Department of Justice Canada

Department of Justice Canada

August 09, 2012 11:32 ET

Government Announces Coming Into Force of the Protecting Children From Sexual Predators Component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act

MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 9, 2012) - The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, accompanied by the Honourable Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, today announced the coming into force of the protecting children from sexual predators component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10).

"The sexual exploitation of children is a heinous crime that causes irreparable harm to the youngest and the most vulnerable members of our society," said Minister Nicholson. "Our Government is sending a clear message to dangerous pedophiles who prey on our children: from now on, you will serve jail time."

"Our Government remains committed to keeping our streets and communities safe, protecting Canadians and holding offenders accountable," said Senator Boisvenu. "We have taken tough action against child sexual exploitation in any form by toughening all penalties related to these crimes."

The component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act coming into force today will:

  1. Establish mandatory prison sentences for seven existing Criminal Code offences such as luring a child, sexual assault, and aggravated assault. As a result, conditional sentences (i.e. house arrest) will no longer be available for any of these offences.
  1. Increase mandatory prison sentences for nine sexual offences involving child victims, such as possessing, making, accessing or distributing child pornography and sexual exploitation.
  1. Increase maximum penalties for four child sexual offences, including increasing the maximum penalty from five to 10 years for the indictable offence of a parent or guardian procuring their child for illegal sexual activity where the child is less than 16 years of age.
  1. Create two new offences with mandatory prison sentences that seek to prevent the sexual exploitation of children by making it illegal for anyone to:
  • provide sexually explicit material to a child for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a sexual offence against a child (this process is often referred to as "grooming"); or
  • use telecommunications, including the Internet, to communicate with another person to agree or make arrangements to commit a sexual offence against a child.
  1. Require judges to consider prohibiting suspected or convicted sexual predators from having any unsupervised contact with a child under the age of 16 or any unsupervised use of the Internet or other digital network.

Statistics Canada recently announced that the rate of police-reported sexual offences against children rose by 3 percent between 2010 and 2011. In addition, there was a 40-percent increase in the rate of police-reported child pornography incidents, the largest increase of any Criminal Code offence in 2011.

The Government introduced the Safe Streets and Communities Act on September 20, 2011, fulfilling its commitment to move quickly to re-introduce comprehensive law-and-order legislation to combat crime and terrorism. The Safe Streets and Communities Act received Royal Assent on March 13, 2012.

An online version of the legislation can be found at www.parl.gc.ca.

Internet: www.justice.gc.ca

Backgrounder

Safe Streets and Communities Act: Better Protection for Children and Youth from Sexual Predators

As part of its commitment to help ensure the safety and security of Canadians, the Government has implemented reforms to the Criminal Code designed to better protect children from sexual predators. Recognizing that children are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation, the Government committed to take action to better protect children from sexual offenders in the June 2011 Speech from the Throne.

The Safe Streets and Communities Act supports this commitment in two ways:

  • by ensuring that the penalties imposed for sexual offences against children are consistent and better reflect the heinous nature of these acts; and
  • by creating two new offences that take aim at conduct that could facilitate the sexual abuse of a child.

Children are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation. They represented 59 percent of all police-reported sexual assault victims in 2008. [Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR2) Survey].

In 2008, 80 percent of child sexual offences were charged under the general sexual assault offence, which, prior to the enactment of Bill C-10, did not impose a mandatory minimum penalty. [Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR2) Survey].

The rate of police-reported sexual offences against children rose by 3 percent between 2010 and 2011. In addition, there was a 40-percent increase in the rate of police-reported child pornography incidents, the largest increase of any Criminal Code offence in 2011. It should be noted that fluctuations in the rate of child pornography are most likely reflective of police-based programs and initiatives targeting this particular offence. [Source: Statistics Canada, Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2011].

