 2015
SOR/2015-110 May 15, 2015
WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM ACT
Regulations Amending the Schedule to the Witness Protection Program Act
P.C. 2015-590 May 14, 2015
Whereas the Saskatchewan Minister Responsible for Corrections and Policing requested that the Saskatchewan Witness Protection Program be designated by adding it to the schedule to the Witness Protection Program Act (see footnote a);
Therefore, His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, pursuant to subsection 10.1(1) (see footnote b) of the Witness Protection Program Act (see footnote c), makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Schedule to the Witness Protection Program Act.
REGULATIONS AMENDING THE SCHEDULE TO THE WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM ACT
1. The schedule to the Witness Protection Program Act (see footnote 1) is amended by adding the following after the heading “DESIGNATED PROGRAMS”:
Saskatchewan Witness Protection Program
2. These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)
Witnesses admitted into Saskatchewan’s Witness Protection Program must also be assessed against federal statutory admission criteria or admitted into the federal program to obtain secure federal identity documents. Provinces with their own (provincial) witness programs have argued that this step creates a burden on their program and witnesses, as it impedes timely protection of their witnesses.
The Safer Witnesses Act introduces legislative changes to the Witness Protection Program Act (WPPA), to enhance the federal Witness Protection Program (WPP) to make it more effective and secure, improve its interaction with provincial, territorial and municipal witness protection programs, and better protect those who both require and those who provide protection. The Act was introduced into the Parliament on December 11, 2012. After passing unanimously through the House and the Senate without amendment, it received royal assent on June 26, 2013. The Safer Witnesses Act came into force on November 1, 2014.
Legislative changes mainly affect jurisdictions with witness protection programs. These jurisdictions have the option of seeking designation, which will facilitate access to new federal identity documents, such as passports and citizenship records, required for secure identity changes for their witnesses without being admitted to the WPP. Currently, witnesses from provincial, territorial or municipal witness protection programs must be admitted into the federal WPP before the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) may assist them in obtaining secure federal identity documents. This means witnesses must meet federal admission criteria, as described in section 7 of the WPPA. Several factors are considered prior to determining whether a witness should be permitted into the Program, including, but not limited to, the nature of the inquiry and the importance of the witness; the value of the information/ evidence to be given by the witness; and the likelihood the witness can adjust to the Program. Meeting section 7 criteria creates a burden on these programs and witnesses. Once the identity documents are obtained, protection under the WPP for these witnesses is terminated.
Five provinces, including Saskatchewan, have their own witness protection programs. While Saskatchewan’s Program can provide a range of services similar to that of the WPP, it cannot independently provide for a secure identity change for their witnesses, as these documents are federally issued.
The designation process is a simple administrative step, whereby Saskatchewan’s Minister Responsible for Corrections and Policing would make a one-time request to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness providing assurances that its Program has a statutory or policy framework in place and a formal admission and termination process.
The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness may then recommend that Saskatchewan’s Witness Protection Program be designated and that the Governor in Council may, in turn, designate the Program by adding its name to a schedule attached to the Witness Protection Program Act, by regulation.
Once designated, information about Saskatchewan’s Program, its witnesses and its administrators will be protected by federal statute when they request secure federal identity documents. In addition, federal partners involved in secure identity changes would be assured that their information would have some measures of protection within Saskatchewan’s provincial program.
The objective of designating Saskatchewan’s Witness Protection Program under the WPPA is to facilitate timely access to federal documents (e.g. passports, social insurance numbers, status cards) that are required for a secure identity change to better protect witnesses admitted into Saskatchewan’s Witness Protection Program.
An additional objective of the designation framework is to ensure information about Saskatchewan’s Program, its witnesses and its administrators is protected by the non-disclosure provisions of the WPPA.
The Regulations add Saskatchewan’s Witness Protection Program as a designated program to the schedule of the federal Witness Protection Program Act, as per the Safer Witnesses Act.
The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to this proposal, as there is no change in administrative costs to business.
Small business lens
The small business lens does not apply to this proposal, as there are no costs to small business.
In May 2014, Saskatchewan requested, by completing and submitting the request for designation form, that its Program be designated so that it can be added to the schedule attached to the Witness Protection Program Act.
Once designated, witnesses admitted into Saskatchewan’s Witness Protection Program will be provided easier access to federal documents (e.g. passports, social insurance numbers, status cards) required for secure identity changes. Designation eliminates the current administrative step that requires each provincial witness to first meet the federal criteria and be admitted into the federal program before secure federal identity documents are obtained for the witness.
Once designated, information about Saskatchewan’s Program, its witnesses and its administrators will also be protected by federal statute.
The Regulations are not expected to create a negative impact on other areas or sectors.
Serious and Organized Crime Policy Division
Public Safety Canada