Standing up for Victims and Law-Abiding Citizens
The Smarter and Stronger Justice Act, if passed, would help the government stand up for victims and law-abiding citizens by:
Ensuring criminals don't profit from crimes (Civil Remedies Act)
In Ontario, the government can currently pursue the forfeiture of profits and property that is used for or results from criminal activity. For example, a building or car that was used to sell illegal drugs could be forfeited to the government under the Civil Remedies Act. The money earned from selling that property would be used to compensate victims and support programs that help prevent illegal activity.
The proposed change would simplify the processes around property forfeiture by allowing personal property to be forfeited without a court order in uncontested cases. A new annual report requirement for all forfeiture proceedings in Ontario would also add additional transparency.
Individuals with a genuine, non-criminal interest in the property would be given a 120-day notice period to contest an administrative forfeiture. Ontario's notice requirements would be among the most robust in the country, including the requirement for personal service of forfeiture in administrative cases in addition to the longest notice period in Canada.
Holding lawyers and paralegals to the highest of ethical standards (Law Society Act)
The Law Society of Ontario's role is to ensure the people of Ontario are served by lawyers and paralegals who meet the highest standards of learning, competence and professional conduct. The proposed changes would provide the Law Society of Ontario with the tools it needs to sufficiently censure lawyers and paralegals who fail to meet those standards, especially in cases of professional misconduct, so Ontarians can feel confident when hiring a legal professional.
Proposed changes include increasing the maximum fine for professional misconduct and allowing the Law Society of Ontario to regulate law firms in addition to lawyers and paralegals.
Giving families closure in the tragic death of a loved one (Vital Statistics Act)
A physician, nurse practitioner or coroner can only complete a Medical Certificate of Death when there are remains of a deceased person. In particularly tragic incidents of death when there are no remains, the process to register a death without a Medical Certificate of Death is lengthy and more complicated for the family of the deceased. To save families from publicly reliving their grief, the changes proposed to Regulation 1094 under the Vital Statistics Act would reduce the burden on families and facilitate faster resolutions in these exceptional and unfortunate circumstances.
No longer using taxpayer dollars to pay legal fees for judicial officials removed from office (Courts of Justice Act and the Justices of the Peace Act)
Judicial bodies can recommend that the government use taxpayer dollars to cover legal fees for defending a judicial misconduct complaint, even if the misconduct was severe enough to result in removal from office.
The proposed change would amend both acts so judicial officials who are removed from office as a result of their misconduct would have to pay their own legal fees out of pocket.
Protecting juror privacy and security (Juries Act)
The proposed change would remove the requirement to include juror addresses on jury panel lists (a jury panel is a list of people who may be chosen to be a juror). If needed for the specific trial, parties will be able to bring a motion for access to juror addresses.
Making it easier for cyberbullying victims to sue their offender (Victims' Bill of Rights)
Cyberbullying occurs when someone uses information and digital technology to deliberately and repeatedly harm a person or group. Cyberbullies can communicate broadly and quickly, making targets feel like they have no escape and often causing enduring mental and emotional harm.
The proposed amendment to Regulation 456/96 under the Victims' Bill of Rights would make it easier for victims to obtain damages in civil proceedings against offenders convicted of the offence of non-consensual distribution of an intimate image.