Federal-Provincial-Territorial Meeting of Ministers responsible for Justice


HUMBER VALLEY , Newfoundland and Labrador, October 13, 2006 – Federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) Ministers responsible for Justice concluded their meeting today, after substantive discussions on key issues currently facing Canada’s justice system, such as legal aid funding, drugs, sentencing, youth justice and organized crime. Ministers noted the need for greater collaboration and for investments to ensure public security and advance their common goals.

The meeting was co-chaired by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Vic Toews, the Minister of Public Safety, Stockwell Day and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Newfoundland and Labrador, Tom Marshall.

Legal Aid

Provincial and territorial Ministers again stressed, through unanimous resolution, the need for continued, increased and long-term federal funding for criminal legal aid and new funding for civil legal aid. They also requested a return to the former 50/50 federal/provincial-territorial funding formula.

Aware of the priority placed on ongoing funding, Ministers agreed to continue working in partnership to develop options for legal aid in the future, while identifying efficiencies in the justice system.

Organized Crime

Recognizing the need to collectively re-examine current approaches, Ministers asked senior officials to conduct a detailed examination of additional measures proposed by the provinces to assist the fight against organized crime.

Ministers supported the continued planning of a National Ministerial Forum to be held in spring 2007 to address the scope and implications of organized crime in Canada and their collective response to date, and to learn from the first-hand experiences of domestic and international partners.

Enforcement of Capital Market Fraud

Ministers noted the importance of the security and protection of Canada’s capital markets and agreed to establish a working group of officials, including police, securities regulators and prosecutors, to review ways to improve enforcement and report back to them at their next meeting.

Bail Report

The Recommendations on Bail Reform from the Coordinating Committee of Senior Officials (CCSO), which address a variety of important issues raised by FPT forums in recent years, were approved for implementation where appropriate, or referred to the FPT Working Group on Criminal Procedure for further development, policy work and consultation.


Affirming that the increase in remand counts across Canada is a concern, Ministers expressed the need for continued collaboration to identify best practices and potential solutions to the growing concern with remand pressures. Ministers also discussed the current Criminal Code provisions allowing courts to give credit for time served when deciding custodial sentence length, and considered some options that would clarify the use of these provisions. 

Policing Issues

Ministers discussed the challenges faced by law enforcement today and agreed to work together to address capacity issues such as recruitment and retention that are important to police services across the country.

Ministers also shared their views on the federal government’s proposal to put 2500 more police officers in communities across Canada. Ministers were assured that further consultations will take place with the provinces and territories taking into account respective policing needs.

Youth Criminal Justice Act

Several provincial and territorial Ministers reiterated their calls for action to address issues and concerns related to pre-trial detention and custody sentencing provisions for youth under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). Ministers also noted that the results of the Nunn Commission of Inquiry into the death of Theresa McEvoy will be available later this fall.

The federal Justice Minister committed to legislative action to include deterrence and denunciation as sentencing principles. The working group will continue to examine options regarding pre-trial detention and other recommendations. The Minister also indicated a commitment to early legislative action in some areas and a long-term review of the Act. Reforms would take into account the unique characteristics of each province and territory.

Dangerous Offenders

Ministers noted the Prime Minister’s announcement on the upcoming introduction of legislation to provide tougher sentences and more effective management of individuals convicted of sexual or violent offences. Provincial and territorial Ministers expressed interest, once the details of the Bill are known, to work collaboratively to forward suggestions for improvements, as required. In addition, they suggested that the breach of long-term supervision orders should make one eligible for an application for dangerous offender designation.

They also recognized the need to ensure rapid information exchanges between AMBER Alert programs and quick responses in cross-border abduction cases and endorsed the importance of a collaborative approach to this system. They directed officials to report back with recommendations for an interprovincial AMBER Alert Protocol.

Criminal Justice Reform

Provincial and territorial Ministers expressed general support for the objectives of the federal government’s crime and safety agenda/reforms. Federal Ministers noted that these initiatives responded to the concerns of Canadians and to requests of provinces and territories for law reform. Provincial and territorial Ministers highlighted that to ensure the success of proposed law reforms, greater investments in policing, courts and correction were necessary given the cost and operational impact of the reforms. Federal Ministers acknowledged these concerns and agreed to participate in ongoing discussions regarding the cost and operational impact of the reforms and discuss strategies to assist provinces and territories to implement these reforms. Federal Ministers undertook to raise the cost implications with federal colleagues.

While generally supporting the direction of the reform, the province of Quebec has expressed its disagreement concerning the exclusion from conditional sentences of crimes against property in Bill C-9.

