Peace Bonds and Violence Against Women: A Three-Site Study of the Effect of Bill C-42 on Process, Application and Enforcement

7. National Peace Bond Trends

7. National peace bond trends

The following national peace bond trends are based on ACCS data.  In order to make the data comparable across provincial and territorial jurisdictions, issuances and breaches were calculated as rates per 100,000 inhabitants.

Breaches, for the purposes of this analysis, are considered the number of section 811 guilty dispositions per ACCS report year.  Thus, the breach rate is calculated by dividing the number of annual breaches by the total number of section 810 charges (or issuances).  Graph 7.0 shows the relationship between issuances and breaches by province.  There is considerable variability between provinces on the percentage of breaches to issuances processed by the courts.

Graph 7: Peace Bond Issuances and Breaches per 100,000 Population Shown as Percent of Total (1999-00)

Graph 7.0, peace bonds issurances and breaches per 100 000 population shown as percent of total
[ Description of Graph 7 ]

It is important to keep in mind for this part of the report that ‘breaches’ here refers not to an individual or case tracking history whereby each respondent is traced to see whether he or she commits an offence or violates the conditions of the recognizance.  Instead, we are examining the number of annual Criminal Code section 811 convictions relative to section 810 issuances.  On a yearly basis, this is a defensible enough approach, given that our analysis of police data (N=573) reveals that 90 per cent of peace bonds are issued for a 12-month period.  However, it is likely that these numbers represent an undercounting of breaches.  For example, if the accused committed a subsequent offence against the complainant while on a peace bond, such as a further domestic assault, and the police simply laid an assault charge rather than charging for the breach, then this case would not appear in our numbers. [4]

7.1 Issuances

Though it must be remembered that ACCS data include peace bonds issued for all types of relationships, the survey indicates that the Canadian national peace bond issuance rate per 100,000 population climbed consistently each sample year since 1994/95.  The largest recorded increases in the national peace bond issuance rate took place from sample years 1994/95 to 1995/96 (+22.9%), immediately following the passage of Bill C-42. [5]  From 1994/95 to 1999/00, the peace bond issuance rate per 100,000 population rose from 29.6 to 45.9, an increase of 55 per cent.

Graph 7.1 : Canadian Peace Bond Issuances per 100,000 Population

Graph 7.1: Canadian Peace Bond Issuances per 100,000 Population
[ Description of Graph 7.1 ]

Table 7.1: Peace Bond Issuances per 100,000 Population
  Canada NF PE NS QC ON SK AB YK NT
1994/95 29.6 12.9 7.5 110.7 9.0 35.2 47.9 30.9 113.2 78.7
1995/96 36.4 21.3 4.5 133.8 11.5 44.0 44.4 36.8 194.3 168.6
1996/97 38.9 21.9 5.1 158.1 12.8 44.7 52.6 42.0 253.6  
1997/98 43.9 29.2 14.6 161.4 23.3 49.2 52.1 35.0 204.7 143.6
1998/99 44.4 32.6 18.2 157.4 28.8 45.4 58.5 38.1 240.6 155.8
1999/00 45.9 18.1 15.2 160.6 34.6 46.4 64.1 33.0 231.8 76.9

Peace bond issuances per 100,000 population varied considerably between provinces in 1999/00; from a high of 231.8 in the Yukon Territory to a low of 15.2 in Prince Edward Island.  Table 7.1 shows that provinces with smaller populations seem to experience more volatility in reported peace bond issuances.  In 1995/96, PEI reported a 40.5 per cent decrease in issuances followed by a 184.3 per cent increase in 1997/98.  Similar yearly fluctuations are reported for the Northwest and Yukon Territories.  Given the relatively small number of issuances of peace bonds in the Territories, and the relatively small population, minor variances in court practices can produce large rates of change.

Provinces with larger populations show less volatility and more steady and consistent growth in the number of peace bonds issued annually.  However, even in larger provinces such as Ontario and Alberta, there have been episodic decreases in reported peace bond issuances per 100,000 population.  Only Quebec has reported consistent annual increases in peace bond issuances since 1994/95.

7.2 Breaches

Since the passage of amendments to Criminal Code peace bonds, there appears to be no discernable change in the national breach rate as calculated by relative court processing of section 810 issuances versus section 811 convictions.

From 1994/95, ACCS data suggest that the annual national court disposition breach rate has remained relatively stable at around five per cent; from a repeated high of 5.1 per cent in 1994/95, 1998/99, and 1999/00, to a low of 4.5 per cent in 1995/96.  Graph 7.2.1 shows the trend line for the ACCS-derived national peace bond breach rate shown as a percentage.

Graph 7.2.1 : Canadian Peace Bond Breach Rate as Percentage

Graph 7.2.1 : Canadian Peace Bond Breach Rate as Percentage
[ Description of Graph 7.2.1 ]

Table 7.2.1: Peace Bond Breaches per 100,000 Population
  Canada NF PE NS QC ON SK AB YK NT
1994/95 1.5 8.9 3.0 4.1 1.2 1.1 2.5 1.1 10.0 9.8
1995/96 1.6 10.4 3.7 4.1 1.4 1.1 1.6 1.3 13.0 19.3
1996/97 1.9 12.7 4.4 5.0 1.3 1.3 2.2 2.1 15.7  
1997/98 2.1 14.8 5.1 4.3 1.8 1.3 1.6 2.2 6.2 23.9
1998/99 2.3 16.9 8.0 3.6 2.1 1.2 3.0 2.5 12.7 14.6
1999/00 2.3 9.2 6.5 4.4 2.0 1.4 3.3 3.8 16.3 4.8

Table 7.2.1 provides a provincial and national breakdown of peace bond breaches.  This is not the percentage breach rate but rather reflects the incident rate per 100,000 population.  As with issuances, there is considerably more fluctuation in less populous jurisdictions.  In 1997/98, the Yukon Territory reported a 60.4 per cent decrease, followed the next year by a 104.1 per cent increase.



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