PRESS RELEASE - FEDERAL/PROVINCIAL/TERRITORIAL MINISTERS CONCLUDE PRODUCTIVE MEETING ON JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUES FACING CANADIANS
BANFF, October 17, 2014 — Federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) Ministers responsible for Justice and Public Safety today concluded a two-day meeting to discuss and exchange ideas on key justice and public safety issues of importance to 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 Solicitor General of Alberta, Jonathan Denis, Q.C.
“These meetings with my provincial and territorial colleagues allowed for a constructive and frank dialogue on justice issues facing all Canadians. Many of the items discussed are of utmost importance and it is crucial for us to work together, find solutions collectively that improve our justice system. We must collaborate where we can, and within our areas of jurisdiction. One outcome is clear: protecting Canadians and our communities is imperative for everyone. The Federal Government will continue to encourage all our provincial and territorial colleagues to pursue this discussion and collaboration, to meet and fulfil our common objectives.”
Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
“This annual meeting is an invaluable opportunity for federal, provincial and territorial Ministers to be briefed on progress that has been achieved on priority issues raised at past meetings, and to discuss how we will proceed with these and new issues that have arisen over the last year. Perspectives, concerns and suggestions raised by colleagues are extremely helpful in helping us achieve our common goal of keeping Canadians safe.”
Steven Blaney, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
“Providing appropriate federal funding for legal aid and countering violent extremism were key elements of the discussions with our federal, provincial, and territorial partners. Alongside our counterparts, Alberta will continue to play a leadership role in the national dialogue on working toward innovative solutions to challenges we face across Canada in our justice and public safety systems.”
Jonathan Denis, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General
Violence Against Aboriginal Women and Girls
Ministers discussed the status of the Draft Justice Framework to Address Violence Against Aboriginal Women and Girls which was released in November 2013. Ministers agreed on the importance of continued collaboration across and within jurisdictions, as well as with Aboriginal communities and other partners to further refine the framework and address this issue. Recognizing the importance of continued action, Ministers agreed to release a progress report which includes an overview of the status of the draft framework and examples of activities already underway to prevent and to respond to violence against Aboriginal women and girls. The progress report also identifies a series of further commitments to targeted action by Ministers during 2014-2015. Ministers agreed to meet before the next annual meeting to discuss progress on this issue.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE)
Ministers emphasized that the threat of homegrown terrorism is a significant concern for all levels of government. Ministers also recognized the importance of involving communities in addressing the issue. They agreed to fully support discussions on CVE initiatives and to continue exploring opportunities to collaborate with other ministries within their jurisdictions.
Economics of Policing
Ministers were updated on progress being made on the Economics of Policing Shared Forward Agenda and approved the proposed next steps which provinces and territories will implement as they deem appropriate. Ministers reaffirmed their support for the ongoing collaborative efforts to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of policing and public safety in Canada. Ministers also supported holding another Summit on the Economics of Policing.
First Nations Policing Program
Ministers emphasized the importance of maintaining professional, dedicated and culturally-responsive policing services in First Nation and Northern communities. Federal and provincial/territorial governments agreed to work collaboratively to finalize outstanding agreements. PT Ministers asked the federal government to consider expanding funding for the First Nations Policing Program. Territorial Ministers reiterated their desire to have their jurisdictions included in the First Nations Policing Programs. Ministers agreed on the need for innovation in the delivery of police services to address the challenges of remote communities and that there will be further collaboration to address concerns about the future of the Band Constable Program.
Support for Justice and Public Safety Programs
Ministers discussed issues related to important programs, including enhancing the capacity of the Canadian Police Information Centre and funding for Drug Treatment Courts, which are key to better serving and protecting Canadians and our communities. FPT Ministers are committed to continuing to work on these issues.
FPT ministers discussed the important role of legal aid in delivering an accessible and effective criminal justice system for all Canadians. Ministers acknowledged the need for continued innovation to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of legal aid. In the context of the current funding agreements, provincial ministers reiterated their request for increased federal funding in recognition of changing demographics across the country. Ministers reiterated the emphasis for continued collaboration between the Federal government and the provinces and territories to strengthen legal aid and the justice system for Canadians.
Victims Bill of Rights
Ministers expressed strong support for the objectives of the proposed Victims Bill of Rights. PT Ministers noted that many initiatives had been taken in their own jurisdiction, given their constitutional responsibility for the administration of justice. They identified and discussed implementation challenges, particularly in regards to existing PT programs and services for victims. Ministers also agreed that legal and implementation considerations should be addressed by FPT senior officials in a timely fashion. The federal Ministers committed that funding would be made available to provinces and territories to assist in the implementation of the Bill.
Prostitution Law Reform
FPT Ministers discussed the proposed Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act and the federal government’s commitment to provide funding, taking into account provincial and territorial priorities, for programs that prevent persons from becoming involved in prostitution and assist exploited persons who wish to leave prostitution.
Family Justice Relocation Issues
Ministers discussed the family law issue of relocation of a child to a new jurisdiction in custody cases. Ministers acknowledged the importance of providing separated parents with assistance to resolve their child custody arrangements. Ministers agreed to refer the issue to an FPT working group for study and consultation, and to develop recommended options on an expedited basis.
Tougher Penalties for Child Sex Offenders
The federal Ministers gave a status update on the proposed federal Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act and High Risk Child Sex Offender Database. Ministers agreed on the need for further consultations and collaboration with provinces and territories on the creation of the Database. The federal Public Safety Minister committed to ensuring the federal database would be compatible with similar provincial initiatives.
Access to Justice Framework
Ministers engaged in a discussion around access to justice priorities and asked officials to continue working on the development of an access to justice framework on family, civil and administrative law. Building on the important work of the national Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters, and others, Ministers agreed to support efforts to facilitate greater FPT collaboration and information-sharing on access to justice priorities.
Access to Subscriber Information
The federal Justice Minister described implications of the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Spencer (police access to information on subscribers to Internet Service Providers), for the criminal justice system. Given the serious implications of this decision on public safety, Ministers agreed to ask senior officials to consider options that would balance the needs of law enforcement and the privacy interests of Canadians.
Prosecution of Workplace Fatalities
Ministers agreed to continue working collaboratively to share best practices to improve the investigation and enforcement of existing federal and provincial laws to ensure workplace safety for Canadians. Ministers agreed to engage relevant stakeholders as appropriate.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and Sentencing
Ministers reviewed a report from the Sentencing Working Group on FASD. The recommendations of the working group were appreciated and Ministers directed officials to conduct further research on key issues, taking into consideration the input of the Canadian Bar Association and Private Members Bill C-583, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder).
Ministers also discussed other justice and public safety related issues such as a Supreme Court of Canada decision regarding Aboriginal title, organized crime, impaired driving and offender reintegration.
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