Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs
Issue 2 - Evidence for March 25, 2010
OTTAWA, Thursday, March 25, 2010
The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs met this
day at 10:35 a.m. to examine the provisions and operation of the DNA
Identification Act (S.C. 1998, c. 37).
Senator Joan Fraser (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Honourable senators, welcome to this meeting of the
Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs where we are
continuing our statutory review of the provisions and operations of the DNA
We are privileged this morning to have witnesses from the Department of
Justice and from Public Safety Canada. From the Department of Justice, we are
pleased to see Greg Yost who is a familiar face around this table. He is counsel
at the Criminal Law Policy Section; and from Public Safety Canada, Barry
MacKillop, Director General, Law Enforcement and Border Services Directorate.
Thank you very much for coming today. I think Mr. Yost will begin.
Greg Yost, Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice
Canada: Honourable senators, it is a pleasure to appear before you again.
When I appeared on March 25, 2009, David Bird and I presented a paper of issues
that we believed would be of interest to the committee, including the creation
of a DNA missing persons index to assist police in their efforts to identify
human remains and locate missing persons.
In my opening remarks, I stated that the question of creating a DNA missing
persons index has been studied extensively. I believe it is fair to say that
there is support for the concept. Creating the legislative framework, however,
is the simpler part. With everyone demanding more use of DNA for solving crimes,
finding the resources to make a DNA missing persons index work on the ground
will be a challenge.
There are new members of the committee, so I will outline the role the
Department of Justice has played in the study of a creation of a missing persons
index. The issue was discussed in the 1996 consultation by the Department of the
Solicitor General that led to the introduction of the DNA Identification Act and
the creation of the National DNA Data Bank.
The Department of Justice was involved in the development of the consultation
paper, particularly with respect to the discussion of the legal issues, but the
Department of the Solicitor General had the overall lead and sole responsibility
for the operational and financial issues.
Essentially, that division of responsibility has continued. The National DNA
Data Bank is of course a part of the RCMP, and the DNA Identification Act is the
responsibility of the Minister of Public Safety.
Interest in the subject, including private members' bills in the other House,
has kept the issue alive. Accordingly, a consultation paper was developed by the
Department of Public Safety, with the Department of Justice again leading with
respect to the drafting of the parts of the paper dealing with legal aspects.
That consultation was launched in March 2005, and the deadline for
submissions to Public Safety was June 30, 2005.
After the consultation, the Department of Public Safety established a
federal-provincial-territorial working group to develop a plan for the
implementation of a DNA missing persons index. I co-chaired, with counsel from
Quebec, a subcommittee on legal administrative and privacy issues. We developed
a legal issues paper, met with interested jurisdictions and, in January 2007,
submitted our final report to the main committee.
I was able to draw on that legal analysis when I appeared with other
officials before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security
that was examining Bill C-279, a private member's bill that would have
authorized the creation of a DNA missing persons index. I noted that as long as
the provinces can decide the extent to which they want to participate, then we
are not treading on their jurisdiction.
We can establish federal legislation to facilitate the interchange of
information. This interchange will be similar to the National DNA Data Bank. The
provinces are not forced to upload crime scene profiles to the Crime Scene
Index, but as you know, they are eager to do so because the service is useful.
While the federal government can establish a DNA missing persons index,
Charter and privacy concerns require that the legislation, protocols and
procedures that need to be developed to implement the legislation include
provisions to protect the confidentiality of the DNA information in the DNA MPI
and to prevent improper use of that information.
Furthermore, the legislation must contain clear provisions regarding who may
consent to the inclusion in the missing persons profile in the MPI, what
information the person needs to have full and informed consent, the ability of
person to specify whether the profile is to be matched against the Crime Scene
Index, CSI, and the Convicted Offenders Index, COI, and how the person may
withdraw consent. Clearly, addressing all these issues will require
collaboration between the Department of Justice and our colleagues in the RCMP,
the National DNA Data Bank, the Department of Public Safety, provincial
laboratories and law enforcement agencies.
Since my last appearance, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public
Safety and National Security presented its report on the statutory review of the
DNA Identification Act, which recommended that the federal, provincial and
territorial ministers responsible for justice and public safety determine the
best way to proceed with the creation of two additional DNA identification
indices; namely a missing persons index and a victims index. In its response
tabled on October 18, the government accepted all the recommendations in
principle, and is committed to consultations on a priority basis with a view to
developing a consensus on how best to proceed.
I will be pleased to answer your questions and we await your report and its
Barry MacKillop, Director General, Law Enforcement and Border Services
Directorate, Public Safety Canada: Good morning and thank you, honourable
senators, for this opportunity to share with this committee the efforts of
public safety relating to DNA analysis in Canada and discussions around creating
a missing persons index, MPI. This is an area, as Mr. Yost points out, where
much work has been undertaken.
DNA analysis is recognized as perhaps the most important tool available to
the criminal justice system since the discovery of fingerprints. It has the
ability to increase the overall efficiency of the system by shortening and
better focusing police investigations; helping to reduce prosecution and court
costs; avoiding the financial and social burdens of incarcerating innocent
people and exonerating the wrongly convicted; and ultimately enhancing public
safety by quickly identifying dangerous offenders and removing them from the
The National DNA Data Bank, NDDB, is a primary instrument that allows the
criminal justice system to utilize DNA analysis in Canada. Established in 2000
under the stewardship of the RCMP, the national data bank is comprised of two
indices: a Convicted Offenders Index and the Crime Scene Index. As of January
29, 2010, the Convicted Offenders Index, which is populated exclusively by the
national data bank, contains 183,098 DNA profiles of offenders convicted of a
designated offence. The Crime Scene Index, which is populated by the RCMP's
forensic science identification services, the Centre of Forensic Sciences in
Toronto and the Laboratoire de sciences judiciaires et de médecine légale in
Montreal contain 53,895 profiles found at crime scenes across the country. By
utilizing the data found in these two indices, law enforcement has been assisted
in approximately 14,000 investigations.
But the success of DNA analysis since the proclamation of the DNA
Identification Act in 1999 has also given rise to capacity issues in the
laboratories. Federal legislation proclaimed in January 2008, through Bills C-13
and C-18, vastly increased the number of designated offences for which DNA
analysis could be utilized, increasing these from 59 to over 260 offences.
The RCMP has undertaken the implementation of a major transformation process
for its forensic science and identification services, including a new forensic
investigation process that aims to reduce turnaround times and improve client
service standards. As you heard from Assistant Commissioner Henschel, when he
appeared before this committee on March 17, this new process has been well
received by stakeholders, and service standards have improved greatly over the
previous system. In 2009, the RCMP was responsible for uploading 2,939 of the
7,191 profiles to the Crime Scene Index. This represented 41 per cent of
profiles entered for 2009, as compared to the 34 per cent entered by Ontario and
25 per cent by Quebec.
Related to DNA analysis and the National DNA Data Bank is the concept of
developing a missing persons index, which is being explored by Public Safety
Canada and partners. While there may be benefits to expanding the abilities of
the national data bank to include the addition of an MPI, the current pressures
and challenges faced by the DNA regime in Canada need to be addressed first.
Work has been undertaken regarding the possible development of an MPI. In
2005, Public Safety Canada drafted a public consultation paper that explored the
technical and legal challenges associated with its development. In 2007, a
process design session was held that lead to a costing and implementation plan.
The final design report outlined three scenarios with corresponding costs.
The scenarios were differentiated by how long a person was gone before they
were considered missing; either 30, 60 or 90 days. The set-up cost is consistent
at approximately $10 million and the ongoing costs decline with the increase in
time missing. For 30 days, the ongoing cost estimated at the time was $3.5
million a year. For 60 days, costs declined to $2.65 million a year and for 90
days, $2 million a year, corresponding to the number of samples involved.
While this report provided three possible scenarios, challenges still remain,
including clearly defining who constitutes a missing person, establishing an
appropriate costing framework based on jurisdictional responsibilities for the
administration of justice, and the legal and privacy issues surrounding the
collection and retention of family members and other donor DNA.
Although the preparatory work has been done, the working group did not make a
final report because it was difficult to justify spending so much on MPI when
there were unmet needs in the forensic laboratories, and it was anticipated that
parliamentary reviews would make recommendations to require the national data
bank to increase its capacity. Since receiving the House of Commons report,
Public Safety Canada has led further discussions with federal partners seeking
their input on a variety of issues related to developing an MPI, including
costing, legal and privacy issues, jurisdictional boundaries and the criteria
for determining who is considered a missing person. Work is continuing on these
models and consultations are expected to continue with our provincial and
Finally, in Budget 2010, $10 million was identified over two years to address
the disturbingly high number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Concrete
actions will be taken to ensure that law enforcement and the justice system meet
the needs of Aboriginal women and their families. We at Public Safety Canada are
working with our Department of Justice colleagues to elaborate and define how
law enforcement and the justice system can best respond.
In closing, I reiterate our commitment to continuing our work with our
partners to strengthen the DNA regime in Canada and to continue to explore the
possible development of a missing persons index in Canada.
I will be pleased to answer your questions.
The Chair: Thank you both very much. Before I turn to questions, thank
you, Mr. Yost, for your letter about areas of concern. That letter is helpful
and succinct material for us.
Senator Wallace: Thank you for the presentations.
So there is no misunderstanding, I think all of us have some impression of
what would be included or should be included in a missing persons index and a
victims index, and how those indexes can be used to solve crimes, potential
crimes that exist today. We know there seems to be a great pressure and interest
amongst the public to see the indexes implemented, and as you have pointed out,
there have been a number of reports and studies that seem to support that
Can you describe for us, so we can understand logistically, the function that
will be provided by these two indexes and how they will or can interrelate with
the Crime Scene Index and the Convicted Offenders Index today? How will samples
be taken? How will it work within the framework that now exists within the DNA
Mr. Yost: I will take the first shot at that question, although Dr.
Ron Fourney is the person who knows best how things are done.
We have to differentiate between two or three different things. There are
unidentified human remains that must be analyzed. There are certain challenges
with that analysis; the older the remains, the less likely it is to be able to
take a regular DNA sample. They have to perform a mitochondrial analysis, but
that is a technical issue of finding a laboratory. There is one in Canada that
is capable of performing that analysis.
Then when a person goes missing, there are possibly personal effects for that
person — toothbrush, comb, et cetera — from which it is probable that one can
take a sample of their DNA. This is similar to an exhibit at a crime scene. The
expectation is that a forensic laboratory will perform that DNA analysis.
However, it is expected that we would be able to take DNA from close
relatives. This DNA is important to check, using parental comparisons that Dr.
Fourney understands and I do not, that we have found the right DNA of the person
on the toothbrush. That process is a high through-put process, and will be much
like what the National DNA Data Bank does with a convicted offender sample.
Presumably, the current kit will be modified. The police will obtain, from
the parents or a sibling of the person who is missing, samples on a clean card.
They will go to the National DNA Data Bank to put it into their automated system
and develop a DNA profile.
Then there is the trickier question of what the DNA is to be compared
against. There are models; I believe the State of Florida has this model down to
a science. They obtain, from the appropriate person, the consents as to which
index the person wants the DNA checked against.
One assumes every sample will be checked against unidentified human remains.
In certain circumstances, they might want to check it against the convicted
offenders index. That information would more likely be a good news, bad news
scenario; for example, we found your missing child, who is currently serving
time in Kingston Penitentiary.
However, for the reference samples in particular, the person may have some
hesitancy about having it compared against the Crime Scene Index and possibly
becoming a suspect in a crime. We will have to develop protocols to ensure the
clear explanation of what will happen and where the sample will go.
I understand that in practice in Florida, overwhelmingly, everybody says,
check it against everything. If one of my children went missing, I am sure I
would sign off on that as well. However, we need to have all that protocol
Mr. MacKillop: I do not think I have much more to add; Mr. Yost has
covered the subject. However, the area is one where there is less consensus
perhaps in terms of what we check the DNA against, how we obtain the appropriate
approvals to check the DNA against crime scene indexes and so forth,
particularly in the case of those who have gone missing who want to be missing —
those who do not necessarily want to be found. Who gives the authority to put
the DNA in the data bank in the first place, and how do we obtain those
The question of provincial versus federal responsibilities comes into play.
Those challenges are some of the ones that the federal-provincial-territorial
working group is struggling with before we can put forward a workable model to
which everybody agrees.
Senator Wallace: Going back to 2004-05, there have been a number of
studies and working groups on this topic. Increasingly, as people become more
aware of the capabilities of DNA analysis, the public has greater expectations.
I am sure a lot of what you are saying today was said five years ago, and yet we
sit here today without either of those indexes.
From your perspective, is it a question of these indexes not being given
priority because of the other demands now faced by the data bank — demands in
terms of increased expectations, with Bill C-13 and Bill C-18, as an example? We
heard about issues of resources; there is a need for additional resources to
deal with the demands today. When we add up all that information, is the result
that a missing persons index is not given the priority and the prominence that
many feel it should be given; and as much as we feel more should be done, the
day-to-day demands make it almost impossible? Is that where we are at with the
index; is that why it is not moving forward?
