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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 Identification Act.

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 recommendations.

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 streets.

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 territorial partners.

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 implementation.

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 data bank?

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 established.

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 approvals?

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 you understand.

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 development?

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 minister.

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 anything.

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 the math.

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 you?

Senator Boisvenu: Yes.

Senator Joyal: Read the budget wording to see what the words mean.

It says:

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 solved.

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 reoffend.

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 persons file.

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 Boisvenu's questions.

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 introduced?

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 authority there.

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 Senate floor.

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 country.

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 anything.

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 possibility.

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 interrupting here.

I think both of you gentlemen have backed off scientific questions, have you not?

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 every case.

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 index established?

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 document.

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 significantly greater.

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 advice.

Mr. MacKillop: This committee is free to offer anything it wishes to offer.

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 recommendation.

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 involved.

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 trials?

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 distributed.

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.)