The Canadian Criminal Justice System: Overall Trends and Key Pressure Points

Background

The criminal justice system (CJS) plays a critical role in ensuring the overall safety, wellness and productivity of Canadians. Efforts to ensure that Canada is a just and law-abiding society with an accessible, efficient and fair system of justice, directly contribute to the well-being of the country. Helping Canadians to feel safe in their communities and have confidence in their justice system improves their quality of life, as well as their contribution to Canada’s prosperity.

The CJS operates on processes and principles derived from common and civil law histories; international conventions; commitments to balance the needs of victims, offenders, and communities; and, respect for the separation of powers between the three arms of government (legislative, executive and judicial). As well, under the Constitution Act, 1867, Parliament has exclusive authority to enact criminal law and procedure; most criminal offences are found in the Criminal Code. The provinces have jurisdiction for the administration of justice, which includes implementing and defending the law from Constitutional and Charter challenges and establishing and maintaining courts and prisons in their province and prosecuting most criminal offences. Neither level of government can successfully carry out its mandate without the cooperation and involvement of the other. In drafting criminal legislation, the federal government consults extensively with the provinces and territories.

A successful criminal justice system is dependent upon the success of a number of separate but interrelated components including:

  • Law enforcement;
  • Prosecution services;
  • Defence bar;
  • Courts;
  • Legal Aid;
  • Victim services;
  • Correctional services;
  • Legislatures (which enact the law); and,
  • Various stakeholders, service providers and community groups.
  • Social support systems, such as housing, health care, education, employment and child protection.

The Current Canadian Criminal Justice System: Overall Trends

Crime rate remains stable in 2016

The traditional police-reported crime rate, which measures the volume of crime relative to the population size, remained stable in 2016 (rate of 5,224 incidents per 100,000 population in 2016; rate of 5,210 incidents per 100,000 population in 2015). The 2016 rate was 28% lower than the rate reported in 2006. Overall, police-reported crime rates have been decreasing with the notable exceptions of reported increases in 2015 and 2003 (see Figure 1).Footnote 1

Figure 1. Police-reported crime rates in Canada, 1962 to 2016

Figure 1: A chart representing police-reported crime rates in Canada from 1962 to 2016.
Note: Information presented in this chart represents data from the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR1) Aggregate Survey, and permits historical comparisons back to 1962. New definitions of crime categories were introduced in 2009 and are only available in the new format back 1998. As a result, numbers in this chart will not match data released in the new UCR2 format. Specifically, the definition of violent crime has been expanded. In addition, UCR1 includes some different offences in the "Other Crimes" category. Population are based upon July 1st estimates from Statistics Canada, Demography Division.
Source: Statistic Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

