On Friday of last week, Saskatchewan's Justice Minister and Attorney General, Bronwyn Eyre, met with other provincial and territorial colleagues in Ottawa to call on the Federal government to reform Canada's bail system.
After the meeting on Friday, Federal Justice Minister David Lametti committed to, "move forward quickly on targeted reforms to the Criminal Code on bail."
Eyre commented that, "Minister Lametti's commitment is an important first step to begin to restore the balance on bail, particularly when it comes to releasing repeat violent offenders."
Federal Bill C-75, passed in 2019, established a "principle of restraint" and favors releasing offenders at the "earliest reasonable opportunity" with the "least onerous conditions."
Saskatchewan put forward potential amendments to the Criminal Code to hold repeat offenders accountable, improve public safety and restore Canadians' confidence in the justice system.
The province is also releasing an updated provincial bail policy for provincial Crown Prosecutors, while still respecting their prosecutorial discretion. It builds on existing practice and policies that Crown Prosecutors must already consider where public safety is at risk, including high-risk offences, those involving intimate partner violence, and children and vulnerable adults.
The three new provisions are under the heading "Safe Communities: Protecting Public Safety and Confidence in Saskatchewan's Justice System," and are stated below.
In certain circumstances, it is not only appropriate but necessary that Crown Counsel take a more stringent approach to bail, when a repeat violent offender is charged with an offence against a person or involving a weapon.
Crown Counsel must seek that person's detention unless they are satisfied, having regard to all the circumstances, that the risk to public safety posed by the accused's release can be reduced to an acceptable level by bail conditions.
As well, in considering the risk to public safety, a Crown Prosecutor must consider whether any factors indicate a risk that needs to be addressed, including whether, at the time of arrest, the accused: had one more outstanding criminal charges alleging an offence against a person or involving a weapon, had breached a condition of recognizance or weapons prohibition, was subject to any court orders, reverse onus provisions, and/or has a history of convictions related to violence, weapons, or endangering the public.