Ontario Making Criminal Justice System Faster and Fairer in Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph
Province Appointing a New Judge, Expanding Bail Programs and Providing More Support for Jurors
Ontario is moving forward with its plan to make the criminal justice system faster and fairer by implementing programs to help reduce time-to-trial and improve the bail system in Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph.
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.
The province is:
- Funding 10 new bail beds at the House of Friendship in Kitchener to provide safe, supportive and supervised housing for vulnerable accused individuals who require enhanced supervision in the community
- Hiring one new dedicated bail vettor Crown attorney in Kitchener-Waterloo to facilitate faster bail decisions and early resolutions
- Assigning one new duty counsel bail coordinator to the Kitchener courthouse to help expedite the bail process and ensure meaningful decisions are made
- Hiring two new assistant Crown attorneys to help reduce time-to-trial in Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph and the surrounding region
- Enhancing the existing Bail Verification and Supervision Program provided by the Waterloo Region Bail Program in Kitchener-Waterloo by increasing eligibility for services and enhancing support for mental health clients
- Expanding the Bail Verification and Supervision Program to Guelph to provide supervision to low-risk individuals who have been released on bail.
In addition, of the 13 new judges announced in December 2016, Chief Justice Lise Maisonneuve of the Ontario Court of Justice has indicated that she will assign a judge to Kitchener.
To support jurors, Ontario is providing easier access to experienced and qualified counsellors. The Juror Support Program is available to help Ontarians who have served as jurors at the end of a trial or a coroner's inquest, if and when they need it. There are no out-of-pocket expenses for jurors, and the program is completely confidential.
Improving Ontario's criminal justice system is part of our 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 circumstances 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 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.
- Jurors who have completed jury service can call 1-844-JUROR-ON (1-844-587-6766) to find out how to access the Juror Support Program.
- Jurors can choose to receive counselling in person, over the phone, by email or videoconference in English or French. During counselling sessions, jurors will also receive disability accommodation, if requested.
“Ontario’s criminal justice system must work to protect the interests of all people — victims, the public and the accused — and keep our communities safe. We are working on all fronts to ensure that cases get to court faster and make our criminal justice system fairer. Our investments here in Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph will help make it possible for vulnerable, low-risk people to be safely released in the community with the supervision and support they need.”
“Reducing the delay before trial and making bail resources available to more people in need are important steps forward for our justice system, both here and across the province. I know these investments in resources and services will make a big difference here in Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph, helping to ensure justice is served more quickly and in a way that is more fair to all parties, while keeping our community safe.”
“I’m proud that our government is investing in a faster and fairer justice system for everyone, and providing supports to those who need them the most. I’m especially glad to see the Bail Verification and Supervision Program expanding to Guelph – this will have real, positive impacts on some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to partner with the province in piloting the Bail Beds program in Waterloo Region. This program, with its opportunity to provide enhanced services and support for vulnerable individuals who come into contact with the law, allows us to build on what we are already doing. By creating a stronger support system through this partnership, individuals will achieve stability and belonging in the community, and decrease recidivism for the long term success of each individual.”
“We are pleased to be part of an initiative that will decrease unnecessary incarceration for low-risk individuals involved with the criminal justice system. Expanding the Waterloo Region Bail Verification and Supervision program will make it possible for clients suffering with mental health and addiction concerns to be safely released into the community, creating a fairer criminal justice system.”