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Report of the committee

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

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

THIRTY-FIFTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-93, An Act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Tuesday, June 11, 2019, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment but with certain observations, which are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

SERGE JOYAL

Chair

Observations

to the thirty-fifth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (Bill C-93)

Observation 1

The committee notes, as the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness acknowledged in his testimony, the need for broader reform to the criminal record system to ensure that no one is barred from accessing criminal records relief to which they are entitled simply because they lack legal or financial resources.

The committee also notes with concern the current barriers to obtaining a criminal record suspension, in particular relating to the cost and the complexity of the application process. The committee notes the negative impact such barriers have for successful community integration and public safety.

The committee calls on the government to accelerate reforms to the Criminal Records Act. In particular, it calls on the government to examine how best to improve co-ordination of the management of records across Canadian jurisdictions and to implement the necessary technological advances to allow for a more automated approach to criminal records relief that would not require an application process or fee.

Observation 2

The committee invites provinces that do not have laws proscribing discrimination on the basis of suspended criminal records to consider legislative amendments in that regard.

Observation 3

To help vulnerable and marginalized populations make use of the proposed measures contained in Bill C-93, the committee recommends that the government ensures that the bill’s implementation plan includes the development of awareness and information tools designed specifically for these groups, as well as measures to assist them in applying for a criminal record suspension. When developing these tools and measures, the committee recommends that the government collaborate with community organizations and considers factors such as theses groups’ limited access to social networks and traditional means of communication.