Mr. MacKillop: I believe it is fair to say that when the
federal-provincial-territorial groups and everybody started looking at these
indexes, the demands, the expectations and the challenges faced by the labs in
processing the DNA for the criminal indexes were such that there was less
appetite to add to that workload and to add to what the data bank could
accomplish at the time.
I think the indexes have always been a priority in the sense that they have
always been on everyone's mind. They have always been the topic of discussions
and study, and we have tried to advance them as far as we could. Given the
limitations, given the challenges in the labs, given the perception of the
service delivery that the provinces received from labs and so forth, there was a
hesitancy to add to that workload at that time.
Given the parliamentary reviews and the transformation process that the RCMP
has undertaken, and the benefits we have seen already from the transformation
process, I think that information will go toward increasing the appetite to
expand the data bank and expand the indexes.
Senator Wallace: To this point, has anyone been mandated within the
department to put together a precise to-do list of all the issues that must be
satisfied to create either or both of the two indexes — the missing persons
index and the human remains index? Has anyone put together that kind of detail?
Has anyone been mandated to provide that information and the timelines to push
the indexes through to a conclusion, or are we still at the stage of discussion,
debate and further consultation?
Mr. MacKillop: The mandate essentially falls under my area; I would be
working with Mr. Yost at the Department of Justice. We work with our provincial
and territorial partners, under the coordinating committee of senior officials —
and we report back to deputy ministers and ministers.
There is an expectation to report back to them. The indexes are still in the
consultation phase because there are issues that need to be worked out. The work
that is being done is on the issues and trying to work the issues through; not
broad consultations on the concept. We have not set a definite deadline to
complete that work, but we report annually to the FPT ministers of justice.
Senator Wallace: Is there an approximate timeline for these items to
be satisfied to move this work forward?
Mr. MacKillop: Maybe Mr. Yost can talk about the consultations that
are ongoing. We hope to have those consultations wrapped up relatively soon.
Mr. Yost: As mentioned in my remarks, the government accepted the
recommendations of the house committee and directed that consultations be
carried out on a priority basis. We have been undertaking substantial work. I
have here draft three of the consultation documentation.
The Chair: Do we have that document?
Mr. Yost: I am afraid not. For one thing, we have had two round tables
with experts; the first one, we brought in someone from the FBI and someone from
the Forensic Science Service in the United Kingdom. As a result of those round
tables, a number of adjustments were made.
I was in Montreal, taking advantage of the willingness of the Government of
Quebec to bring together its experts to go over the issues entirely in French,
which was kind of fun. The second draft was the day after the federal budget, so
fortunately we could say that $14 million has been mentioned over two years —
and I will return with details later — which made for a smoother meeting.
However, I have to fix that document as a result of those comments. Then it
must go up through my minister and the Minister of Public Safety for approval to
make the document public, hopefully soon. MPI is in the document, but it has all
those other issues we have to deal with.
Work is ongoing. I expected last week a complete Charter review of everything
we are considering. Much work has been done on the Charter, but they are taking
another look at the entirety of what is being proposed and how everything fits
together. I check my email every morning hoping the review has arrived, but I
understand that, as sometimes happens, other priorities pop up connected with
legislation. I expect to have that review soon. I cannot submit anything to my
minister or to the Minister of Public Safety without the Charter analysis, as
Substantial work is being done on attempting to estimate the costs. It is
easy to figure out how many people are convicted or charged with offences. It is
difficult to figure out how many of them are already in the National DNA Data
Bank. We do not want to resample these people at great expense and trouble when
they are already in the data bank. Work is also being done on reconsidering the
models with respect to the MPI that were developed at that time.
The forensic laboratories made it clear that they do not have the capacity to
take on this work, given their backlog, and the National DNA Data Bank asked
where this work would fit in if they suddenly had to triple their size to
respond to recommendations. We have now begun analysis regarding bare bones, if
I can call MPI that, to be included, as it must be within due course with all
the recommendations to government.
We are moving on the index now. There was definitely a hiatus. I do not know
whether the word "amused" is the proper word, but I was reviewing all the
material that had been produced, including the report of my subcommittee on MPI
legal issues, and I came across a phrase: "The subcommittee further notes that
the parliamentary review of DNA IA that will undoubtedly begin this year will
probably make . . ."
It did not happen. It would have been much nicer had all these
recommendations come down when government had surpluses as opposed to deficits,
so there are definite financial challenges here.
Senator Wallace: Thank you.
Senator Carignan: I would like some more information about the $14
million over two years included in Budget 2010. The Department of Public Safety
talked about $10 million over two years to address the issue of missing and
murdered Aboriginal women.
First, is this $10 million in addition to the $14 million? Second, is the
plan to use the $14 million to deal with the laboratory backlog or for new
development? And if it is to be used for new development, what sort of
Mr. MacKillop: First, the $14 million was for DNA analysis in Canada.
That is what was in the budget. But we are developing options as to what exactly
can be done with that money.
As you will no doubt appreciate, these are only recommendations I would make
to the minister. That is why I cannot say at this point what would be done with
the $14 million. As for the $10 million, it is not exactly the same thing.
These are two separate programs, and we are developing options with the
Department of Justice to define access to this money.
Senator Carignan: I understand that you got $14 million in the budget
without making detailed representations about what you would do with that money.
I am impressed with your results.
Mr. MacKillop: I am sure you know how things work when it comes to the
budget and the money allocated in the budget. Options are still just options
that we present to the minister.
Senator Carignan: When do you plan to make recommendations to the
minister? Since we will be producing a report with recommendations, it would be
worthwhile to include our recommendations in the options you submit to the
Mr. MacKillop: We always try to act as soon as possible when it comes
to money allocated in the budget. We never have much money in the budget. That
is why we try to submit options as quickly as possible. Then, there is a process
where the government decides whether or not to approve the recommendations.
The Chair: Would part of the $14 million go to the two laboratories in
Ontario and Quebec, or would it go just to the National DNA Data Bank?
Mr. MacKillop: Again, at this point, I can only tell you what the
budget says. All these options could be included in what we propose.
The Chair: If I understood correctly, Mr. Yost, that is an option that
the people in Montreal liked?
Mr. MacKillop: I was not there, so I cannot say what Mr. Yost told the
representatives from Montreal.
Mr. Yost: The only thing we said to the laboratory representatives and
the officials from the ministère de la Sécurité publique is that we were very
aware of the pressures on all the laboratories and that sooner or later there
would be news about the $14 million, but obviously we could not promise them
Senator Boisvenu: I am surprised that you cannot give us an answer
about the $14 million. Whether the money is in the federal budget or the
provincial budget, officials always come up with the figures. It is not the
minister who puts in the $14 million. Someone in your department must have done
Mr. MacKillop: It is always up to the government to decide how it
wants to spend that money.
Senator Boisvenu: That is not my question. I will give you an example.
In the Employment Insurance Act, the government is planning to add $6.6 million
to give victims of crime access to employment insurance.
In Quebec, we calculated what it would cost, and our figures were taken into
account. I do not mean to be combative about the answer you gave earlier, but I
believe you should know how the $14 million will be spent, because that
information must come from your departments.
Mr. MacKillop: It remains, at this point, advice to my minister on how
that money will be spent.
The Chair: Perhaps I can ask a question about the process. I take it,
from what you have said, that this $14 million was not the result of a detailed
request forwarded to the Minister of Finance saying we need $375,000 for this
and $5 million for that. This money was a governmental response to observations
and recommendations from various sources, including the House of Commons
committee, to the effect that more money was needed. The government said they
found $14 million and you were to use it as best you could. Is that a fair
understanding of what happened?
Mr. MacKillop: Essentially.
The Chair: I imagine that you are not satisfied with that.
Senator Boisvenu: The three laboratories told us that they all had the
same problem. They said they did not know whether $14 million would address the
needs. I would now like to come back to the issue of missing persons.
Senator Joyal: Senator Boisvenu, do you have the budget wording with
Senator Boisvenu: Yes.
Senator Joyal: Read the budget wording to see what the words mean.
Budget 2010 provides $14 million over two years to increase the ability
to process DNA samples so that the results could be added to the National
DNA Data Bank.
Since the results are added to the National DNA Data Bank, I imagine that the
three laboratories help add data to the bank and should have access to that $14
million. That is how I interpret it.
Senator Boisvenu: You used the right word, "should."
Senator Joyal: Reasonably.
The Chair: That is a clarification.
Senator Boisvenu: It is a grammatical clarification. I would like to
come back to missing persons. Statistics on missing persons in Canada are not
included in statistics on crime. That means that it is very difficult for police
to have accurate figures on suspicious or criminal disappearances, even with the
statistics from the Department of Justice. We do know one thing, though, and
that is that only about 15 per cent of missing persons cases in Canada are
Ontario's police force has the best record, with a 30 per cent solve rate,
because in 2001 it set up a special squad to handle missing persons cases. This
squad helps municipal police forces solve missing persons cases. The missing
persons index is crucial. The convicted offenders index includes DNA data on
people who have committed a crime. The missing persons index will include data
on victims, which can then be connected with potential criminals who continue to
You are aware of the case that came to light in Detroit last summer. A
criminal had murdered eight women since 1981. Using the victims and offenders
DNA index, police were able to connect the two and intercept the individual
after eight murders.
A missing persons index is even more valuable in preventing crime than the
convicted offenders index, because unsolved missing persons cases are due to
criminals who continue to reoffend. How is it that 500 Aboriginal women in
Western Canada have disappeared without a trace in the past 15 years? Is it
because of their origins?
Mr. MacKillop: I believe that the problem is a lack of coordination,
data and information in the system. These are the issues we are working on.
Senator Boisvenu: How is it that Quebec, for example, does not yet
have a centralized missing persons index? Every police force has its own missing
The Chair: Our witnesses cannot talk about that.
Senator Boisvenu: I will come back to the bank. Bill C-279 was drafted
in 2006. Mr. Yost, you were involved in drafting that bill.
Mr. Yost: It was a private member's bill, so we were not involved in
drafting it. I appeared before the committee with Mr. Bird of the RCMP. We
pointed out a number of problems with the drafting of the legislation that
should be corrected if it was passed. As you know, the bill was not passed, so
there was no reason to propose amendments. That helped us enormously in our
legal analysis. We used that bill as the basis for our legal analysis to
determine what should be changed to comply with the Charter of Rights and
Freedoms and address privacy and other concerns. But we were not involved in
drafting the bill.
Senator Boisvenu: Are you aware of Lindsey's Law?
Mr. Yost: Yes.
Senator Boisvenu: It is named after a woman whose child disappeared a
number of years ago. For 15 years, she has been lobbying for a missing persons
index. I understand that you do not have the authority to decide that a missing
persons index is necessary or not, but as a person who lost a child to murder
and as the former president of an association where 20 per cent of the members
are families with a loved one who disappeared without a trace, I believe that
the missing persons index is a crucial tool in police work.
The Chair: I think that that was not really a question. It was a very
good comment. There are five senators remaining on the list, so it would be
helpful if we could finish in half an hour or 40 minutes.
Senator Patterson: I have two questions. First, when members of the
National DNA Data Bank advisory committee appeared before this committee in a
previous session of this Parliament, they suggested it would be useful for the
purpose of criminal investigations to allow law enforcement agencies to upload a
victim's DNA profile to the database, that this information would help police to
solve crimes more rapidly.
Do the witnesses have any views on the creation of a victims index? Are there
concerns around such an index?
Mr. Yost: When we talk about uploading victims' profiles, there are
two situations. The one I cannot foresee anybody having difficulties with, or
causing any legal problems, is where we have found the obvious victim of a crime
— the headless torso that Dr. Fourney used as an example. It will help the
investigation if that DNA can be uploaded and compared against indexes. It can
be compared against the Crime Scene Index — maybe other parts of the body were
found elsewhere — but the Convicted Offender Index also will be of great utility
to the police to have identified this torso as perhaps a person who was involved
in the drug trade and convicted in the past.
The other situation is the victim of a sexual assault. The example given by
Mr. Bird, if not before this committee, then before the House of Commons
committee, was of an actual case in which a sweater was placed over the victim
so the victim could not see the attacker. The police eventually managed to
obtain the sweater; and in conducting an analysis of the sweater, they came
across not only the victim of that crime, but DNA from other women who
presumably had been assaulted in the same way.
However, even had these women been willing to upload their DNA so that police
could make this kind of hit, the legislation as we have it now does not allow
that. In that case, where we have the living human being, we have to obtain the
enlightened consent of that person to do the uploading.
Again, we may have a situation where the person is hesitant to have their DNA
uploaded to the Crime Scene Index, where it is automatically checked against
every other crime scene.
Those problems can be overcome. A victims index will be useful. It has been
recommended by the standing committee of the House of Commons.
Senator Patterson: On another subject, I understand that the U.K. and
certain U.S. states allow what is called familial searching, kinship analysis.
This technology was not considered in the DNA Identification Act since I believe
the technique was not completely developed at the time. However, it is seen to
be another aid to investigation. Again, what do the witnesses think of familial
searching, and are there concerns to be addressed?
Mr. Yost: I will take the first shot at the answer. When we appeared
in March 2009, we had our briefing for the Senate review, which was almost
identical to the briefing provided to the house committee. The house committee
did not address the issue of familial searching. I commend it to new members of
the committee for their reading. I was fond of it.
