In September 2011, the Government of Canada introduced the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10). According to a press release by the Department of Justice Canada, this Bill proposes various amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada, including provisions to “increase the mandatory minimum penalties for nine existing offences to better reflect the serious nature of these offences, as well as to bring greater consistency in sentencing in these cases.”
This Bill passed the House of Commons on December 5, 2011, had the First Reading in the Senate on December 6th, and had the Second Reading in the Senate on December 16th. Bill C-10 now rests with the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, which is currently conducting hearings to inform their decision- making process. According to the CBC, during the hearings last week, Federal Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada Robert Nicholson, and Federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews called on senators to approve Bill C-10 expeditiously.
Provincial governments have raised concerns regarding the increase in costs for implementing Bill C-10, stating that prisoner populations would increase as a result of this new proposed legislation. According to the CBC, Minister Nicholson said that transfer payments from the federal government to the provinces have increased in recent years and that the cost of crime to society far exceeds the cost of fighting it. Minister Toews also suggested it is unfair for the provinces to ask the federal government for more money because of its policies when some provincial policies have resulted in more costs for the federal government. He said there has been a breakdown in the delivery of mental health services at the provincial level and that has had the consequence of increasing the number of individuals with mental health conditions in the corrections system.
For more information about Bill C-10, see backgrounder “Safe Streets and Communities Act,” Department of Justice Canada, September 2011 at www.justice.gc.ca.
See article “Omnibus crime bill hearings underway in Senate,” CBC, February 1, 2012 at www.cbc.ca.