State of the Criminal Justice System - 2019 Report

Minister's message

I am pleased to present this report on the state of Canada’s criminal justice system and to introduce the framework that will monitor its performance.

One of my top priorities as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada has been to conduct a thorough review of our criminal justice system. In 2016, we started a national conversation about transforming this system. In March 2018, we released What we heard - Transforming Canada’s criminal justice system. Through public consultations with over 11,000 Canadians and a series of 27 roundtables held across the country, we received a clear message that Canadians want a fair, efficient, and compassionate criminal justice system, and one that promotes a safe, peaceful, and prosperous Canadian society.

An important part of the criminal justice system review included assessing the system’s strengths and areas to improve. Longstanding gaps in data and information about the criminal justice system seriously limit the ability to evaluate the system’s performance and support evidence-based decisions. As part of its commitment to review the criminal justice system and as part of its broader efforts to identify and address data gaps that hinder evidence-based decision-making, the Department of Justice Canada’s Research and Statistics Division developed the first performance monitoring framework for the Canadian criminal justice system. Information from the Framework is presented in this State of the Criminal Justice System Annual Report and an online interactive Dashboard.

This first annual report presents nine broad outcomes for the criminal justice system, along with over 40 performance indicators that measure the Government’s progress toward these goals. The results of this work offer guidance about where we can build on our existing strengths and where we should focus our efforts in order to effect lasting change.

The most important goal of the criminal justice system is to ensure the safety of all Canadians. Nevertheless, we must acknowledge that our current system does not serve all Canadians equally. Indigenous people and certain marginalized and vulnerable populations are considerably overrepresented in our criminal justice system, both as victims and offenders. The Government has introduced and proposed significant changes to our laws, such as bail reform and improving how administration of justice offences are handled, as we know that these offences can function as a vulnerable individual’s entry into the revolving door of criminal justice. We have also emphasized the increased use of restorative justice, which is a priority for our Indigenous partners and for the Department.

This first report serves as a benchmark for monitoring improvement. There is still much hard work ahead, and a number of areas require further study if we are to fill the remaining data gaps. I am confident that the work that remains, and what we have already accomplished, will have a profound impact on all of Canada.

I would like to thank all those who have participated in the review and the development of this Framework. I look forward to revisiting the Government’s progress as we continue our work toward transforming Canada’s criminal justice system.

The Honourable David Lametti
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada