Justice and Public Safety Ministers conclude productive meeting focused on joint priorities

BROMONT, QC, Oct. 13, 2023 /CNW/ – Today, federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) ministers of Justice and Public Safety concluded two days of productive discussions on justice and public safety priorities.

In an earlier separate meeting, ministers engaged with representatives from the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and the Métis National Council. Discussions allowed participants to share their perspectives on several key issues: Indigenous policing, the federal government’s Indigenous Justice Strategy and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UNDA) Action Plan.

Synthetic drugs, illicit substances and cannabis market

The toxic illegal drug supply continues to be a driver of Canada’s overdose crisis, which has taken a tragic toll on individuals, families, and communities across the country. Ministers acknowledged the urgency of the crisis and the need to mitigate harms while balancing public health and public safety priorities. They discussed efforts deployed by different jurisdictions to address this issue, including avenues of FPT collaboration and participation in ongoing cross-border and international initiatives. Ministers also discussed challenges related to illegal online cannabis sales and the regulatory regime required of legal licensed producers. Ministers agreed on the need to explore further measures to combat illegal cannabis sales, particularly online, and to identify collaborative solutions for improving industry viability in jurisdictions with private retail models.

Bail reform and repeat and violent offending

A safe and effective bail system requires close collaboration across all jurisdictions. Bill C-48, which is progressing through Parliament, was developed to address concerns about public safety and increase confidence in the justice system related to repeat violent offending. Ministers agreed to continue working on enhancements to bail data. They also agreed to monitor the effectiveness and impacts of Bill C-48 after it becomes law. Within their own jurisdictions, ministers remain mindful of the potential impacts of these measures on groups who are over-represented in the justice system, such as Indigenous Peoples, Black persons and other vulnerable groups, and work to mitigate any negative consequences.

Contract policing

Ministers discussed the contract policing assessment led by Public Safety Canada, in collaboration with the RCMP. Contract policing partners acknowledged the hard work, professionalism and dedication of RCMP members serving their communities. Ministers noted challenges in recruiting and retaining police officers, the rising costs of policing and the need for flexible and responsive policing models that support community safety.

Ministers acknowledged the importance of provincial and territorial perspectives on potential changes to contract policing in Canada and committed to continued engagement with all partners moving forward.

Ministers noted the importance of clarifying intentions regarding the future of RCMP contract policing in Canada, considering the current contracts will expire in 2032. Public Safety Canada affirmed the importance of the RCMP’s Depot Division in Regina.  

Final reports of the Public Order Emergency Commission and the Mass Casualty Commission

The final reports of the Public Order Emergency Commission and the Mass Casualty Commission point to a need for effective, responsive, and coordinated policing across Canada, and enhanced intergovernmental collaboration and coordination to ensure the safety of Canadian communities. Ministers agreed that it is crucial that they work together to address the underlying issues outlined in the two reports.

Indigenous justice and policing

Ministers were updated on the federal UNDA Action Plan measures related to Indigenous justice and public safety across Canada, including the development of the federal Indigenous Justice Strategy. The Government of Canada will continue this work in cooperation with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, and in collaboration with provinces and territories, acknowledging the importance of respecting each others’ jurisdictions.

Ministers discussed Canada’s intent to enact new federal legislation that would recognize First Nations police services as an essential service. The need for sustained and predictable funding was emphasized during the discussion. The Ministers agreed to continue to work on this priority.

Ministers were also updated on some jurisdictions ongoing work to enhance public safety in Indigenous communities, notably in relation to enforcement of First Nations Laws.

These collaborative initiatives align with ongoing reconciliation efforts being advanced across jurisdictions.

Update on Canada’s Black Justice Strategy 

Black communities continue to be impacted by the effects of prejudice, discrimination, and hatred—from unconscious bias to anti-Black hate crimes and violence. The federal government provided an update on Canada’s Black Justice Strategy, which is being developed in collaboration with an external Steering Group of Black experts and leaders and in consultation with Black communities across Canada. This strategy will contribute to efforts to address anti-Black racism and systemic discrimination that has led to the overrepresentation of Black people in the criminal justice system, including as victims of crime.*

Hate crime   

Ministers also received a presentation from Mohammed Hashim, Executive Director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and Alison Whelan, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister Reform, Accountability and Culture with the RCMP, on tools that the foundation  is developing to help communities, law enforcement, and governments to better identify, investigate and prosecute hate crimes. Ministers shared their perspectives on measures and tools to combat hate, while recognizing that these crimes disproportionately impact Indigenous, Black and other racialized communities, Jewish, Muslim and other religious minority communities, as well as 2SLGBTQQIA+ people in Canada.