Text version: Figure 1. Police-reported crime rates in Canada, 1962 to 2016

A coloured line graph representing police-reported crime in Canada from 1962 to 2016. The Y axis is measured as a numerical value in increments of 2,000 ranging from 0 to 12,000. The X axis lists the following years from left to right: 1962, 1965, 1968, 1971, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1986, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016. Total crimes is represented by a light blue line in the chart, property crimes is represented by a dark blue line in the chart, other crimes are represented by a dotted red line in the chart and violent crimes are represented by a green line in the chart. In 1962, the total crime rate was 2,771 per 100,000 population, the property crime rate was 1,891 per 100,000 population, the ‘other crimes’ rate was 659 per 100,000 population and the violent crime rate was 221 per 100,000 population. In 1965, the total crime rate was 3,199 per 100,000 population, the property crime rate was 2,091 per 100,000 population, the ‘other crimes’ rate was 809 per 100,000 population and the violent crime rate was 299 per 100,000 population. In 1968, the total crime rate was 4,336 per 100,000 population, the property crime rate was 2,826 per 100,000 population, the ‘other crimes’ rate was 1,087 per 100,000 population and the violent crime rate was 423 per 100,000 population. In 1971, the total crime rate was 5,311 per 100,000 population, the property crime rate was 3,649 per 100,000 population, the ‘other crimes’ rate was 1,170 per 100,000 population and the violent crime rate was 492 per 100,000 population. In 1974, the total crime rate was 6,388 per 100,000 population, the property crime rate was 4,151 per 100,000 population, the ‘other crimes’ rate was 1,684 per 100,000 population and the violent crime rate was 553 per 100,000 population. In 1977, the total crime rate was 6,971 per 100,000 population, the property crime rate was 4,466 per 100,000 population, the ‘other crimes’ rate was 1,933 per 100,000 population and the violent crime rate was 572 per 100,000 population. In 1980, the total crime rate was 8,343 per 100,000 population, the property crime rate was 5,444 per 100,000 population, the ‘other crimes’ rate was 2,263 per 100,000 population and the violent crime rate was 636 per 100,000 population. In 1983, the total crime rate was 8,470 per 100,000 population, the property crime rate was 5,608 per 100,000 population, the ‘other crimes’ rate was 2,182 per 100,000 population and the violent crime rate was 679 per 100,000 population. In 1986, the total crime rate was 8,727 per 100,000 population, the property crime rate was 5,550 per 100,000 population, the ‘other crimes’ rate was 2,392 per 100,000 population and the violent crime rate was 785 per 100,000 population. In 1989, the total crime rate was 8,892 per 100,000 population, the property crime rate was 5,289 per 100,000 population, the ‘other crimes’ rate was 2,692 per 100,000 population and the violent crime rate was 911 per 100,000 population. In 1992, the total crime rate was 10,040 per 100,000 population, the property crime rate was 5,904 per 100,000 population, the ‘other crimes’ rate was 3,052 per 100,000 population and the violent crime rate was 1,084 per 100,000 population. In 1995, the total crime rate was 9,008 per 100,000 population, the property crime rate was 5,292 per 100,000 population, the ‘other crimes’ rate was 2,707 per 100,000 population and the violent crime rate was 1,009 per 100,000 population. In 1998, the total crime rate was 8,093 per 100,000 population, the property crime rate was 4,569 per 100,000 population, the ‘other crimes’ rate was 2,529 per 100,000 population and the violent crime rate was 995 per 100,000 population. In 2001, the total crime rate was 7,592 per 100,000 population, the property crime rate was 4,004 per 100,000 population, the ‘other crimes’ rate was 2,593 per 100,000 population and the violent crime rate was 995 per 100,000 population. In 2004, the total crime rate was 7,601 per 100,000 population, the property crime rate was 3,976 per 100,000 population, the ‘other crimes’ rate was 2,668 per 100,000 population and the violent crime rate was 957 per 100,000 population. In 2007, the total crime rate was 6,908 per 100,000 population, the property crime rate was 3,335 per 100,000 population, the ‘other crimes’ rate was 2,621 per 100,000 population and the violent crime rate was 952 per 100,000 population. In 2010, the total crime rate was 6,160 per 100,000 population, the property crime rate was 2,802 per 100,000 population, the ‘other crimes’ rate was 2,451 per 100,000 population and the violent crime rate was 907 per 100,000 population. In 2013, the total crime rate was 5,196 per 100,000 population, the property crime rate was 2,344 per 100,000 population, the ‘other crimes’ rate was 2,085 per 100,000 population and the violent crime rate was 767 per 100,000 population. In 2016, the total crime rate was 5,224 per 100,000 population, the property crime rate was 2,466 per 100,000 population, the ‘other crimes’ rate was 2,011 per 100,000 population and the violent crime rate was 748 per 100,000 population. Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

Crime severity increases

The Crime Severity Index (CSI), which measures the volume and severity of police-reported crime in Canada, increased 1% in 2016 (from 70.1 in 2015 to 71.0 in 2016); it was, however, 29% lower than a decade earlier in 2006 (CSI of 100.0). The violent CSI remained relatively unchanged from 75.0 in 2015 to 75.3 in 2016, but was 25% lower than the 2006 violent CSI (100.0). Similarly, the non-violent CSI (which includes property offences, other Criminal Code offences, all federal statutes and traffic offences) increased 2% in 2016 to 69.3, while being 31% lower than the 2006 non-violent CSI (100.0).Footnote 2

Self-reported victimization has declined, with the exception of sexual assault

Data from the 2014 General Social Survey (GSS)Footnote 3 showed that approximately 5.6 million Canadians, or just over one-fifth of the population aged 15 years and older, reported that they or their household had been a victim of a criminal incident in the 12 preceding months (down from one-in-four in 2009). About two-thirds (65%) of the 6.4 million criminal incidents reported in 2014 were non-violent (e.g., theft, break and enter, vandalism).
Physical assault and robbery has declined since 1999, while sexual assault victimization has remained stable (refer to Figure 2).Footnote 4

Figure 2. Violent victimization incidents reported by type of offence, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014

 Figure 2: A chart representing violent victimization incidents reported by type of offence for four different years: 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014
† reference category
* Significantly different from reference category (p < 0,05)
Note: As of 2014, sexual assault includes having non-consensual sexual relations because the victim was drugged, manipulated or forced in some way other than physically.
Source: Statistic Canada, General Social Survey.

