For Immediate Release
Justice and Public Safety Ministers work together on shared priorities
December 17, 2020 Ottawa, Ontario Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat
Today, federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) ministers concluded two days of discussions on justice and public safety priorities that are important to Canadians. Due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, ministers held virtual meetings to continue to collaborate on shared priorities.
Ministers resumed ongoing discussion on justice system recovery and the restoration of court operations. They committed to continue to collaborate by sharing practices put in place within their respective jurisdictions federally, provincially and territorially to support Canada’s courts as they adapt and restore operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ministers were updated on the work being undertaken in this regard through the Action Committee on Court Operations in Response to COVID-19. They agreed to work together on the challenges and concerns regarding the delivery of court services to northern, remote and Indigenous communities. Ministers also discussed principles that should be reflected in actions taken by different orders of government in response to the challenges and concerns identified. They shared experiences and ideas for modernizing the justice system, including using technology, and other measures to address challenges that have been created or exacerbated by COVID-19.
Ministers recognized the continuing challenges and financial pressures that each jurisdiction faces in delivering legal aid services, especially in light of COVID-19. They also discussed the need for increased funding for legal aid and agreed to continue to monitor the impact of the pandemic on the delivery of legal aid services. They also committed to collaborate to better legal aid services.
Ministers acknowledged the realities of bias and racism in the justice system and the importance of further work to address these very serious issues. Ministers agreed to share ideas for initiatives and reforms to address these issues, including systemic racism in the justice and public safety sector. Some ministers also underscored the importance of disaggregated data collection efforts to better inform the development of responses to systemic racism in the justice system.*
Prioritizing public safety and police work
Ministers were updated on federal firearms-related initiatives, including funding to support youth-at-risk and combat gun and gang violence, and engagement with partners on handguns. They were also provided with an update on the rural crime initiative, and provided their support for the continued development of a pan-Canadian strategic framework on rural crime.
“Collaboration is essential to getting through challenging times. The conversations we have had with federal, provincial and territorial partners over the past three days are critical to the advancement of issues that affect Canadians from coast to coast to coast. They enhance the ability of governments to work in a coordinated way and strengthen our response to ongoing challenges. I am pleased with the progress we have made.”
The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., M.P., Q.C.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
“This year has been difficult for all Canadians, making me all the more grateful to have had the opportunity to meet virtually with my provincial and territorial colleagues to advance important work relating to justice and public safety. I am encouraged by the collaboration and goodwill shared by all Ministers.”
The Honourable Bill Blair, P.C., M.P
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
*Quebec shares the objectives regarding issues related to combatting bias and racism, and intends to implement its own actions and measures, including those made public by the government of Quebec’s Groupe d’action contre le racisme.
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