Ontario Making Criminal Justice System Faster and Fairer in Eastern Ontario
Province Expanding Bail Programs and Hiring More Prosecutors and Court Staff
Ontario is moving forward with its plan to make the criminal justice system faster and fairer by implementing key programs to help reduce time-to-trial and improve the bail system in eastern Ontario.
The plan will enhance public safety by making it possible to resolve criminal cases faster and by making more supports and supervision available to vulnerable, low-risk individuals who come in contact with the law.
Ontario will make the following investments in eastern Ontario:
- Beginning in February 2017, the province will embed a Crown attorney within the Ottawa Police Service to provide advice and support to police on bail matters and work with police and community-based health and social services agencies to find effective alternatives to criminal charges for low-risk, vulnerable accused, including those with mental health issues and addictions.
- To facilitate faster bail decisions and safe resolutions, the Ottawa courthouse will be assigned one new dedicated bail vettor Crown attorney.
- To help expedite the bail process and ensure meaningful decisions are made, the Ottawa courthouse will also be assigned one new duty counsel bail coordinator.
- To provide safe, supportive and supervised housing for vulnerable accused individuals who require enhanced supervision in the community, up to 20 bail beds will be available in Ottawa by April 2017.
- The Bail Verification Supervision Programs will be expanded to Pembroke, Perth and L'Orignal to increase supervision and support to low-risk individuals before their trial.
- The Bail Verification Supervision Program in Ottawa will be expanded to include increased eligibility for services, support for Weekend and Statutory Holiday court, and expanded mental health programs.
- Beginning April 1, 2017, a dedicated duty counsel will be available at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre to more immediately and effectively address bail matters by providing legal advice, facilitating quicker applications for legal aid certificates and preparing an accused person for their bail hearings.
In addition, of the thirteen new judges announced in December, Chief Justice Lise Maisonneuve of the Ontario Court of Justice has indicated she will assign two judges to Ottawa.
Additionally, the province continues to work to improve and expand bail related services for Indigenous people by building relationships with Indigenous communities and organizations in Ottawa by incorporating culturally appropriate programing, training, case management and dedicated Indigenous staff positions into the existing bail program.
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.
- Ontario’s bail beds program will be piloted in five locations across the province. Ottawa’s program will be the second in Ontario after Thunder Bay, where a 20-bed facility opened in December 2016. In 2017, an additional 50 beds will be made available provincewide.
- In some cases where vulnerable individuals are charged with minor offences, community-based solutions can be an effective alternative to the criminal justice system. When individuals are connected with appropriate resources and supports, they are more likely to achieve stability in the community, and less likely to commit further criminal offences.
- 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.
- 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 — while keeping our communities safe. We are working on all fronts to ensure that cases get to court faster so that we a have fairer criminal justice system. I am pleased that Chief Justice Lise Maisonneuve of the Ontario Court of Justice has indicated she will assign two judges to Ottawa. These investments in community-based agencies in the Ottawa region will make it possible for vulnerable, low-risk Ontarians to be safely released in the community with the supervision and support they need. These new initiatives were informed by expert reports on bail and remand.”
“The Bail Verification and Supervision Program represents an innovative and evidence-based approach to supervising low risk people in the community while awaiting their criminal trials. The expansion of the Ottawa bail program, will allow the John Howard Society of Ottawa to more than double the number of clients who are able to access the program, as well as targeting specific support to individuals with mental health challenges. The Bail Supportive Housing Program will provide enhanced, 24 hour housing support and supervision for bail clients where the lack of stable housing is a barrier to accessing the program.”
“I welcome the enhancements to our court system. This initiative will help us make the justice system more effective and efficient.”
Chief Charles Bordeleau