Report of the committee

Thursday, December 16, 2021

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has the honour to table its

SECOND REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized to examine the subject matter of clauses 1 to 5 contained in Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Thursday, December 2, 2021, examined the said subject-matter and now issues an interim report as follows:

The committee is mindful of the harmful impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has persisted since March 2020.

While the committee appreciates the importance of protecting health professionals and access to health services, committee members raised several questions about the need to introduce the new offences proposed by Bill C-3, given that the Criminal Code already contains the offences of intimidation (section 423) and mischief (section 430). These offences are available for police to use in response to situations where people are being intimidated, obstructed, or impeded from accessing or providing health services. In response to these questions, the Minister of Justice justified the introduction of these new offences by the numerous requests he had received from various stakeholders in the health community for some time, following incidents that occurred in recent months. He also responded that he had not consulted directly with his provincial counterparts. The committee has previously raised concerns about how the Code has been amended on a piecemeal basis for many years and has become cumbersome and very complex as a result.

The committee reiterates the recommendation it made in its 2017 report, Delaying Justice is Denying Justice – An Urgent Need to Address Lengthy Court Delays in Canada:

The committee recommends that the Government of Canada establish an independent body of experts with a mandate to undertake a comprehensive and impartial review of the Criminal Code and provide recommendations for the modernization and reform of this law

The committee also notes that it looks forward to receiving and reviewing a summary of the Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) performed for Bill C-3 as promised by the Minister of Justice. The committee recommends that when introducing government bills, the Minister should concurrently table a summary of the GBA+ in both houses of Parliament, rather than waiting for this committee to request it.

Finally, the committee stresses that, based on the communicated need for urgent consideration of this bill, it was only able to undertake a limited pre-study and looks forward to receiving the bill for clause-by-clause consideration.

Respectfully submitted,

MOBINA S. B. JAFFER

Chair


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