Text version: Figure 2: Violent victimization incidents reported by type of offence, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014.

The coloured vertical clustered bar chart represents violent victimization by offence type for four different years: 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014. There are in total 4 categories in the horizontal axis. The vertical axis starts at 0 and ends at 140 with ticks every 20 points. There are 4 series in this graph. The vertical axis is "rate per 1,000 population aged 15 and over." The horizontal axis is "Type of offence." The title of series 1 is "1999." The minimum value is 9* and it corresponds to "Robbery." The maximum value is 111* and it corresponds to "Total." The title of series 2 is "2004." The minimum value is 11* and it corresponds to "Robbery." The maximum value is 106* and it corresponds to "Total." The title of series 3 is "2009." The minimum value is 13* and it corresponds to "Robbery." The maximum value is 118* and it corresponds to "Total." The title of series 4 is "2014†." The minimum value is 6 and it corresponds to "Robbery." The maximum value is 76 and it corresponds to "Total." Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey.

High satisfaction with personal safety and moderate confidence in the criminal justice system

In 2009, more than 9 in 10 Canadians were satisfied with their personal safety from crime (93%) and more than 8 in 10 felt safe in their neighborhoods at night (83%).Footnote 5 Public confidence in the CJS varies by sector. Based on the 2013 GSS on social identity, three-in-four Canadians (76%) have either a great deal or some confidence in police, compared to the school system (61%), banks (59%), the justice system and courts (57%), media (40%), Federal Parliament (38%) or major corporations (30%).Footnote 6 Canadians have confidence that the police will solve crimes, that the courts will convict the right individuals, and that the prison system will prevent offenders from escaping. However, confidence is lower when it comes to rehabilitating offenders, providing justice quickly, sentencing practices, and assisting victims of crime.Footnote 7 Confidence in the CJS is also lower among victims of crimeFootnote 8, and in particular, victims of sexual assault.Footnote 9

The Current Canadian Criminal Justice System: Key Pressure Points

In spite of an overall decline in the crime rate and severity, some key pressure points remain a concern for the CJS and may impact the efficiency and effectiveness of the CJS across Canada.

Efficiency and Effectiveness System Issues

Time to Complete a Case is Increasing

While the number of cases completed in adult criminal courts has decreased 17% from 2010/11 to 2015/16, the median case completion time in adult courts has increased from 120 days to 127 days during that period. The number of days to complete a case in adult criminal court also varies across the country: Quebec (228 days), Nova Scotia (170 days), Newfoundland and Labrador (171 days) and Manitoba (145 days) reported median case processing times greater than the national median. Similarly, the median time to case completion varies by the most serious offence in the case, from 58 days for Youth Criminal Justice Act offences to 277 days for drug trafficking, production and import-export offences (refer to Table 1).Footnote 10

Table 1. Median Time to Court Case Completion, Canada, 2015/2016
Offence Median Days to Completion
Youth Criminal Justice Act 58
Administration of justice 81
Drug possession 99
Impaired Driving 106
Crimes against property 113
Residual federal statutes 148
Other Criminal Code 170
Crimes against the person 176
Other Criminal Code traffic 177
Drug trafficking/production/importing/exporting 277
Total Offences 127

Concerns about the Bail processFootnote 11

Despite limited national bail data, some research has indicated that bail cases are frequently adjourned resulting in delayed processes and police are more likely to detain accused for a bail hearing than in previous years. For example, a study conducted in five jurisdictions in 2013, found that on average each day, about 54% of all bail cases observed were adjournedFootnote 12. This proportion varied by jurisdiction.Footnote 13 Further, an aversion to risk characterizes the exercise of discretion at all stages of the bail decision-making process and has contributed to a “culture of adjournments.”Footnote 14