This legislation amends the Criminal Code to:

1. Establish New Mandatory Minimum Penalties (see TABLE A)

New mandatory minimum penalties are provided for seven existing offences related to child sexual exploitation and abuse:

  • sexual assault where the victim is under 16 years of age (section 271);
  • sexual assault with a weapon etc., where the victim is under 16 years of age (section 272);
  • aggravated sexual assault where the victim is under 16 years of age (section 273);
  • incest where the victim is under 16 years of age (section 155);
  • luring a child through the use of a computer (section 172.1);
  • bestiality in the presence of, or involving, a child under 16 years of age (subsection 160(3)); and
  • exposure to a victim under 16 years of age (subsection 173(2)).

The addition of mandatory minimum penalties to these offences will also have the effect of eliminating the use of conditional sentences, or house arrest, for any of these crimes.

2. Increase Existing Mandatory Minimum Penalties (see TABLE B)

The mandatory minimum penalty for nine existing offences is increased to better reflect the serious nature of these offences, as well as to bring greater consistency in sentencing in these cases, specifically:

  • the existing mandatory minimum penalties for three child-specific offences − sexual interference (section 151), invitation to sexual touching (section 152) and sexual exploitation (section 153), which carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment when proceeded on indictment, are raised from 45 days to one year;
  • the existing mandatory minimum penalties for making and distributing child pornography (subsections 163.1(2) and (3)), which previously carried a maximum penalty of 18 months when proceeded on summary conviction (and that maximum is raised, see point 3 below), are raised from 90 days to six months;
  • the existing mandatory minimum penalties for possessing and accessing child pornography (subsections 163.1(4) and (4.1)), which carry a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment when proceeded on indictment, are raised from 45 days to six months;
  • the existing mandatory minimum penalties for the indictable offence of a parent or guardian procuring their child for illegal sexual activity (section 170), which carries a maximum penalty of five years where the victim is under the age of 16 years and a maximum penalty of two years where the victim is aged 16 or 17 years (both of which are also raised, see point 3 below), is increased from six months to one year and from 45 days to six months, respectively; and
  • the existing mandatory minimum penalties for the indictable offence of a householder permitting illegal sexual activity with a victim aged 16 or 17 years (paragraph 171(b)), which carries a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment, is doubled from 45 to 90 days.

3. Increase Existing Maximum Penalties (see TABLE B)

The maximum penalties for four existing child sexual exploitation offences are increased to better reflect the particularly heinous nature of these offences:

  • the maximum penalty on summary conviction for bestiality in the presence of, or involving, a child increases from six months to two years less a day (subsection 160(3));
  • the maximum penalty on summary conviction for making child pornography increases from 18 months to two years less a day (subsection 163.1(2));
  • the maximum penalty on summary conviction for distributing child pornography increases from 18 months to two years less a day (subsection 163.1(3)); and
  • the maximum penalty for a parent or guardian procuring their children for illegal sexual activity (indictable offence) doubles from five to 10 years where the victim is under 16 years of age and is increased from two to five years where the victim is aged 16 or 17 years (paragraphs 170(a) and (b)).

4. Create Two New Offences (see TABLE A)

These new offences target conduct that could facilitate or enable the commission of a sexual offence against a child. These offences:

  • Prohibit anyone from providing sexually explicit material to a child for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a sexual offence against that child. This hybrid offence carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 30 days imprisonment and a maximum penalty of six months when proceeded on summary conviction, and a mandatory minimum penalty of 90 days imprisonment and a maximum penalty of two years when proceeded on indictment.
  • Prohibit anyone from using any means of telecommunications, including the Internet, to agree or make arrangements with another person for the purpose of committing a sexual offence against a child. This hybrid offence carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 90 days and a maximum penalty of 18 months on summary conviction, and a mandatory minimum penalty of one year and a maximum penalty of 10 years when proceeded on indictment.

These two new offences are also added to Schedule 1 of the Criminal Records Act. This will ensure that persons convicted of these new offences are ineligible to apply for a record suspension (previously known as a pardon) for the same period of time that applies to other child sexual offences.