Missing Persons

Ministers agreed in principle to the concept of a missing persons index and directed the FPT Working Group to work to resolve key ongoing concerns and to report back to FPT Deputy Ministers at their next meeting in January 2007.

Provinces and territories asked the federal Ministers to bring forward FPT concerns on a Missing Persons Index in Parliamentary discussions of Bill C-279.

Methamphetamines Report

Ministers recognized the importance of this serious problem, approved the Methamphetamine Report prepared by t he C oordinating Committee of Senior Officials (CCSO ) Drug Issues Working Group, asked officials to take steps for publication of the report and consider how best to implement key recommendations.

Proceeds of Crime

Ministers referred to the unanimous provincial-territorial resolution of November 2005 calling on the federal Minister of Justice to amend the Criminal Code to provide for the application of reverse onus, as set out in section 462.37, to other offences likely to generate proceeds of crime, when the Attorney General has proven that over the last ten years the offender has engaged in a pattern of criminal activity for the purpose of providing him with material benefit, or that the offender’s legitimate income cannot reasonably account for the value of all the property of the offender. The federal Minister of Justice indicated his support.

Ministers asked the CCSO Working Group on Proceeds of Crime to complete its work rapidly to find the best way to enhance the reverse onus provisions of the Criminal Code respecting the proceeds of crime regime.

Victims’ Ombudsman

The federal Minister of Justice took the opportunity of the meeting to indicate that he will pursue new initiatives for victims of crimes, including the establishment of a Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime for matters within federal jurisdictions. The federal minister noted that he will ensure that this new office respects the jurisdiction of the provinces and will not duplicate existing provincial and territorial institutions and programs.

Provincial and territorial ministers asked for a share of the federal funding.

Streamlining Criminal Justice

Ministers discussed options for streamlining the administration of justice, including the hybridization of certain offences and reform of preliminary inquires. They referred these issues to the Coordinating Committee of Senior Officials (CCSO) Working Group on Criminal Procedures and asked it to report back at the earliest opportunity . As well, Ministers accepted the Report on Early Case Consideration from the Steering Committee on Justice Efficiencies, and asked the committee, as a next step, to study the issues of jury reform and the use of technology in the courtroom.

Cyber Crime

Ministers discussed the prevalence and impact of cyber crime in today’s society and asked their officials to continue to work on the development of initiatives and approaches to address this important issue.

Ministers also agreed that CCSO officials continue to explore proposals for businesses to disclose breaches of personal information security and to address offences for on-line grooming, identity theft and fraud.

Impaired Driving

Ministers endorsed the need to amend the Criminal Code in an effort to strengthen impaired driving prosecutions. In particular, Ministers supported amendments that would restrict the use of “evidence to the contrary” to scientifically valid defences.

Aboriginal Justice

All Ministers acknowledged the importance of addressing Aboriginal justice issues as a priority. Ministers discussed challenges in the area of Aboriginal justice and the need to build on the positive results of the Aboriginal Justice Strategy. Provincial and territorial Ministers tabled a resolution that emphasized the importance of continuing to fund and significantly increase levels of federal funding related to Aboriginal justice. They asked the federal Minister of Justice to work with provinces and territories to develop a memorandum of understanding that would establish parameters of FPT collaboration and federal funding to address Aboriginal needs.

Non-returnable Warrants

Ministers agreed to direct officials to review the issue of fugitives who flee to other provinces or territories to escape criminal proceedings in their home jurisdiction. Ministers have requested recommendations on best practices and protocols between provinces and territories, and to review the potential role of the federal government in addressing this issue.

Missing Women

Ministers received a status report on the issue of missing women in Canada, and endorsed continuing efforts to improve the prevention, early identification of cases, enforcement and prosecution of these cases and to identify good practices for dealing with the families of victims.

Self Defence Provisions in the Criminal Code

Ministers agreed it was time to review the self-defence sections of the Criminal Code and directed officials to examine proposals to clarify the law and bring back recommendations .

Disclosure Review and Reform

Ministers agreed that the management of disclosure of large quantities of information is a significant challenge for investigators, counsel, and courts. Disclosure practices and disputes can lead to serious delays in criminal trials. Concerns have been also raised about the potential misuse of some of the disclosed materials. Ministers asked officials to develop recommendations for improving disclosure practices.

Support and Disclosure of Income Tax Information

Several provincial and territorial Ministers asked the federal Minister to pursue discussions on amendments to the Income Tax Act which could accommodate access to income tax payer information for family support purposes.

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