Research has also highlighted that legislative reforms have resulted in onerous release orders (including high use of sureties, multiple release conditions and monetary assurances) being imposed on accused who are not detained. The extent of this situation has been noted as a challenge to the presumption of innocence due to the reverse onus placed on the accused.Footnote 15

These issues have recently been acknowledged in a report on Bail and Remand in Ontario (2017) which recommended a wide range of actions to address the situation.Footnote 16

Remand rates are higher than sentenced custody

Since 2004/05, the adult remand population (average number of accused persons detained in custody pending trial) has generally increased and exceeded the population of those serving sentences following conviction.Footnote 17 In 2015/16, adults in remand accounted for 60% of the custodial population in Canada (refer to Figure 3), up from 50% in 2004/05. Similarly, the proportion of youth (aged 12-17) in pretrial detention and the proportion of Indigenous adults in remand has increased from 2004/05 to 2015/16 (41% to 59% for youthFootnote 18 and 16% to 25% for Indigenous adults).Footnote 19 In 2014/15, the majority (78%) of adults held in remand were held for one month or less, including 53% held for one week or less.Footnote 20

Figure 3. Trends in average daily counts in adult provincial/territorial custody, 2004/05 to 2015/16

Figure 3: A chart representing the trends in average daily counts in adult provincial and territorial custody from 2004-2005 to 2015-2016.
Note: Additional data are available on CANSIM (Table 251-0005). Excludes "other statuses", such as immigration hold, which typically accounts for less than 2% of those in custody. Excludes Prince Edward Island and Alberta due to the unavailability of data for the full period.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Adult Corrections Key Indicator Report. Table 251-0005 - Adult correctional services, average counts of adults in provincial and territorial programs, annual. Custom tabluation, Department of Justice Canada.

Text version: Figure 3: Trends in average daily counts in adult provincial/territorial custody, 2004/05 to 2015/16.

A coloured line graph in which the blue line represents individuals who have been sentenced to custody while the orange line represents those who are among the remand population (meaning they are accused persons detained in custody awaiting a trial). The Y axis is measured as a numerical value in increments of 2,000 ranging from 0 to 14,000. The X axis lists the following years from left to right: 2004/2005, 2006/2007, 2008/2009, 2010/2011, 2012/2013 and 2014/2015. In 2004/2005 there were 8,423 adults in sentenced custody and 8,768 adults in remand, in 2006/2007 there were 8,672 adults in sentenced custody and 10,665 adults in remand, in 2008/2009 there were 8,772 adults in sentenced custody and 11,736 adults in remand, in 2010/2011 there were 9,575 adults in sentenced custody and 11,335 adults in remand, in 2012/2013 there were 9,854 adults in sentenced custody and 11,869 adults in remand, in 2014/2015 there were 9,223 adults in sentenced custody and 11,533 adults in remand. Source: Statistics Canada: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Adult Corrections Key Indicator Report. Table 251-0005.

Administration of justice offences represent almost one-quarter of cases

Also of importance to the overall efficiency of the Court is the impact of charges for administration of justice offences (AOJO), such as failure to appear in court, breach of a probation order, being unlawfully at large, and failure to comply with an order. Between 2006 and 2016, the police-reported rate of persons charged with an AOJO increased 26% (from 412 to 519 per 100,000 population) despite the consistent decrease (-16%) in the rate of people charged with crime in Canada.Footnote 21

In 2015/16, more than one in five (23%) of all cases completed in adult criminal courts included at least one AOJO, and of these, 72% resulted in a guilty verdict.Footnote 22 A custody sentence was the most serious sentence for cases involving at least one AOJO (51%) compared to the proportion of custody sentences for all offences (AOJOs included).Footnote 23 The estimated CJS costs of AOJOs in Canada in 2009 were approximately $730 million.Footnote 24

Crime is highest in provincial north and Territories

Crime in the north remains a particular concern. About 6% of the Canadian population lives in the provincial northFootnote 25 and 0.3% in the Territories. However, these regions accounted for 12% and 2% of police-reported criminal incidents in 2013, respectively.Footnote 26 In addition to assault, northern regions had notably higher rates of sexual assault and sexual violations against children, as well as high rates of criminal harassment, uttering threats and threatening or harassing phone calls compared to the south. In addition to a higher volume of police-reported crime, the CSI was also notably higher in the provincial north (113.7) and the Territories (257.3) than in the southern part of the provinces (65.1). Northern Saskatchewan reported the highest Violent Crime Severity Index (548.8), followed by northern Manitoba (423.4) and Nunavut (422.7) (see Figure 4). High rates of crime and violence in the north are influenced by many of factors. Many northerners live in small, isolated communities or remote areas and face the challenges of low education levels, high unemployment, and low income. These conditions are often accompanied by high levels of substance abuse, particularly alcohol.Footnote 27