It is true there is no provision for kinship analysis. It cannot be carried
out under the existing legislation. As soon as a person is excluded as a
suspect, the National DNA Data Bank cannot communicate identifying information;
so even if we have, in accordance with the laws of genetics or whatever, a 99
per cent probability that this person is closely related to someone in the
Convicted Offenders Index, we cannot release it.
I would appreciate hearing the committee's views on whether familial
searching should be used. To me, it appears to be a useful tool for police in
limited circumstances, primarily because of the costs. We come again to
priorities and costs. They may not be terribly high for the National DNA Data
Bank but more so for the police forces, especially if the data bank, depending
on the criteria, sends a list of suspects. The U.K., with a much larger bank
than Canada's, developed a list of 40 suspects in one famous case. That list
means a lot of police time and energy going into the crime, and they have only a
15 per cent success rate, if I remember correctly.
In circumstances such as the disappeared sex trade workers in and around
Edmonton, that tool is kind of a last resort, but when you have that kind of
serial criminal loose, it would be an appropriate use of the National DNA Data
Bank. A fair amount of work is required to develop the protocols, procedures and
the scientific levels at which one can provide a degree of certainty, but the
legislation can be created to make the tool possible. How often it will be used
is another issue entirely.
Senator Baker: I have a couple of questions concerning Senator
Your address to the committee involved a substantial reference to the missing
persons index. You have reviewed the history of the previous legislation
introduced in the House of Commons, and you mentioned that the House of Commons
Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security presented a special
report to the House of Commons and recommended changes.
You further informed us that Mr. Yost appeared before the committee, and the
position of the government, or the Department of Justice, at that time was that
previous bills needed amendments and adjustments. You talked about the
federal-provincial-territorial meetings that have taken place concerning this
matter for several years.
On the assumption that Senator Boisvenu or Senator Carignan may wish to
introduce a bill in the near future to implement a human remains index and a DNA
missing persons index —
The Chair: Perhaps you should not attach names to your assumptions.
Senator Baker: I am going by the questions that were asked before the
committee, Madam Chair. I am going on an assumption, yes, but I would bet there
will be considerable interest. This issue has lingered on year after year, and
we have come to the point where bills were introduced and the Department of
Justice said they had certain amendments.
Would you make the major amendments available to the committee in relation to
the last bill that you gave evidence on in the House of Commons? That is the
first question, and the second is, would you agree that the legislation could be
You explained that you do not have the money to implement the carrying out of
the legislation, but the legislation can include a clause at the end of the bill
that says, this legislation will be implemented when the government sets aside
enough money to implement it.
There are two questions. One, would you make available the amendments, and
would you agree that even if you do not make available the amendments relating
to the Charter concerns you have with the legislation that you referenced a few
moments ago, those amendments will not stop the legislation from being
introduced and then amended prior to final passage in the House of Commons?
Mr. Yost: First, no amendments were ever actually drafted. If the
government of the day supported having the bill passed, it would be normal then
to ask the Department of Justice how it could be fixed. I have not reviewed my
testimony on Bill C-279, but my recollection is that a number of the problems
with the drafting were pointed out. I found a briefing note that I had prepared,
and it rattles off about six or seven of those problems. I believe they are on
the public record, so there are things that one can look at there.
Bill C-279 would have needed, in my view, almost a complete makeover to make
it work on the ground. One of its fundamental problems, for example, was to give
the Commissioner of the RCMP the duty to obtain the consents, but the RCMP is
not the police force for the vast majority of Canadians, so how would the
commissioner obtain that consent?
There were no sections dealing adequately with the consents required, and no
sections on withdrawing consent for a profile in the index. Those problems
needed to be addressed.
However, the fundamental problem at the time Bill C-279 was presented — and
the reason it was stopped — was because it was a money bill. It could not be
implemented without money, and therefore, while the house committee studied it
and we explained some of its problems, it was stopped for the problems that Mr.
MacKillop mentioned: the high price tag to implement it in a time when everyone
was struggling, particularly the RCMP, with turnaround times, et cetera, for the
analysis of crime scene samples.
Setting priorities is a fundamental issue of the government and for the
budget, and while we are working on a missing persons index — and we will
certainly have the numbers and the costs re-analyzed — at the end of the day,
the government will have to decide where the priority is and where a missing
persons index fits in to it.
Creating the legislation, providing the framework upon which the index can be
expanded in the future as there is more capacity developed, is possible.
However, even with the best will in the world, there is a shortage of
everything. It takes a lot of training to make people capable to do this kind of
work, et cetera. I am fairly certain that all the forensic laboratories will
want to take any extra funds that may come out of the $14 million and put them
into doing more and doing it faster.
Senator Baker: Finally, Madam Chair, the report of this committee will
soon be made available to Mr. Yost and Mr. MacKillop and their ministers. Since
this committee started examining this issue, I have read so many times the
words, "We will wait for the report from Parliament" — this committee and the
House of Commons committee — to implement the administration of this matter.
I presume, Mr. Yost, that when we present the report of this committee, you
will examine it immediately, and it will receive the approval of the minister —
just as the report from the House of Commons committee did — and that you will
proceed to implement the recommendations.
Mr. Yost: I think you are overestimating my power, senator. Unless I
am moved off the file, I hope the report will come in soon because, as I have
stated, we are in the midst of developing a consultation paper, et cetera.
Frankly, I am not 100- per-cent sure how much time the government has to respond
to it; but it will undoubtedly fall to me to provide the first analysis on what
this report implies and what it will mean; and presumably to Mr. MacKillop to
give government some idea of what the costs might be, and then to make
recommendations to the government as to what it should accept and what it might
express caveats about.
Is that wishy-washy enough?
Senator Baker: Yes.
The Chair: Mr. Yost, if you were not such an experienced witness, I
would have warned Senator Baker that he was exceeding your particular field of
The time available for a response is three months, I think. If we ask for a
response from the minister, the minister has three months, I believe — 150 days.
Senator Joyal: That is, provided we have a specific motion on the
The Chair: We have to require the response, but once that is done, the
minister has 150 days.
Senator Watt: Coming back to those missing women, to build upon what
my colleague on the other side asked, can you walk us through the process in a
practical sense? If the law enforcement officer has been notified — whoever that
person might be or wherever the headquarters might be — in regard to those
missing people, I imagine that there is general information out there. It may
not be DNA data necessarily, but the information is there.
If you have to obtain the DNA for those missing people from a family member,
I want a better idea of how you go about obtaining consent from those family
members. I imagine they want to find those missing family members; they might
not hesitate to provide that DNA wherever that is required. Can you walk us
through that process, how you normally proceed?
The second question is along the same line. Is there a possibility of that
information being restricted only for that purpose, and not necessarily for
general purposes? In other words, if you obtain the consent from family members
to use their DNA, can you restrict that use to the point that it will be used
only for that particular purpose and nothing else? Can you give us ideas on how
that process will work?
Mr. MacKillop: I will leave the legislation side to Mr. Yost. I think
legislation probably can be drafted to restrict or allow almost anything.
In terms of walking through the consent, unfortunately I am not a law
enforcement officer. However, my understanding is that all law enforcement
agencies have their own policies and procedures for dealing with missing people.
Agencies will take the information from a family member, friend or someone who
identifies the person as missing and they will fill out whatever forms, whatever
information they obtain. Then at a predetermined point of time — and my
understanding is that law enforcement agencies have different periods of time —
they will enter the information on the Canadian Police Information Centre, CPIC,
and that information will be available to them for investigation.
One challenge is the fact that all police agencies tend to have their own
policies and procedures, so they are not standard. The amount of information and
type of information that goes on CPIC is not necessarily standard across the
In terms of coordinating investigations or coordinating and sharing the
information that might be helpful in investigations of missing persons, there is
a gap. It is one that we are looking at as well, which is not including the DNA
but including the information and what goes on CPIC.
It has been something that has been addressed and raised by some of our
Western provinces in work they have done in Saskatchewan and B.C. The Canadian
Association of Chiefs of Police, as well, has been looking at this issue in
terms of information that should be available on CPIC with respect to missing
persons and how we share that information.
Senator Watt: That is one area you want this committee to focus on.
Mr. MacKillop: The committee could focus on that area, should it
desire to do so, but it would not be my place to tell the committee to focus on
Senator Watt: Do you have anything else on this issue?
Mr. Yost: A great deal of work is being done on the coordination of
missing persons. I am only peripherally on that file in the criminal law policy
section; another counsel works on that file. She alerts me if something is
happening relative to DNA.
However, my understanding is that they are working from the Ontario
Provincial Police model; seeing how they can make that model national so that
everyone feeds in the same information. When people are looking for someone, one
of the first things they will bring in is a picture. That picture will be sent
across the country to all police forces, presumably on a secure network at
first. Before anybody can look at it, we would need to have protocols and rules,
et cetera; but that is not my file.
The DNA is recognized as the last worst hope, if I can put it that way. The
accent is on obtaining the information in a uniform way across the country as
soon as possible, and hopefully finding the missing person rather than trying to
identify human remains further down the road.
Senator Watt: I believe that DNA can also be synthesized. We have been
told that is one area they also are concerned with, the issue of DNA being
planted at the crime scene to implicate certain persons. That scenario is a
Can the test distinguish between natural and artificial DNA samples?
Mr. MacKillop: That is beyond my expertise.
The Chair: Senator Watt, if you look at the testimony we heard
yesterday afternoon after you had to leave a little bit early, you might find
information on that question.
Senator Watt: Was an answer given?
The Chair: Sort of; Dr. Fourney also addressed it slightly the last
time he was with us.
Senator Watt: Are we satisfied with the recommendations that have come
forward to the committee?
The Chair: We have not had recommendations; we have had information
provided to us. However, you are asking a scientific question, which is why I am
I think both of you gentlemen have backed off scientific questions, have you
Mr. Yost: Dr. Fourney despairs of my ability to understand biology.
Mr. MacKillop: The biology of my high school and early university days
will not allow me to answer a question of that magnitude.
The Chair: Is that okay, Senator Watt?
Senator Watt: For now, yes.
Senator Joyal: Can you remind us if you put a rough price tag on the
cost to government for the establishment of missing persons index?
Mr. MacKillop: I think the work done in 2007 by the working group at
that time estimated start-up cost of at least $10 million; I believe the
five-year cost was in the neighbourhood of $23 million to $25 million.
Senator Joyal: Does that include the victims index also or would those
costs have been established separately?
Mr. MacKillop: Those costs would have been separate.
Senator Joyal: Do you have a price for that index?
Mr. MacKillop: I do not.
Senator Joyal: On the basis of your experience, can you figure out how
many millions we are talking about?
Mr. MacKillop: No, that is something I would have to talk to Dr.
Fourney about because the victims index may be somewhat different given that
samples are taken at the crime scene anyway. However, I am not sure how that
would work in terms of the added resources required to include victims DNA from
a crime scene into the National DNA Data Bank.
Senator Joyal: Mr. Yost, you referred to the Charter evaluation of the
proposed legislation in relation to a missing person. At that time, did you
receive comments or input on that issue from the Privacy Commissioner?
Mr. Yost: No, not from the Privacy Commissioner. We received an
analysis from the privacy branch of the Department of Justice. We consulted both
the privacy and the Charter people of course. We did receive that input. Their
advice will be beneficial to us in designing legislation, should it be the
desire of the government to proceed with legislation.
Senator Joyal: The privacy issues in relation to a missing persons
index are key to the functioning of that index, even more so than in the
National DNA Data Bank generally.
Mr. Yost: Yes, I agree. Mr. MacKillop referred to the person who does
not want to be found. When we are dealing with the missing persons index, we all
understand Judy Peterson's drive to establish this index. We always tend to
think of the young person who has disappeared and the parents, but a missing
person can be an adult who has other reasons to disappear. We have to develop
protocols, et cetera, as to who can ask for someone to be found, and if the
person is found, what we do then? Do we put two people in contact if the person
does not want to be found, for whatever reason, and we discover situation. That
kind of detailed work has not been completed. It is flagged as a serious problem
that must be addressed. Hopefully, in due course we will address it.
Senator Joyal: The next question is about the decision of the
government to accept the recommendation of the House of Commons committee dated
October 18, as you or someone around the table mentioned this morning. I
understand that the $14 million included in the budget addresses only
recommendation two and leaves the other recommendation pending in terms of their
implementation, as far as money is concerned.
Am I right in interpreting the budget that way?
Mr. Yost: Far be it for me to interpret the budget, but recommendation
two is addressed as well to the provincial governments of Ontario and Quebec
allocating additional funding to their forensic laboratories.
The National DNA Data Bank is not a forensic laboratory. Forensic
laboratories conduct the crime scene analysis. When I read that item, I thought
it was addressed to recommendation three on the forensic laboratory, the
systematic taking of DNA samples upon conviction. The report made the point that
before proceeding with the amendment, the government must provide the NDDB with
the resources. That is obvious. That work would far exceed their capacity and so
resources would be required, but I do not see the $14 million as being addressed
to the NDDB because I believe they were referring more to the other labs. I
could be wrong, and I suspect Dr. Fourney is hoping I am wrong.
