Ontario Introducing Legislation to Support Victims of Crime and Enhance Community Safety
Province proposing changes to Victims’ Bill of Rights, Cannabis Control Act and Coroners Act
November 30, 2023
Today, the Ontario government will introduce proposed legislation, that, if passed, would make it easier for more victims of crime to sue an offender for emotional distress. The proposed Enhancing Access to Justice Act, 2023 would also protect children and youth from cannabis, enhance community safety and make court and government operations more efficient.
“We’re putting victims of crime first, protecting children and keeping our communities safe,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “Through proposed changes to the Victims’ Bill of Rights and the Cannabis Control Act, our government is increasing access to justice for victims of crime, holding offenders accountable, and protecting children and youth.”
The proposed legislation, if passed, together with supporting regulatory changes, will:
- Update the Victims’ Bill of Rights, 1995 to make it easier for victims of crime (such as victims of terrorism, vehicle theft, human trafficking related crime and hate related crimes targeting places of worship) to sue an offender for emotional distress and related bodily harm.
- Protect children and youth by banning the growth of recreational cannabis in homes that offer childcare services.
- Amend the Coroners Act to allow for faster and more meaningful and relevant recommendations for construction-related death investigations.
“We’re taking steps to bring justice and closure to family members of construction workers who have lost their lives on the job,” said Solicitor General Michael Kerzner. “We’re also updating the Fire Protection and Prevention Act to give fire departments the tools they need to protect communities by strengthening compliance with Ontario’s rigorous fire regulations.”
If passed, the Enhancing Access to Justice Act, 2023, would also update the Courts of Justice Act and other statutes, including by limiting delays in a child protection trial when a judge is appointed to another court, to ensure that court operations are more readily accessible to Ontarians.
- In 2022, there were 1,721 incidents of police-reported hate crimes which is almost a 20 per cent increase from the previous year.
- In 2023, the Ontario government invested $25.5 million over two years to help address the rise of hate incidents against religious and minority groups. The new Anti-Hate Security and Prevention Grant will help faith-based and cultural organizations enhance or implement measures to ensure community spaces remain safe and secure.
- From 2014 to 2021, there was a 72 per cent increase in auto theft across the province, and a 14 per cent increase in the last year alone.
- Ontario has invested $18 million over three years to help police services combat and prevent auto theft and keep communities safe.
- Human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing crimes worldwide. Ontario is a hub for human trafficking, with the most police-reported incidents in the country in 2019.
- Ontario’s five-year Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy, introduced in 2020, focuses on raising awareness, protecting victims, intervening early, supporting survivors and holding offenders accountable.
- Through the Victim Support Grant for 2023-24, Ontario is providing more than $4 million across the province to help support victims and survivors of intimate partner violence, domestic violence, human trafficking and child exploitation.
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