An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Identification of Criminals Act and to make related amendments to other Acts (COVID-19 response and other measures)

Sponsor

David Lametti  Liberal

Status

Second reading (House), as of Feb. 24, 2021

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Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to, among other things,

(a) allow for the use of electronic or other automated means for the purposes of the jury selection process;

(b) expand, for the accused and offenders, the availability of remote appearances by audioconference and videoconference in certain circumstances;

(c) provide for the participation of prospective jurors in the jury selection process by videoconference in certain circumstances;

(d) expand the power of courts to make case management rules permitting court personnel to deal with administrative matters for accused not represented by counsel;

(e) permit courts to order fingerprinting at the interim release stage and at any other stage of the criminal justice process if fingerprints could not previously have been taken for exceptional reasons; and

(f) replace the existing telewarrant provisions with a process that permits a wide variety of search warrants, authorizations and orders to be applied for and issued by a means of telecommunication.

The enactment makes amendments to the Criminal Code and the Identification of Criminals Act to correct minor technical errors and includes transitional provisions on the application of the amendments. It also makes related amendments to other Acts.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

March 11th, 2021 / 11 a.m.
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LaSalle—Émard—Verdun Québec

Liberal

David Lametti LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Good morning, colleagues, and thank you to all the members from my departmental team who are here with me today.

I am pleased to help the committee as it studies the 2020-21 supplementary estimates (C) and the 2021-22 main estimates for the Department of Justice.

I am joining you today from the Department of Justice Canada, which sits on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.

Despite the challenging times, Justice Canada has accomplished an enormous volume of work to help ensure a fair, transparent and accessible Canadian justice system.

We continue on our reconciliation journey with indigenous peoples, including introducing Bill C-15, legislation respecting the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. This is fundamental to our broader efforts to tackle deep-rooted and systemic discrimination.

An important example of that is Bill C-22, which proposes changes that would reform sentencing practices and focus on diversion programs. It also proposes changes to treat substance use as a health issue, rather than a criminal one.

We also introduced Bill C-23, which provides greater flexibility on how courts hold criminal proceedings and issue orders. We must ensure that both victims and accused receive their fair and timely justice.

Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that our justice system remains fair, effective, accessible and equitable.

These priorities are echoed within the 2020-21 supplementary estimates (C), which include an additional $78.5 million this fiscal year, bringing the total budgetary authority for 2020-21 to $863.9 million.

Also, the 2021-22 main estimates include a budgetary authority of $794.5 million—an increase of $25.5 million from the previous fiscal year.

I would like to highlight a few key funding areas.

I mentioned Bill C-15 and our commitment to changing the relationship between the crown and indigenous peoples. To this end, the supplementary and main estimates include $2.6 million from the $2.8 million in funding announced in the 2020 fall economic statement. Coupled with funding provided to Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada to support indigenous partners, this funding will help us continue the engagement process as the legislation moves through Parliament.

The supplementary and main estimates also include an increase of $7.3 million per year to continue to respond to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls final report. This will extend family information liaison units and community-based services to provide direct support to families of victims.

We are also focused on supporting the courts. The supplementary estimates of both the court administration service and the registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada include funding to help courts serve Canadians and adapt to new realities.

The supplementary estimates also include $20.3 million to address immigration and refugee legal aid pressures, to help provinces maintain service delivery levels and prevent processing delays for asylum seekers.

We are also taking action to better respond to the needs of families, particularly children, during divorce or separation. The supplementary and main estimates include, respectively, $1 million and $6.7 million to implement new family support enforcement provisions and to increase access to family justice services in the official language of one's choice.

Budget 2019 announced funding of $21.6 million over five years, starting in 2020-21, to support these provisions. These funds will help the department transform the Canadian justice system to better serve all Canadians. Our government will continue to push ahead with measures to create a strong, equitable and effective justice system that protects Canadians, their communities and their rights.

Thank you for your time. I'm now happy to take questions.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

February 24th, 2021 / 7:40 p.m.
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LaSalle—Émard—Verdun Québec

Liberal

David Lametti LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada