Bill C-48: Bail reform
In September 2023, the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS), Luke’s Place, and the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) provided a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. This submission addressed Bill C-48, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (bail reform).
In the aftermath of tragic incidents, public narratives have focused on reforms to Canada’s bail system that will ‘tighten’ the system. It is understandable to feel outrage in the face of these incidents. Efforts to restrict access to bail, however, exclude evidence about incarceration in Canada, and do not consider the current context within provincial and territorial jails.
Bill C-48 pushes Canada’s bail system in a direction that will harm rather than protect individuals and the public by increasing reverse onus provisions. These provisions lead to increased criminalization of marginalized communities, including survivors of intimate partner violence.
Summary of Recommendations
To alleviate risks related to Bill C-48, our coalition of feminist organizations made the following two recommendations for amendments to the Bill:
- Remove the proposed amendment to s. 515(6)(b.1) of the Criminal Code, which would expand this reverse onus provision to apply to an accused person who has previously received an absolute or conditional discharge for intimate partner violence.
- Require a review by committee on the second or third anniversary of the day on which
this Act receives royal assent, rather than on the fifth anniversary.
In addition to these substantive changes, any reforms made to Canada’s bail system need to rely on an evidence-based approach. They must also consider, and be responsive to and compatible with, related necessary infrastructure, such as the:
- funding of appropriate research;
- completion of an impact assessment of Bill C-48’s potential unintended consequences;
- implementation of an external, independent evaluation of Canada’s bail system; and
- funding of community supports and social services to disrupt the larger relationship
between incarceration, mental health, addiction, discrimination, poverty, and other
Learn more below or download the Bill C-48 submission.2023-09-22-Bill-C-48-Submission