Figure 4. Police-reported crime rate by north/south region, 2013

Figure 4: A chart representing police-reported crime rate by north and south regions of Canada in 2013
Note: Rates are based upon the most serious violation in the incident. One incident may involve multiple violations. North encompasses the Territories as well as the northern regions of Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. South refers to the southern regions of these provinces and includes Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Source: Statistic Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

Text version: Figure 4: Police-reported crime rate by north/south region, 2013.

The coloured horizontal bar graph represents police-reported crime rates by north and south regions of Canada in 2013. Because this is a horizontal bar graph, there are categories are on the vertical axis and values on the horizontal axis. There are in total 14 categories in the vertical axis. The horizontal axis starts at 0 and ends at 60,000 with ticks every 10,000 points. There are 2 series in this graph. The horizontal axis is "rate per 100,000 population." The vertical axis is "Province and territory." The title of series 1 is “North." The minimum value is 0 and it corresponds to "New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island." The maximum value is 54,978 and it corresponds to "Saskatchewan." The title of series 2 is “South." The minimum value is 0 and it corresponds to "Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon." The maximum value is 9,114 and it corresponds to "Saskatchewan." Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

Indigenous Canadians are over-represented in the CJS

Although police and courts statistics are not available by Indigenous identity, corrections data shows that Indigenous adults accounted for 28% of admissions to federal custody and 27% of admissions in provincial/territorial custody in 2015/2016 while comprising  4.1% of the Canadian adult population. Indigenous women accounted for 31% of admissions to federal and 38% of admissions to provincial/territorial custody (compared to 23% and 26% for Indigenous men respectively). At provincial/territorial levels, the overrepresentation of Indigenous offenders exceeds their proportion of the general population from double to almost seven times (refer to Figure 5).Footnote 28

Figure 5. Percentage Indigenous adult admissions to custody and general population by province/territory, 2015/16

Figure 5: A chart representing the percentage of Indigenous adult admissions to custody as well as Indigenous representation in the general population by province and territory in 2015/2016.
Note: Correctional data from Alberta is not available. Calculations where Aboriginal identity is known.
Sources: Statistics Canada. Adult correctional services, custodial admissions to provincial and territorial programs by aboriginal identity (CANSIM Table 251-0022); Census 2016. Custom tabulation prepared by Justice Canada.

Text version: Figure 5: Percentage Indigenous adult admissions to custody and general population by province/territory, 2015/16.

A coloured horizontal bar graph representing Indigenous adult admission to custody as well as Indigenous representation in the general population by province and territory for 2015/2016. The Y axis is measured as each province and territory in Canada. Starting from the top of bar graph, in Alberta, Indigenous adults represent 6% of Alberta’s general population and the correctional data for Alberta is not available. In Quebec, Indigenous adult represent 2% of the province’s general population and represent 5% of the province’s correctional population. In Prince Edward Island, Indigenous adults represent 2% of the province’s general population and 6% of their correctional population. In Nova Scotia, Indigenous adults represent 5% of the province’s general population and 10% of their correctional population. In New Brunswick, Indigenous adults represent 4% of the province’s general population and 11% of their correctional population. In Ontario, Indigenous adults represent 3% of the province’s general population and 13% of their correctional population. In Newfoundland & Labrador, Indigenous adults represent 8% of the province’s general population and 26% of their correctional population. In British Columbia, Indigenous adults represent 5% of the province’s general population and 31% of their correctional population. In Yukon, Indigenous adults represent 21% of the province’s general population and 70% of their correctional population. In Manitoba, Indigenous adults represent 15% of the province’s general population and 73% of their correctional population. In Saskatchewan, Indigenous adults represent 13% of the province’s general population and 76% of their correctional population. In Northwest Territories, Indigenous adults represent 47% of the province’s general population and 86% of their correctional population. In Nunavut, Indigenous adults represent 81% of the province’s general population and 100% of their correctional population. Source: Statistics Canada: Adult correctional services, custodial admissions to provincial and territorial programs by aboriginal identity (CANSIM Table 251-0022).

