PHOTO: The Department of Justice Canada (DOJ)
Bill C-5, amending the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, was referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on March 31, 2022 by a vote of 212 to 118 and it is currently being reviewed.
Bill C-5 aims to amend sentencing laws to increase alternatives to incarceration where appropriate, including for Indigenous peoples as well as Black and marginalized Canadians. The Bill proposes the following specific reforms:
This would restore the ability of a judge to impose appropriate sentences that respond to the facts of the case before them, including the individual’s experience with systemic racism and the risk they pose to public safety. This moves away from the one-size-fits-all approach, which has not deterred crime but has resulted in unfair outcomes and a less effective criminal justice system, as well as longer and more complex trials.
Conditional sentences are available in cases where an offender faces a term of less than two years’ imprisonment and does not pose a threat to public safety. Under these circumstances, judges would have the option to order that the term be served in the community under strict conditions, including house arrest, curfew, and mandatory counselling or treatment for substance abuse. This change would allow for more effective rehabilitation and reintegration by enabling individuals to maintain their employment, or continue caring for children or family members in need. This approach has been proven to reduce the chance of offenders committing further crimes.
The Federation of Ontario Law Associations (FOLA), is an organization that represents the associations and members of the 46 local law associations across Ontario. Together with our associate member, The Toronto Lawyers Association, we represent approximately 12,000 lawyers, most of who are in private practice in firms across the province.