Saskatchewan is introducing some new reforms to its bail system, following meetings on the same topic between justice ministers.
Last week, Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre joined a meeting between the Federal Justice Minister David Lametti and her provincial and territorial counterparts, discussing the current bail system.
After the meeting, Minister Lametti announced a commitment to "move forward quickly on targeted reforms to the Criminal Code on bail,", calling the meeting a "good faith collaboration".
During the meeting, 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 on public safety when releasing violent offenders on bail.
The province will also be updating its own provincial bail policy, building on existing practices and policies that crown prosecutors consider when assessing risk.
These changes, under the heading 'Safe Communities: Protecting Public Safety and Confidence in Saskatchewan's Justice System,' include:
- 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.