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PRESS RELEASE - FEDERAL / PROVINCIAL / TERRITORIAL MINISTERS COMMITTED TO ADDRESSING KEY JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUES FACING CANADIANS

FEDERAL / PROVINCIAL / TERRITORIAL MINISTERS COMMITTED TO ADDRESSING KEY JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUES FACING CANADIANS

Vancouver, BC, October 15, 2010 – Federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) ministers responsible for justice and public safety concluded their meeting today, after in-depth discussions on key justice and public safety issues currently facing Canadians. 

The meeting was co-chaired by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., the Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews, P.C., Q.C., and the Attorney General and Solicitor General of British Columbia, Michael de Jong, Q.C.

Ministers were provided with an overview of recent federal legislative initiatives noting in particular Bills S-4 (Identity Theft), C-25 (Truth in Sentencing) and C-14 (Organized Crime), as well as Bill C-5 (International Transfer of Offenders), C-23B (Pardon Reform) and S-2 (Sex Offender Registry).

Missing and Murdered Women
Ministers released a report on missing and murdered women (available at http://www.scics.gc.ca). Ministers agreed on the need to strengthen the criminal justice system’s response to these tragic cases. They agreed that this is a national issue where additional work on the part of governments, communities and individuals is recommended.

Conducted Energy Weapons
Ministers approved national guidelines to support the development of policies for the use of Conducted Energy Weapons (CEWs), and approved a national research agenda to further advance evidence-based knowledge regarding the testing and use of CEWs.

First Nations Policing Program
Public Safety Canada presented the findings of the ongoing comprehensive review of the First Nations Policing Program. Provincial and territorial Ministers expressed their support for the review and the need for a strong federal role in First Nations policing. Provinces and Territories also expressed their desire for greater program flexibility, greater predictability of federal funding and longer term agreements. Territories underscored their interest in partnering with the federal government to improve the quality of policing services to First Nations and Inuit citizens in the North.

Police Officers Recruitment Fund
Provincial and Territorial Ministers stated their position that full and permanent funding is required for the Police Officers Recruitment Fund, which was created in 2008 to assist provinces and territories to recruit additional police officers. The federal Minister of Public Safety indicated that the federal government has delivered on its commitment to provide a one-time financial allocation to assist the provinces and territories.

Criminal Legal Aid
Provincial and territorial Ministers asked the federal government to fund a greater proportion of the costs of criminal legal aid. Ministers agreed to extend existing agreements to March 31, 2012, and endorsed a joint statement on criminal legal aid. It was recognized that all jurisdictions are currently facing fiscal challenges.

Civil Legal Aid
Provincial and territorial Ministers asked the federal Minister to consider the strategic importance of civil legal aid. The federal Minister of Justice noted that there is funding for civil legal aid under the Canada Social Transfer and agreed to take their concerns back to his federal colleagues.

Mental Health and Justice
Managing the needs of those with mental health issues who come in contact with the justice system is a complex area. Ministers encouraged collaboration between the criminal justice and mental health systems. Ministers agreed to hold a symposium on mental health related justice issues in May 2011, in Calgary, Alberta. The symposium will be co-hosted by Justice Canada, Public Safety Canada and the Province of Alberta.

Public Safety as Paramount Consideration in Review Board Dispositions
Ministers agreed to explore the issue of the protection of the public as the paramount consideration in Criminal Code Review Board decisions regarding persons found not criminally responsible due to mental disorder.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and Access to Justice
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) affects many offenders and victims who deal with the justice system. There was strong support to continue to make FASD and the justice system a priority item, and to engage the Canadian Bar Association in dialogue about FASD as an access to justice issue.

Random Breath Testing
Ministers denounced impaired driving and the harms associated with it and exchanged views on the use of Random Breath Testing, an investigatory approach to detecting impaired driving, as a tool to help address the serious issue of impaired driving in Canada. 

Ministers emphasized the need to work collaboratively on criminal law reform. Ministers discussed issues concerning Bill C-4 (amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act) and C-16 (Ending House Arrest for Property and Other Serious Crimes).

Ministers agreed on the need to work together and support coordinated actions on human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Ministers endorsed progress made on criminal procedure, electronic disclosure, routine police evidence (allowing police to present evidence by written document rather than in person on routine matters) and sentencing for large-scale economic fraud.

Pamela Stephens
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice

613-992-4621

Media Relations Office
Department of Justice
613-957-4207

Media Relations Office
Public Safety Canada
613-991-0657