Firearms Compensation Program (Buyback)

Ministers were updated on the federal firearms compensation program and the federal government committed to engaging provinces and territories and providing more details in due course.

Cyber security update

Ministers were updated on the ongoing development of a new National Cyber Security Strategy. They also underscored the importance of ensuring that this strategy is mindful of the responsibilities of each jurisdiction and is developed through a collaborative process.

Foreign interference update

Ministers acknowledged the growing threat of foreign interference across all jurisdictions, democratic institutions and electoral processes. They discussed ways to improve information sharing and existing measures to counter these threats and protect Canadians.

Other priorities

Ministers discussed the rise in auto theft, and expressed concern with occurrences of violence in relation to these offences. The need for additional supports and investments, including at ports and borders, was raised.

Ministers were also updated on initiatives aimed at countering online hostility and cyberbullying. Ministers agreed that online hostility and cyberbullying can drastically impact the mental and physical health of individuals who are targeted by it. They shared information on strategies and actions in their respective jurisdictions to address this issue.  

Specialized sexual and domestic violence courts are a promising practice to better support victims and survivors before, during and after judicial proceedings. Ministers discussed ways to identify and support innovative approaches that aim to restore trust in the justice system.

Impaired driving remains the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada. Ministers expressed their concerns about the dangers of drug- and/or alcohol-impaired driving. They also agreed to monitor this issue and continue working together to make roads safer for everyone in Canada.

Illicit financial transactions and the crimes that facilitate them underpin many of the serious public safety issues that affect communities across the country. Financial crime often supports firearms smuggling, gang violence, terrorism, and the availability of toxic illegal drugs like fentanyl, all of which threaten the safety of Canadians. Robust anti-money laundering measures are central to detecting and preventing financial crimes. Ministers discussed efforts being undertaken across the country to tackle these issues, with a view to protecting the integrity of the Canadian economy and keeping people safe.

*Quebec shares with other governments the general objective of fighting racism and prejudice. In this respect, Quebec defines its directions and implements its own actions, including those made public through the Groupe d’action contre le racisme. Quebec rejects all forms of racism and is resolutely committed to fighting racism and prejudice in the province, exercising its full jurisdiction.Manitoba remains in a caretaker period and is not a party to this communiqué.


“Canadians from coast to coast to coast expect us to work together to address our national and regional challenges head on. This meeting was yet another example of that. We saw collaboration and coordination among governments and with Indigenous partners, working effectively in areas that directly affect people in Canada. We made progress in important areas such as access to justice and community safety. Together, we have already made significant progress in responding to concerns around bail and how the justice system deals with repeat violent offenders, and I look forward to continuing this important work with provincial and territorial colleagues on behalf of all Canadians.”

Honourable Arif Virani
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

“All orders of government must work together to keep Canadians safe. The discussions we’ve had over the course of the last few days enabled us to further strengthen our collaboration on Canadians’ priorities, including combatting gun violence and keeping repeat violent offenders out of our communities. We will continue to work with our provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners to keep all communities safe.”

Honourable  Dominic LeBlanc
Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs

“The Quebec government has been working diligently to provide Quebecers with an accessible, efficient and humane justice system. This meeting was an opportunity to present Quebec’s model of a court specialized in sexual and domestic violence. It is the first court of this kind in the world and is attracting attention from other countries. We were also able to discuss our shared concerns about sentences for sexual assault offences being served in the community with a view to maintaining public trust in the justice system.”

Simon Jolin-Barrette
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Québec

 “It has been a great pleasure to welcome my federal, provincial and territorial colleagues to the heart of the Estrie region. This meeting has shown that, beyond the issues specific to each province and territory, many topics bring us together and inspire us to cooperate. Intergovernmental cooperation is essential to helping us better serve and protect Quebecers. I am pleased to work on a shared priority with the Quebec government: the fight against online hostility and cyberbullying, on which we need to take decisive action.”

François Bonnardel
Minister of Public Security of Québec

SOURCE Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada

For further information: Media may contact: Chantalle Aubertin, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, 613-992-6568, [email protected]; Jean-Sébastien Comeau, Press Secretary and Senior Communications Advisor, Office of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs, 343-574-8116, [email protected]; Media Relations, Department of Justice Canada, 613-957-4207, [email protected]; Media Relations, Public Safety Canada, 613 991-0657, [email protected]; Elisabeth Gosselin, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Québec, [email protected]; Maxime Bélanger, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Public Safety of Québec, [email protected]

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