OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 05/28/13 -- The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and the Honourable Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, today urged their colleagues in the House of Commons to support the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act at second reading. This legislation addresses concerns raised by victims of crime with respect to accused persons found Not Criminally Responsible on Account of Mental Disorder. The legislation is a key part of the Government's plan for safe streets and communities.
"Provinces, victims, and concerned Canadians have been supportive of our Government's actions to ensure greater public safety and increase the role of victims in the Criminal Code mental disorder regime," said Minister Nicholson. "Today, our Government is asking all members of the House of Commons to stand up for victims of crime and support the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act."
"This bill responds to the legitimate concerns raised by families of victims. They want to be informed and to be heard throughout the process," said Senator Boisvenu. "Their safety, and that of society, will be a fundamental goal of this legislation."
The legislation has three main components:
Enhancing Victims' Involvement - the legislation would increase the safety of victims and provide an opportunity for greater involvement of victims in the Criminal Code mental disorder regime. The legislation would:
-- help ensure that victims are notified (upon request) when an accused person found Not Criminally Responsible (NCR) is discharged;-- allow non-communications orders between an NCR accused and the victim; and,-- ensure that the safety of victims is considered when decisions are made about an NCR accused person.
Putting Public Safety First - the legislation would codify public safety as the paramount consideration in the decision-making process relating to accused persons found to be NCR as noted by the Supreme Court of Canada. This will ensure that the law is consistently applied across Canada.
Creating a High-Risk Designation - the legislation would create a new designation to protect the public from high-risk NCR accused. Upon being designated by a court as high-risk, an NCR accused would be held in custody and could not be considered for release by a review board until their designation is revoked by a court. Additionally, high-risk NCR accused could potentially have their review periods extended up to three years. Such individuals would not be entitled to unescorted passes, and could only obtain an escorted pass in narrow circumstances and only if a structured plan is in place to address any undue risk to public safety.
Access to treatment for any NCR accused person would not be affected by these reforms.
This legislation is part of the Government's Plan for Safe Streets and Communities, which is one of four priorities identified by the Prime Minister. This plan focuses on holding violent criminals accountable, enhancing the rights of victims, and increasing the efficiency of our justice system. It also builds on actions that have already been taken to further advance the interests of victims of crime. These actions include the creation of the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, and the introduction of legislation to double the victims' surcharge.