Following two days of productive meetings with federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for justice and public safety, Murray Rankin, Attorney General, and Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, have secured a commitment from the federal government on addressing repeat offending countrywide.
“Everyone deserves to feel safe in their communities. Through conversations with my provincial and territorial counterparts, it’s clear that repeat offending and violent stranger attacks are a major concern right across the country as unintended consequences of recent federal law changes and subsequent Supreme Court decisions,” Rankin said. “These national changes have made it more difficult to hold violent offenders in custody while they are awaiting trial. The federal government is now aware of the seriousness of this issue across Canada and has committed to working with us to urgently address these issues.”
In response to B.C.’s advocacy for federal action, the federal, provincial and territorial ministers unanimously agreed to an urgent followup meeting with the ministers responsible to consider concrete national proposals to address bail provisions for violent offenders and the challenges of repeat offending. Ottawa has also committed to exploring financing options to better support provinces and territories in administering justice services. These efforts will also take into account shared commitments to reduce the over-incarceration of Indigenous Peoples and racialized people, and address the root causes of crime.
“We’re working across all fronts to make communities safer in B.C.,” Farnworth said. “We’re already moving forward on the expert recommendations we received earlier this month, but we’re hearing that these same challenges are happening right across the country. We can’t do this alone. I am glad the federal government is on board and willing to do their part by bringing concrete national proposals forward around bail provisions to help improve public safety for all Canadians.”
In December 2019, federal Bill C75 introduced amendments to the Criminal Code to address the disproportionate impacts of the criminal justice system on Indigenous Peoples and racialized people by giving primary consideration to the release of the accused at the earliest reasonable opportunity, on the least onerous conditions that are appropriate for the circumstance. Subsequent Supreme Court decisions have confirmed that pretrial detention is the exception and pretrial release on bail is the rule.
Earlier this fall, the Province, in co-operation with the BC Urban Mayors Caucus, received an independent investigative report about the challenges of repeat offending and unprovoked, violent stranger attacks that some communities are facing. Work on the recommendations is underway, including bringing back the successful Prolific Offender Management program, which reduced repeat offending by as much as 40% in its first year.
B.C. releases full expert investigation into repeat offending: