Ontario Making Criminal Justice System Faster and Fairer
Reducing Time-to-Trial, Improving Bail System
Ontario is taking steps to improve the province's criminal justice system to make it faster and fairer.
The government's plan to reduce time-to-trial and improve the bail system will enhance public safety by speeding up the resolution of criminal cases and making more supports and supervision available to vulnerable, low-risk individuals who come in contact with the law.
The plan includes:
- Appointing 13 more judges to the Ontario Court of Justice, as well as adding 32 assistant Crown attorneys, 16 duty counsel, and 26 court staff to ensure faster justice.
- Provincewide expansion and enhancement of the province's existing Bail Verification and Supervision Program to help facilitate the successful release on bail of low-risk accused pending trial, by making the program available at a number of weekend court locations and extending eligibility to allow more vulnerable people to be served across the province.
- Launching an innovative new "bail beds" program to provide safe, supervised housing for low-risk individuals in five Ontario communities.
- Making duty counsel available at six correctional facilities across the province to allow for more effective bail hearings.
- Developing a new, culturally-responsive program to provide supports to Indigenous people going through the bail and remand process.
In addition, the Attorney General has appointed three prominent legal experts -- former chief justice Brian Lennox, former deputy attorney general Murray Segal, and deputy Crown attorney Lori Montague -- to provide advice on modernizing Crown policies on bail, for example, providing advice on the use of sureties and bail conditions.
Improving Ontario's criminal justice system is part of the government's plan to create jobs, keep communities safe and help people in their everyday lives.
- The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms requires that criminal trials take place within a reasonable amount of time. In cases where this time has been exceeded, the judge may choose to “stay” the charges and the case would not proceed to trial.
- Over the coming months, Ontario will work with the federal government to recommend changes to the Criminal Code that would increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the criminal court process in Ontario and across Canada.
- In its decision in R. v. Jordan, the Supreme Court of Canada set time limits for the completion of criminal cases, where there are no exceptional circumstances: 18 months for cases in the Ontario Court of Justice and 30 months for cases in the Superior Court of Justice.
- The decision to grant or deny bail is complex and based on the specifics of each individual case. When considering whether to recommend bail, the key factors considered by the Crown are public safety (especially for victims), attendance in court, the rights of the accused, and public confidence in the administration of justice.
- In 2015, in about 80 per cent of cases, the accused were either released by police or later released on bail.
“Our criminal justice system must work to protect the interests of all people — victims, the public and the accused. Ontario is working with all levels of government, the judiciary and community partners to ensure that cases get to court faster, and that people waiting for their trials are not held in custody if they don’t have to be there. By improving these fundamental parts of our criminal justice system we will make our communities safer.”
“Today’s announcement of funding for additional judges to the Ontario Court of Justice and the numerous bail initiatives is welcome and timely news. These additional resources and proactive strategies will advance our shared objective to improve the administration of criminal justice in Ontario.”
“The Ontario Crown Attorneys Association welcomes this investment in our criminal justice system. The announcement of 32 new assistant Crown attorneys and 13 judges is a meaningful and significant step by the government to address trial delays and improve the quality of justice in Ontario. These much needed resources will assist our hardworking prosecutors fulfill their professional duties and better serve the public, including all accused and victims of crime in Ontario.”
“Today’s announcement is a welcome sign that the provincial government is prepared to take meaningful steps to ensure timely and reasonable access to bail. We are very pleased to see a number of our Reasonable Bail? report recommendations reflected in the Bail Action Plan, and look forward to working closely with the Ministry of the Attorney General on this transformative effort.”