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Saskatchewan Supports Announcement On Bail Reform

Released on March 14, 2023

Releases New Bail Policy For Provincial Crown Prosecutors

Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre joined with her provincial/territorial counterparts in Ottawa last week to call on the federal government to reform Canada's broken bail system.

On Friday, following the meetings, federal Justice Minister David Lametti announced a commitment to "move forward quickly on targeted reforms to the Criminal Code on bail," calling it the result of "good faith collaboration by all levels of government to address the needs posed by repeat violent offenders."

Minister Eyre had highlighted the impacts of federal Bill C-75, passed in 2019, which established a "principle of restraint" and favours release on bail at the "earliest reasonable opportunity" on the "least onerous conditions." Saskatchewan put forward potential amendments to the Criminal Code to hold repeat violent offenders accountable, improve public safety, and restore Canadians' confidence in the justice system.

"Bill C-75 codified 'catch and release' as the default on bail, by adding the principle of restraint under Section 493.1 to the Criminal Code," Eyre said. "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."

Saskatchewan proposed creating reverse onuses on bail for repeat violent offenders; strengthening language around the importance of community safety; and requiring judges to provide written consideration of the impacts to public safety when releasing violent offenders on bail.

The province is also releasing an updated provincial bail policy, which 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.

"While respecting prosecutorial discretion above all, I have requested that the new policy explicitly emphasize that where any of the conditions for refusing bail are met, prosecutors should advocate for the detention of repeat violent offenders, in particular, awaiting trial," Eyre said.

The new provisions, under the heading 'Safe Communities: Protecting Public Safety and Confidence in Saskatchewan's Justice System,' explicitly state that:

  • 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.
  • 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.


For more information, contact:

Ariane Whiting
Justice and Attorney General
Phone: 306-787-8621

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