Senator Joyal: In other words, there is no money in the budget. Did
the government have time to figure out the budgetary implications of accepting
those recommendations? Did the government set out in the budget a way to
recognize specific amounts in relation to any of those recommendations?
Mr. Yost: Recommendation two does not require any legislative changes.
It relates to operational issues. Recommendation three and the recommendations
for a victims index and a missing persons index require major legislative
change, and you know the process to develop options for cabinet, to draft
legislation and to have that legislation pass through the House of Commons and
through the Senate. We are not talking about money that will flow now. We will
have to attach dollar figures and identify a source of funds, or identify that
there is no available source of funds and leave it to government to draw
conclusions on funding and what it will support. However, with the best will in
the world, I would be amazed if we can have anything up and running before 2012.
Senator Joyal: In other words, if I understand your comments,
considering that the establishment of the missing persons index involves
government appropriation, a bill introduced in Parliament without the proper
Royal Recommendation to provide for the funds for it would not solve the
problem, considering that the adoption of such legislation involves the
effective appropriation of money?
Mr. Yost: That was the ruling in the house on Bill C-279; the bill
needed a Royal Recommendation since it involved the expenditure of money. I
assume that ruling will be sustained again if a similar bill is presented in the
house. I am not sure how the Senate deals with such issues.
Senator Joyal: The Constitution of Canada provides that any bills
pertaining to appropriation must originate from the House of Commons.
Mr. Yost, I want to go back to the letter you sent to the committee clerk.
When you appeared on March 26, you were asked to provide a list of specific
problems you see with the legislation, and to point out things that are causing
problems. I think at that time David Bird also appeared with you.
I know you answered that request, and the answer was provided to members of
this committee. Can you point out in that list of requests which item
necessitates amendments to the DNA legislation?
Mr. Yost: Believe it or not, that is one letter I did not print off
and bring with me because I thought we were dealing with the missing persons
index. Give me a copy and give me a moment and I will see what I can do for you.
I will make the overarching remark that this letter was addressed to problems
with the existing system. Certain changes, certain things that are required,
would not be a problem if the legislation was overhauled in a completely
different way instead of being based upon judicial authorization in each and
The first one, whether the conviction qualifies as a designated offence, will
necessitate changing the legislation. One possibility, if we are working in the
current system, is to have a clear demarcation so that if the offence is
indictable, it is a designated offence almost. That demarcation will pick up all
offences; then there will never be a problem in the court deciding whether the
offence was a DNA offence.
Senator Baker: What about the hybrid offence?
Senator Joyal: The problem is with the hybrid offence.
Mr. Yost: You might indicate whether proceeding by an indictable
offence that was proceeded with summarily could also be subject to DNA analysis.
If that offence was included, we would not have a problem even with one.
On the execution of the National DNA Data Bank orders, we have problems. We
know that the police are not prepared to rush around. Warrants are issued that
cause a lot of difficulties. If the system was automatic upon conviction, or
automatic upon arrest, which Senator Runciman mentioned, that situation would be
the police preference. I do not think I am giving away any secrets; in our
consultations, that situation has always been the police preference — we have
the person, and we take the DNA then and there. Then that problem disappears
obviously. I am not sure I know of a quick solution. We have to amend the
legislation to find some other way to take samples.
CPIC — whether it is already contained in the DNA data bank — I do not see
item as one that the legislation can address. On victims and deceased persons'
DNA profiles, I think we have been talking about including them. There was
mention there of an elimination database. We have to amend the legislation to
address that item.
Regarding the Crime Scene Index, not all crimes qualify as designated
offences; so depending on what is done with designated offences, it clearly
affects that item, which ties in with the other one.
Communicating close matches is kinship analysis or familial searching.
Clearly, we need to change the legislation for that one.
The letter refers to international exchanges. I am not certain what we can do
in the legislation. It probably follows from what we do with communication
domestically. Currently, the exchanges mirror each other, but there might be
some hesitation if we start to take DNA on arrest from people who have not been
convicted of anything. Do we want to share that information internationally?
That is something we have to consider.
Thus ends the letter, fortunately.
Senator Joyal: Finally, I will come back to the missing index persons,
because that is what you were asked to testify on this morning. In your
consultation, was any province or territorial authority reluctant to have that
Mr. Yost: Several provinces expressed concern regarding the cost.
Provinces that had their own forensic laboratories — not to name the two —
suggested they had no capacity to implement it; and they will resist anything in
legislation that purports to force them to implement it.
My co-chair on the legal issues committee was from the Province of Quebec,
which tends to be fairly protective of its jurisdiction. As long as we establish
it on a basis of consent and do not purport to require coroners to do anything,
because that jurisdiction is provincial, and play it like the Crime Scene Index
— here is a service we provide nationally; if you wish to upload, you may —
there are no objections. For anything that attempts to be prescriptive within
provincial jurisdiction, there will be resistance.
Senator Boisvenu: There are two schools of thought about the missing
persons index: one is that there should be 10 provincial indexes within a single
bank, and the other is that there should be a centralized index. Which would you
be inclined to introduce?
Mr. Yost: I believe that a centralized index would be preferable. The
legislation that was planned when the National DNA Data Bank was created
provided that the provinces would conduct all the analyses, even of convicted
offenders, and that the comparisons would be made in Ottawa on a single
computer. That legislation, Bill C-13, was not very successful. We had to amend
the legislation and centralize everything in Ottawa.
This is very beneficial in my opinion, because we can set national standards
and information will be in a standard format. Obviously, this method implies a
great deal of consultation and cooperation with the provinces and jurisdictions,
but I am certain that the desire to cooperate is there and that operational
problems can be overcome.
Senator Boisvenu: In your document, you talk about work done to
introduce a missing persons index: a preliminary version in 2005, a design
session in 2007. Are these documents available?
Mr. Yost: I know that I do not have permission to distribute the
document that was prepared by my subcommittee on legal issues. We never asked
the provinces whether or not they had any objections. It was for our internal
work. I imagine that the same is true of the other documents that were prepared.
Mr. MacKillop: Essentially, yes, the same is true. We did not ask for
permission to disclose the working documents we used and continue to use as we
move forward with the consultations and eventually, I hope, come up with a final
Senator Boisvenu: Madam Chair, it is important for the committee to
have these documents.
The Chair: If we do not have the right to have them, then we do not
have the right, but I will ask the witnesses to find out as soon as possible. If
anyone wants to go through the Access to Information Act, then that is another
matter, but I am asking in accordance with the rules governing committees and
relations between committees, officials and departments.
