Ontario Making Criminal Justice System Faster and Fairer in Northeastern Ontario
Province Expanding Bail Programs and Hiring More Prosecutors
Ontario is rolling out 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 northeastern 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.
In northeastern Ontario, the province is:
- Hiring two new assistant Crown attorneys in Sudbury to help reduce time-to-trial. These new resources may be assigned to assist other court locations as needed to address delays.
- Working with Indigenous communities, Indigenous friendship centres, Grand Council Treaty #3, and Nishnawbe-Aski Legal Services Corporation to develop Indigenous Bail Verification and Supervision Programs in Cochrane, Timmins and Manitoulin Island and to develop bail liaison positions in First Nation communities. This work will allow people to receive culturally relevant services in their own communities, delivered by Indigenous service providers.
- Working with the Elizabeth Fry Society to establish a brand new Bail Verification and Supervision Program in North Bay to increase supervision and support available to low-risk individuals before their trial.
- Expanding the existing Bail Verification and Supervision Program delivered by John Howard Society in Sault Ste. Marie to Elliot Lake, and enhancing the existing services by increasing eligibility and providing support for mental health services.
- Enhancing the existing Bail Verification and Supervision Program delivered by the Elizabeth Fry Society in Sudbury by increasing eligibility for services, support for mental health services and weekend and statutory holidays court.
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 one judge to Gore Bay.
Improving Ontario's criminal justice system is part of our plan to keep communities safe and help people in their everyday lives.
- Ontario is investing $25 million annually to help reduce time-to-trial and improve the bail system across the province.
- 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 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.
“Ontario’s 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 have a fairer criminal justice system. Our investments in Sudbury and the surrounding region will help make it possible for vulnerable, low-risk people to be safely released in the community with the supervision and support they need.”
“Adding these valuable resources will help make a more efficient criminal justice system, allowing Ontario courts to be faster and fairer, while still keeping our communities safe. Working closely with Indigenous communities helps to provide culturally appropriate bail services to address the needs and desires of the community.”
“The expansion of Bail Verification and Supervision Programs across the province is an extremely positive and necessary step towards reducing the number of individuals incarcerated in Ontario who have not been convicted of an offence and are not a risk to their community. The expansion of the Sudbury program has created more opportunity for releases at weekend and statutory holidays court as well as much needed mental health and addiction supports. The creation of the new program has recognized the need for the same services in North Bay. The Elizabeth Fry Society is committed to these expansions, working with many community organizations to better assist those released under our supervision.”