Legislation and Policy

National Legislation

Restorative justice measures have been part of Canada’s criminal justice system for over forty years and are supported through federal legislation, policy and program responses. At the federal level, the Criminal Code and the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) enable restorative justice processes to occur.

For example, Section 717 of the Criminal Code provides that alternative measures may be used if the offender accepts responsibility for the offence. Sentencing principles in Section 718 articulate several objectives including (e) that sentencing should provide reparations for harm done to victims or to the community; and in (f) that a sentence should promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, and acknowledgement of the harm done to victims or to the community.

The YCJA includes several provisions that are consistent with restorative justice principles and practices including Section 3 (Principles), Section 10 (Extrajudicial measures), Section 19 (Conferences), and Section 42 (Youth sentences).

Additionally, a reference is made to restorative justice in both the Victims Bill of Rights Act and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. In both acts, victims have a right to receive information about restorative justice if they request it.

International and National Policy Documents

Following the 2002 adoption by the United Nations of a resolution on the Declaration of Basic Principles on the use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters, the Departments of Justice Canada and of Public Safety Canada conducted extensive consultations and created two foundational documents to guide restorative justice work in Canada: Values and Principles of Restorative Justice in Criminal Matters; and Restorative Justice Program Guidelines for Criminal Matters.

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