Department of Justice Canada

Department of Justice Canada

November 14, 2013 21:50 ET

Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Conclude Productive Meeting on Justice and Public Safety Issues Facing Canadians

WHITEHORSE, YUKON--(Marketwired - Nov. 14, 2013) - Federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) Ministers responsible for Justice and Public Safety today concluded a two-day meeting at which they discussed key justice and public safety issues currently facing Canadians.

The meeting was co-chaired by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Peter MacKay, P.C., Q.C., the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Steven Blaney, P.C., and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Yukon, Mike Nixon.

"I am very pleased with the opportunity to join with my provincial and territorial counterparts and discuss ways we can cooperatively strengthen our justice system," said Minister MacKay. "These discussions and our ongoing collaboration are a key part of achieving our shared goal of protecting Canadians and our communities across this country."

"These meetings are an important opportunity for Ministers to identify areas where, working together, we can make real progress in ensuring the sustainability of the justice and public safety systems in Canada," said Minister Blaney. "I am pleased with the progress we are making to advance issues of importance to all Canadians."

"Access to justice for individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and establishing shared best practices were discussed at the Federal/Provincial/Territorial meeting in Whitehorse," said Minister of Justice and Attorney General Mike Nixon. "Yukon will continue to play a national leadership role in responding to the needs of those affected with FASD in the criminal justice system."

Cyberbullying

Ministers agreed that the protection of Canada's children and youth is crucial, and that cyberbullying is a serious problem that requires a comprehensive response among all governments. Ministers acknowledged the collaboration between FPT governments in arriving at the July 2013 FPT Report on Cyberbullying and the Non-Consensual Distribution of Intimate Images, which included a series of concrete proposals for action to address cyberbullying. PT Ministers welcomed the federal Minister's indication that the federal Government will introduce legislation informed by this report giving police and prosecutors new, judicially authorized tools to more effectively address the most serious forms of cyberbullying. This legislation would also create a new criminal offence prohibiting the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.

Victims Rights

The federal Minister of Justice provided an update on progress in the development of a federal Victims Bill of Rights The provinces and the territories affirmed their continued commitment to effective measures to support victims and noted the need for further consultation on the details of the federal government's proposed legislation, given their responsibility for the administration of justice and the programs and services they deliver to victims. The federal Minister recognized that the upcoming legislation needs to respect provinces and territories' constitutional responsibility.

Family Justice

Ministers approved a report entitled Making the Links in Family Violence Cases: Collaboration among the Family, Child Protection and Criminal Justice Systems, which will be released once available in both English and French. The report identifies justice system challenges in family violence cases, particularly where there are multiple proceedings involving criminal, child protection or family litigation, and highlights promising practices to address these challenges. This report will be a useful resource for justice system professionals working within the criminal justice, family justice, and child protection systems.

FPT ministers support the continuation of FPT investment for the delivery of family justice programs and services for parents who separate or divorce, which is a shared area of jurisdiction. PT Ministers strongly supported sustained and enhanced federal funding to assist provinces and territories in maintaining and improving service delivery. All ministers agreed that family justice services yield positive results for families and for governments.

Economics of Policing

Ministers approved the proposed shared forward agenda to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of policing and public safety in Canada. The strategy represents a significant collective undertaking that is intended, over time, to help transform and strengthen policing.

First Nations Policing Program

FPT Ministers agreed to continue working toward implementing the multi-year agreements as part of the March 2013 funding announcement of $612.4M over five years. PT Ministers urged the Federal government to immediately increase funding beyond that in order to support and expand the Program. They also reiterated the need for enhanced, sustainable and predictable funding for the future. The Territorial Ministers reiterated their desire to have their jurisdictions included in the First Nations Policing Program. All Ministers agreed to further the discussion and exploration of policing options for First Nations and Inuit communities.

Support for Justice Programs

Ministers discussed issues relating to federal funding and support for important justice programs including Drug Treatment Courts and the Canadian Police Information Centre. PT Ministers asked for federal commitment to enhanced and sustained funding for Drug Treatment Courts. FPT Ministers are committed to continuing to work on these issues.

Legal Aid

PT Ministers requested that the federal Minister of Justice immediately increase funding for criminal legal aid in recognition of the population growth across the country. As well, PT Ministers again raised concerns about the fact that the current level of federal funding does not address the increased demand for legal aid and the costs of delivering legal aid. The PT Ministers also asked for the continuation of federal immigration and refugee legal aid funding beyond March 2014. The federal Minister of Justice acknowledged the concerns that were raised and will continue to examine ways that federal funding can support legal aid including looking at efficiencies, innovations and best practices. Officials were asked to make progress on finalizing the criminal legal aid allocation formula. PT Ministers also raised the request for federal funding for civil legal aid.

First Nations Representation on Juries

Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers discussed the release of the report First Nations Representation on Ontario Juries (Feb 2013) by the Honourable Frank Iacobucci. They learned about Ontario's work to improve First Nations representation on juries, and discussed the sharing of best practices that exist elsewhere in Canada.

Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation

Most Ministers endorsed the proposed next steps on offender rehabilitation, and agreed on the need to enhance our collective capacity to deal with growing pressures on the criminal justice system. Officials were directed to begin implementing a five-year crime prevention action plan with the objective of preventing children and youth from getting in trouble with the law as well as helping previous offenders stay out of trouble in the future. Recognizing the unique nature of each jurisdiction, provinces and territories will share best practices and consider which practices best align with their respective realities and capacities.

Violence Against Aboriginal Women and Girls

Ministers approved the release of a draft justice framework (www.scics.gc.ca) intended to help federal, provincial and territorial justice officials, Aboriginal organizations, and other partners work together across the country, as well as within their respective jurisdictions to find local solutions to address the serious issue of violence against Aboriginal women and girls. This draft justice framework reflects issues that have been identified in work by Aboriginal and other groups in numerous reports and consultations. Because engagement with Aboriginal groups, communities and other partners is crucial, jurisdictions will engage with Aboriginal and other groups over the next year to develop the final collaborative justice framework to be submitted to Ministers in fall 2014. Each government will be able to consider adapting the measures in the framework to address the unique needs and circumstances of Aboriginal women, families and communities.

Missing Women

Ministers received a report (www.scics.gc.ca)on the implementation of the 52 recommendations of the comprehensive Missing Women report released by Ministers in January 2012. They noted that many of the recommendations have been implemented.

Mental Health and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in the Justice System

Ministers asked that Officials bring forward practical solutions for improving responses to the mental health needs of individuals involved in the justice system, and to identify priorities, recognizing that close collaboration with the Health, Community and Social Services is needed. This should be developed in consultation with Heads of Corrections.

Ministers agreed that access to justice for those with FASD continues to be a priority item and directed officials to continue their work in this area.

Impaired driving

Ministers discussed the driving offences under the Criminal Code including impaired driving. They discussed modernizing the provisions and increasing penalties for some offences. Some of the issues include disclosure in impaired driving cases and the applicability of certain defences.

Preliminary inquiries

Ministers discussed preliminary inquiry reform. Most ministers recognized the need for reform in this area to make sure preliminary inquiries are limited to more serious offences. Officials were directed to report back to Ministers expeditiously on this important issue.

Other items

Ministers approved the release of a document to help police and prosecutors dealing with cases of human trafficking, entitled Trafficking in Persons: A Handbook for Police and Prosecutors. They also discussed the use of technology in the criminal justice system as a means of improving the efficiency of the justice system and increasing access to justice.

Contact Information

  • Paloma Aguilar
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of Justice
    613-992-4621

    Media Relations Office
    Department of Justice
    613-957-4207

    Jean-Christophe de Le Rue
    Director of Communications
    Office of the Minister of Public Safety
    and Emergency Preparedness
    613-991-2924

    Media Relations Office
    Public Safety Canada
    613-991-0657