Progress made to strengthen Canada’s bail system during Justice and Public Safety Ministers meeting

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OTTAWA, ON, March 10, 2023 – Today, federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) Attorneys General and Ministers of Justice and Ministers of Public Safety held an important meeting on Canada’s bail system and ways to better address challenges facing our bail system. These discussions build on continued FPT cooperation and collaboration on Canada’s bail laws and their implementation.

Ministers acknowledged tragic and recent events that have taken place across Canada, and that have highlighted concerns about Canada’s bail system. Ministers discussed how the existing bail system responds to repeat violent offenders. This included discussion about offences that involve the illegal use or possession of firearms and other dangerous weapons, and challenges posed by the application of bail provisions in the case of repeat violent offenders, regardless of whether a weapon was used. 

Repeat violent offending raises concerns about public safety and public confidence in the justice system. Ministers agreed that the bail system functions appropriately in many but not all cases. However, both legislative and non-legislative action is needed to ensure that the objectives of the bail system are being met. Today, the federal government agreed to take action as early as this legislative session to strengthen public safety through amendments to the Criminal Code that would target repeat violent offenders and serious offences committed with firearms and other dangerous weapons. Non-legislative efforts by federal, provincial and territorial governments could include improved data, policies, practices, training, and programs in the areas of bail supports and enforcement. This could include funding and programs available for broader public safety objectives, such as combatting criminal use of firearms, gang violence and preventing crime, including gender-based violence and intimate partner violence.

Within their own jurisdictions, ministers remained mindful of the potential impacts of these measures on groups who are over-represented in the justice system, such as Indigenous Peoples, Black persons and other vulnerable groups, and work to mitigate any negative consequences.

Ministers agreed to continue collaborating to find additional solutions to this and other justice and public safety priorities.

PEI is operating in a caretaker period due to a provincial election. Officials from PEI participated as observers.

SOURCE Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat

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