In Committee from the Senate of Canada - Legal and Constitutional Affairs - February 27, 2014
Justice Minister Peter MacKay defends the federal government's bill (C-14) dealing with individuals found not criminally responsible or unfit to stand trial due to a mental disorder. The Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act specifies that public safety is the paramount consideration when decisions are made about a NCR accused person. It would also create a high-risk designation, as well as ensure that victims are more included in the judicial process. The bill had been introduced in the last Parliamentary session as C-54 but died on the Order Paper.
Senators then hear from Justice Richard D. Schneider, chair of the Ontario Review Board and Review Boards of Canada. C-14 could extend the period of custody between reviews. Justice Schneider stresses that public safety is always of paramount concern for review boards and argues that some of the proposed amendments have the potential to make it actually less safe for the public.
Dr. Alexander Simpson, chief of forensic psychiatry for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and Chris Summerville, CEO of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada, outline their concerns with the legislation. Among the concerns is the risk of driving people away from the NCR regime and into the penal system, where they will emerge with a higher chance of recidivism.
Dr. John Bradford with the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group also offers his perspective on the bill. (February 27, 2014)