Senator Runciman: Mr. Yost talked about the budget, the $14 million
that Senator Joyal raised. The report that Government Consulting Services
carried out for the government indicates that Ontario and Quebec will need to
increase their capacity levels by approximately 65 per cent to meet the
requirements of Bill C-13 and Bill C-18, according to the findings of that
organization. They use a dollar figure of approximately $7 million a year for
both jurisdictions to meet the anticipated requirements under those two bills.
You are correct. That report indicates that there are no additional resources
at the federal level with respect to the challenges. One comment in the report
that is damning in some respects indicates that the RCMP has much more
technology — two to three times the level of staff — and fewer samples being
processed than in the other two labs.
I do not know if anyone wants to respond to that comment, but the report
concludes that the RCMP has the capacity but has not demonstrated the ability to
handle the extra workload. Has that situation changed, or is it driving the
wording in the budget with respect to exploring different delivery models,
including potential privatization?
Mr. MacKillop: At the time the GCS report was prepared, there were
challenges in the RCMP labs. The RCMP was also in the process of opening their
new lab, and a significant amount of their resources went toward training and
hiring new people.
The situation has been corrected with the transformation process the RCMP has
undergone. The report is dated, and the information was from 2005 to 2007. Much
of that situation has changed. Assistant Commissioner Henschel and Ronald
Fourney talked about the transformation process that the RCMP has undergone
recently, and the progress it has shown. The capacity referenced in that report
has changed, and the throughput and output coming from the labs is now
Senator Runciman: With respect to the wording in the budget, and
taking a look at different delivery models, can you indicate to us what plans
are in the works with respect to how you approach that delivery?
Mr. MacKillop: At this point, I can only reiterate what is in the
budget. We have been asked to examine alternative delivery models. There is no
foregone conclusion on the need necessarily for an alternative delivery model.
We have been asked simply to look at models and the way we go about delivering
them at this point.
Senator Runciman: Are you looking at them internally within
government? I have some concern with respect to looking at models solely from an
internal perspective. It is nice to have outside views with respect to the best
way to move forward.
Mr. MacKillop: In developing any recommendations or preparing a study,
we try to have as objective a view as possible. How we go about delivering the
service at this point is the advice I give to my minister.
Senator Runciman: It precludes this committee from offering comparable
Mr. MacKillop: This committee is free to offer anything it wishes to
Senator Runciman: Thank you.
The Chair: It is interesting that the government said it accepted in
principle all the recommendations of the House of Commons committee. As I
recall, one recommendation was against privatization. I was struck by that
However, I want to ask about various models. Also, I want to ask whether any
consideration has been given to, or whether you can offer us any thoughts on,
possible advantages and disadvantages of public-private partnerships. In
particular, is some such approach interesting for the creation of new services,
such as a missing persons index?
Mr. Yost: I am not an expert on public-private partnerships but
fundamentally, if we are to use this information in the way that I understand
it, it would be possible to upload to the Combined DNA Index System, CODIS. It
is also my understanding that the FBI insists that anything going to the CODIS
be from a government lab. The United States might have a couple hundred of those
labs because various police forces run their own. Fortunately, we have only
three. Even if the work is sent out, it would ultimately fall to the RCMP to do
all the work necessary to vet it and upload it to the CODIS.
Working out the details financially, et cetera, is not my job. Mr. MacKillop
has my sympathies because I think it is his job. Definite difficulties are
The first recommendation is to keep everything at the National DNA Data Bank
except in terms of emergencies, if I can put it that way. Some kind of
partnership might be appropriate to respond to the vast increase that is likely
to happen in samples sent to the National DNA Data Bank, whether on arrest or on
conviction. We anticipate those numbers dropping rapidly given the amount of
recidivism. Do you build up for the capacity expected at day one or do you build
up for an anticipated capacity after three or four years and make some kind of
arrangement with the private sector to take the overload? These questions are
difficult financial issues that, fortunately, being in criminal law policy, I
only have to think about because they are not my problem.
Mr. MacKillop: Thanks for your sympathies. If we look at any
public-private partnership, we have to look at the legal issues, so you would be
dragged into this issue.
We have not conducted any studies on the issues. You are correct in saying
that the government accepted all the recommendations in principle. The statement
in the budget asked us to examine alternate service delivery models. It is not a
foregone conclusion that we will move to any alternate service delivery. My
knowledge is the situation in the U.K. where many of their labs went private.
The initial rationale might have been financial. My understanding is that the
experiment in the U.K. has not been as successful recently as it seemed to be
initially when they went that route. We will have to include the experience of
other countries in our examination of any alternate service delivery model.
The Chair: Do you know if the U.K. can upload to CODIS?
Mr. Yost: I am not sure whether the U.K. operates on the CODIS model
of the FBI. We use it but I am not sure what Europe and the U.K. use.
Senator Joyal: On a point of information, perhaps Mr. MacKillop will
look into the testimony before the committee by Anthony Tessarolo from the
Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, on the issue of
public and private forensic delivery.
The Chair: If the witnesses have not seen the evidence, we will be
glad to provide it to them. We will be delighted to receive any comments.
Senator Carignan: That is a question I have asked other people
previously, but they are supposed to send us the information. Do you have any
study findings on savings resulting from the impact of DNA in investigations and
We were given the example of an investigation in Toronto into the death of a
young girl. The investigation revealed that once traces of DNA were found, the
number of investigators dropped from 100 to six. That is an incredible savings.
In the justice system, DNA evidence affects the number of guilty pleas.
We are told that in practice, DNA evidence is a major factor in guilty pleas,
so I wanted to know whether you had any studies that put a figure to the savings
in the system.
Mr. MacKillop: Our department has never done any studies of this sort.
We have heard of anecdotal evidence, but no studies have been done of the cost
savings of using DNA as opposed to another investigation method.
Mr. Yost: I have to say that the Department of Justice has not done
any research on this issue. There are two sides to every coin, as the saying
goes. Often, in what is called a cold case, nothing has happened in 10 years,
then a DNA match is made and the whole investigation is re-opened.
What is clear is that the ability to identify someone with certainty using
DNA has had a major impact on all sorts of trials. I understand that some
studies have been done in the United States on this impact. I will see if I can
find them. In the system as a whole, there are some costs that are higher and
others that are lower.
The Chair: Yesterday, we received a document: Effectiveness and
Cost Efficiency of DNA Evidence in Volume Crime — Denver, Colorado Site Summary.
I imagine that if Senator Joyal has it, you have it. The document was
Senator Carignan: Given the quantity of documents in your office, I am
sure we are not sharing the same ones.
The Chair: He is able to lay his hands on every document; that is what
is so miraculous.
Gentlemen, thank you very much indeed. As usual, this session has been
extremely instructive and helpful.
(The committee continued in camera.)