Conclusions and recommendations

5.1 Conclusions

5.1.1 Relevance

The evaluation found that the DTCFP is a relevant program that provides funding to an increasing number of DTCs in jurisdictions across Canada. The Program is well aligned with federal and Justice priorities. The most recent ministerial mandate letter and 2021 budget have committed to expanding the number of DTCs. As an alternative to incarceration, DTCs reflect the evolving perception that the criminal justice impacts of problematic substance use can be best addressed using a health-based or therapeutic approach.

The DTCs funded by the DTCFP are guided by similar, recognized principles of the DTC model. At the same time, there is flexibility for DTCs to deliver this sentencing alternative based on their jurisdictional context, profile of participants and the availability of local community-based resources.

5.1.2 Performance


The DTCFP-funded DTCs serve a small population of offenders, and program participation increased during the period under study. Referrals to the program can be uneven based on the willingness and eligibility of offenders, and the Crown and judicial role in the decision to admit applicants into the program. The profile of participants has shifted only slightly since the last program evaluation in 2015. DTC participants are mainly Caucasian men, although the proportion of participants who are Indigenous has increased somewhat.

The eligible target group for DTCs is defined by PPSC, although each DTC may further refine their eligibility criteria to be suited to their context. There are challenges to equitable access to DTCs based on some differences across DTCs in how the eligibility criteria are applied, waitlists for some DTCs, and barriers for those who live outside of the urban centres where the DTCs are located. While the eligibility criteria are, as a whole, considered appropriate, there is an interest in experimentation by some DTC stakeholders to allow for more case-by-case consideration of eligibility, taking into account contextual factors such as those related to the risk to public safety criteria (nature of the charge, history of violent offences). There is a perception that the current eligibility criteria may contribute to an under representation of some identity groups among DTC participants (e.g., women, Indigenous or racialized individuals) who are impacted differently by the criteria.

The evaluation found that DTC programming is highly individualized and offers tailored content based on participants’ needs and identity factors. DTC participants confirm access to many resources and participation in a variety of supports. A lack of community-based, stable housing for participants is one of the most commonly identified gaps in services. Mental health services and treatment beds are also lacking in some centres. The retention rate in the program is about 30%. This is not unusual for DTCs given the high risk to reoffend/high needs of the target group and the rigors of the program. Despite not meeting the standard for graduation, the evaluation found that participants can experience benefits from the program even if they do not complete all the requirements.

Anecdotally, the DTCFP-funded DTCs are seen to have a positive impact on recidivism and this is generally confirmed by the literature on the DTC model. The DTCs also have benefits in reducing substance use while in the program, and participants report other beneficial outcomes such as reconnecting with family, positive health impacts and progress on employment and educational goals.

Operationally, DTCFP stakeholders are generally satisfied with the implementation of their DTC. However, the COVID-19 pandemic was seen to have had a negative impact on the DTCs due to a reduction of in-person participation since a cornerstone of the program is relationship-building with participants and engagement by the judge and treatment team. Nevertheless, for some participants who may experience practical challenges with in-person attendance at court and treatment, the virtual model used during the pandemic restrictions was found to have some benefits and could be worth exploring following the pandemic.

The FPT Working Group meets regularly to share information about the DTCFP and the implementation of the DTCs across jurisdictions. There remains an appetite for greater connectedness at the DTC level to share lessons learned. To support reporting and learning about the program, the DTCIS has a number of limitations. While some information is available on the profile of participants and completion rates, there are significant caveats due to incomplete and inconsistent data practices.

Almost all jurisdictions are interested in expansion of DTCs, including establishing additional centres or increasing capacity to meet demand. Some stakeholders felt there were opportunities to look at new streams of participants for DTCs such as an early intervention DTC (diversion prior to guilty plea), DTCs for lower risk participants or those with less serious offences, an Indigenous focused DTC, and a harm-reduction focused DTC (e.g., different success criteria, different graduation criteria).


The evaluation found that the DTCFP is an efficiently managed program that has expended the majority of allocated G&C funding during the study period. Agreements under the Program with the PTs range significantly in value from between $75K to $1M per year, and agreements can include multiple DTCs. While the evaluation could not directly determine the cost-effectiveness of the DTCFP, Canadian and international studies suggest that DTCs are more cost-effective compared to incarceration.

5.2 Recommendations

Based on the evaluation findings, the following three recommendations are offered:

Recommendation #1: Continue to enhance sharing of information and lessons learned among the DTCs

The evaluation found that while the FPT Working Group is functioning effectively, results suggest that information sharing could be improved. Many DTCs would welcome more formal opportunities to connect with DTCFP-funded DTCs across the country to share best practices and lessons learned. Evaluation key informants suggested several options to enhance information sharing, for example: regular conferences, a regular newsletter, creating a repository of shared documents and resources; and/or community of practice or other forum for discussion. As jurisdictions and DTCs continue to explore expansion, these options will remain relevant to stakeholders.

Recommendation #2: The Program, in collaboration with the FPT Working Group, should consider ways to support DTCs in any efforts to include groups who may be under-represented or experience barriers to access

While the DTCFP is not responsible for DTC eligibility criteria, the profile of DTC participants and the perceptions of stakeholders suggests a need to monitor the reach of the program and address barriers to access that may exist. There are opportunities to support and learn from several DTCs that are undertaking efforts to address under representation through raising awareness and increasing connections with community-based organizations and greater case-by-case consideration of context in applying the eligibility criteria.

Furthermore, as almost all jurisdictions are interested in DTC expansion, there is an opportunity to explore the use of experimentation when increasing the number of centres, or the capacity of existing DTCs. The evaluation found there to be an interest among stakeholders in exploring new streams for DTCs and/or avenues to reach potential participants who face access barriers.

Recommendation #3: Examine ways to enhance DTCIS reporting quality and strengthen the expectations in funding agreements for reporting by DTCs

The DTCIS provides some information to Justice about the DTCFP-funded DTCs, but the data have limitations due to inconsistent and incomplete data from all DTCs. In consultation with DTCs, identifying need-to-know data points and resolving capacity and technical issues experienced by the DTCs would result in greater confidence in the data. Given some outstanding questions about under-representation among DTC participants, improving tracking of program activity from referral to acceptance in the program would contribute to greater understanding of current application processes.