5. Create New Restrictions for Offenders

These reforms require judges to consider prohibiting suspected or convicted child sex offenders from having any unsupervised contact with a young person under the age of 16 years or from having any unsupervised use of the Internet or other digital network.

Table A

NEW OFFENCES AND NEW MANDATORY MINIMUM PENALTIES FOR SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN OFFENCES

Maximum Penalty New mandatory minimum penalties
Offence Criminal
Code
Section
On
Summary
Conviction
On
Indictment
On
Summary
Conviction
On
Indictment
1. Incest against a person under 16 years of age (indictable offence) 155 n/a 14 years n/a 5 years
2. New: Providing sexually explicit material to a child (hybrid offence)
171.1

6 months

2 years

30 days

90 days
3. Internet luring (hybrid offence) 172.1 18 months 10 years 90 days 1 year
4. New: Agreeing/making arrangements with another person, via telecommunication, to commit a sexual offence against a child (hybrid offence)


172.2

18 months

10 years

90 days

1 year
5. Exposure 173(2) 6 months 2 years 30 days 90 days
6. Sexual assault, against a young person under 16 years of age (hybrid offence)
271

18 months

10 years

90 days

1 year
7. Sexual assault with a weapon1 against a young person under 16 years of age (indictable offence)

272


n/a


14 years


n/a


5 years
8. Aggravated sexual assault1 against a young person under 16 years of age (indictable offence)

273


n/a


life imprisonment


n/a


5 years
1 There is a mandatory minimum penalty for this offence if a firearm is used (4 years) or if a restricted or prohibited firearm is used in connection with organized crime (5 years for first offence; 7 years for second or subsequent offence).

Table B

HIGHER MANDATORY MINIMUM AND MAXIMUM PENALTIES FOR EXISTING SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN OFFENCES

Offence Criminal
Code
Section
On summary conviction On indictment
Previous
Penalty
New
Increased
Mandatory
Minimum
and
Maximum
Penalties
Previous
Penalty
New
Increased
Mandatory
Minimum
and
Maximum
Penalties
1. Sexual interference (hybrid offence)
151
MMP 14 days and max. 18 months
MMP 90 days
MMP 45 days and max. 10 years
MMP 1 year
2. Invitation to sexual touching (hybrid offence)
152
MMP 14 days and max. 18 months
MMP 90 days
MMP 45 days and max. 10 years
MMP 1 year
3. Sexual exploitation (hybrid offence)
153
MMP 14 days and max. 18 months
MMP 90 days
MMP 45 days and max. 10 years
MMP 1 year
4. Bestiality in the presence of or involving a child
160(3)
No MMP and max. 6 months MMP 6 months and max. 2 years less a day No MMP and max. 10 years
MMP 1 year
5. Making child pornography
163.1(2)
MMP 90 days and max. 18 months MMP 6 months
and max. 2 years less a day
MMP 1 year and max. 10 years
(No change)
6. Distributing child pornography
163.1(3)
MMP 90 days and max. 18 months MMP 6 months
and max. 2 years less a day
MMP 1 year and max. 10 years
(No change)
7. Possession of child pornography (hybrid offence)
163.1(4)
MMP 14 days and max. 18 months
MMP 90 days
MMP 45 days and max. 5 years
MMP 6 months
8. Accessing child pornography (hybrid offence)
163.1(4.1)
MMP 14 days and max. 18 months
MMP 90 days
MMP 45 days and max. 5 years
MMP 6 months
9. Parent/guardian procuring sexual activity where victim is under 16 (indictable offence)
170(a)

n/a
MMP 6 months and max. 5 years MMP 1 year
and max. 10 years
10. Parent/guardian procuring sexual activity where victim is 16-17 (indictable offence)
170(b)

n/a
MMP 45 days and max. 2 years MMP 6 months
and max. 5 years
11. Householder permitting sexual activity where victim is 16-17 (indictable offence)
171(b)

n/a
MMP 45 days and max. 2 years
MMP 90 days

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Contact Information

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