Indigenous peoples are also disproportionally victims of criminal incidents: 28% of Indigenous people living in the provinces and territories reported being the victim of one of the eight types of offences measured by the 2014 GSS (compared to 18% of non-Indigenous people). They were also more than twice as likely as non-Indigenous people to report being a victim of spousal violence (9% versus 4% respectively) and Indigenous people were victims of homicide at a rate six times higher than that of non-Indigenous people (7.2 versus 1.13 per 100,000 population respectively).Footnote 29

Large proportion of Chronic Offending

A disproportionate amount of criminal activity, particularly for property and administration of justice offences, is committed by a small number of offenders. Often, these ‘chronic offenders’ experience substance abuse and mental health concerns, and are disproportionately Indigenous.Footnote 30 In British Columbia, more than two-in-three offenders in 2012 were re-offenders; 40% had 10 or more convictions, and five per cent had 24 or more convictions over 10 years.Footnote 31 In 2015, property offences (e.g., theft under $5,000, mischief) and administration of justice offences accounted for 71% of all police-reported violations.Footnote 32 Statistics Canada indicated that 64% of persons with police contact in Saskatchewan had at least one re-contact with police, and that 21% of persons were responsible for 57% of offences over a three-year period (from 2009/10 to 2011/12).Footnote 33

High rates of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Problems

There is significant overrepresentation of accused with mental health/developmental disorders and substance abuse problems in the CJS. In 2012, 34% of Canadians with a mental or substance use disorder reported coming into contact with police, twice as many as those without a disorder (17%).Footnote 34 Police have noted an increase in calls for service, a significant percentage of which include incidents related to mental health and addiction issues.Footnote 35 In cases like these, police become the default responder.

There are various responses from the CJS to address these issues, including specialized courts and diversion programs. These programs are located primarily in larger cities and deal with only a small proportion of accused/offenders with mental health/substance abuse problems. Some research studies have found that graduates of drug treatment and mental health courts re-offend at lower rates than offenders processed through the traditional CJS; however, many participants in specialized programs do not graduate from these programs.Footnote 36

Increasing Costs and Operations

The cost of the criminal justice system is high. A Justice Canada report estimated that the total cost of Criminal Code offences to the justice system and society in 2008 was about $100 billion, including tangible costs of $31 billion. Roughly half of these tangible costs were criminal justice system costs. Police account for the majority of expenditures (57%), followed by corrections (32%), courts (5%), prosecutions (4%) and legal aid (3%). An additional $14 billion in costs is borne by victims, for medical attention, hospitalizations, lost wages, missed school days, and stolen/damaged property.Footnote 37

Table 2. Criminal Justice System Costs, 2008
Cost Category Costs $ (millions) Percentage
Police 8,587 57%
Court 672 4.5%
Prosecution 528 3.5%
Legal Aid 373 2.5%
Corrections 4,836 32%
Adult 3,869 26%
Youth 967 6%
Criminal Code Review Board 12 0.1%
Total 15,009 100%

Source: Costs of crime in Canada, 2008.

Costs continue to rise, in spite of an overall declining crime rate, particularly for police which continue to face changes in the global, online and under-reported criminal activity. The Fraser Institute estimated that policing costs have doubled from 2002 to 2012, rising from $6.8 billion to $13.5 billion in 2012. The study also revealed that policing expenses, the biggest single expense — $388 per capita in 2012 — rose 44%, as did corrections (33%) and court (21%) expenses. Expenditures increased over the past decade from $480 to $580 per capita.Footnote 38

Conclusion

Canada’s criminal justice system plays a critical role in ensuring that Canada is a just and law-abiding society with an accessible, efficient and fair system of justice. It is also a complex system involving many players, each with varied responsibilities and roles which must come together and work in tandem with each other.

Piecemeal responses (legislative or otherwise) to narrowly defined issues have contributed to cumulative impacts on the CJS. Today, there is a pressing need for broader, comprehensive criminal law policy reform that focuses measures that would significantly contribute to efficiencies, effectiveness and fairness. Effective implementation of more modern criminal law policy initiatives requires a multi-pronged approach including legislation, policy, and programs. Policy responses should aim to support a more modern, updated, efficient and effective CJS.

Date modified: