Federal government actions leading to better protection of Canadians and their communities
July 11, 2014 – Ottawa – Justice Canada
Bill C-14, the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act, came into force across Canada today. This new legislation strengthens the Criminal Code’s decision-making process relating to accused persons found Not Criminally Responsible (NCR) on account of mental disorder to make public safety the primary consideration, enhance victim safety, and provide victims with a stronger voice in the process. Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Peter MacKay highlighted its significance today.
- Bill C-14 ensures that public safety comes first when courts make decisions with respect to any accused person found NCR or unfit to stand trial on account of mental disorder.
- In addition, for even greater public safety, those NCR accused persons who are found by a court to pose a higher risk of committing future acts of violence, the legislation creates a new high-risk designation process. Upon being designated by a court as high-risk, an NCR accused would be held in custody in a hospital and could not be released by a review board until the high-risk designation was revoked by a court.
- Other effects of being designated as a high-risk NCR accused include a possible extension by the review board of the period between reviews (up to three years), the denial of unescorted passes into the community, and the condition that escorted passes could only be granted for medical reasons and subject to sufficient safeguards to protect public safety.
- The legislation also enhances the safety of victims by ensuring that they are specifically considered when decisions are being made about mentally disordered accused persons; ensuring that they are notified when such an accused is discharged and where they intend to reside, if the victims so desire; and allowing for non-communication orders between the accused and the victim.
- The reforms do not affect access to treatment for any mentally disordered accused person.
- The Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act also amends the National Defence Act to ensure consistency in the mental disorder regime in the military justice system. Those amendments will come into force at a future date to be fixed by Order in Council.
“Our Government is committed to protecting all Canadians and keeping our communities and families safe. I am very pleased to see the coming into force of another piece of legislation, introduced by this Government, to help ensure greater safety in Canada. Since the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act was reintroduced late last year, our Government has worked quickly to put public safety first; protect Canadians from NCR accused designated as high-risk; and enhance the rights of victims by passing this legislation. Through the creation of a new high-risk designation process, this legislation ensures that NCR accused persons who meet the higher-risk threshold are no longer a threat to their victims or communities across our country.”
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada