Ontario Takes Action on High-Risk and Repeat Violent Offenders
SCARBOROUGH — The Ontario government is investing $112 million to immediately strengthen the province’s bail system and ensure that high-risk and repeat violent offenders comply with their bail conditions. The funding will be used to support new technology, establish violent crime bail teams, expand the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Repeat Offender Parole Enforcement Squad and provide prosecutors with the resources they need to conduct complex bail hearings.
“As the country and our province face rising crime rates and people are feeling increasingly unsafe in their communities, this funding will help ensure anyone out on bail is following the rules and high-risk, repeat offenders are kept in jail,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We can’t have a justice system where violent criminals are arrested one day and back out on the streets the next. We’re doing our part to fix a broken bail system and look forward to working with our federal partners to finish the job.”
Specifics of the investment include:
The creation of a new Bail Compliance and Warrant Apprehension Grant
$24 million will be made available over three years to help the OPP and municipal and First Nations police services establish dedicated bail compliance teams. Teams will also assist prosecutors with gathering evidence and assessing public safety risk during the bail hearing stage.
Grant funding may also be used to acquire bail compliance technology or support a network that police services could use to share bail offender information.
Expansion of the OPP Repeat Offender Parole Enforcement (ROPE) Squad
$48 million to create a dedicated Bail Compliance Unit within the OPP’s Repeat Offender Parole Enforcement Squad. This new dedicated, provincewide, Bail Compliance Unit will apprehend high-risk provincial offenders who have broken their bail conditions or are unlawfully at large.
Establishment of Intensive Serious Violent Crime Bail Teams
$26 million to create Intensive Serious Violent Crime Bail Teams within the courts system to ensure that there are dedicated prosecutors and subject matter experts to prepare for and properly conduct the often lengthy and complex bail hearings.
Rollout of the Bail Compliance Dashboard
A new provincewide bail monitoring system to allow police services to monitor high-risk offenders with the most accurate data possible.
“When it comes to keeping people safe and addressing crime in our communities, we’ll stop at nothing,” said Solicitor General Michael Kerzner. “This funding will help police and justice sector partners address issues of bail compliance by expanding the resources needed to monitor and apprehend high-risk repeat offenders violating bail conditions. It will also help to ensure that both sentencing and bail processes work to reduce violent acts and keep our communities safe.”
Today’s announcement follows months of advocacy from all of Canada’s premiers for the federal government to amend the Criminal Code and implement meaningful bail reform to prevent violent and repeat offenders from being released back into communities. The federal government has signalled its willingness to work with all provinces and territories to identify and implement meaningful solutions. Ontario will continue to be a partner in this work and looks forward to these changes being made.
“As part of our ongoing efforts with the federal government to reform the broken bail system, we are adding new resources to support our work to make Ontario’s bail process stronger,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “These investments will immediately help to address serious, violent and repeat offenders by providing more resources to police to investigate and apprehend these accused persons and to prosecutors and courts to conduct complex, time consuming bail hearings with the best evidence possible.”
On March 10, 2023, federal, provincial and territorial Attorneys General and Ministers of Justice and Ministers of Public Safety met to discuss Canada’s bail system. The federal government agreed to take action through amendments to the Criminal Code that would target repeat violent offenders and serious offences committed with firearms and other dangerous weapons.
Ontario experienced a 57 per cent increase in serious violence and weapons cases before the courts between 2018 and 2021. (Ontario Court of Justice)
Toronto Police Service report that over the last two years in the city of Toronto, 17 per cent of accused charged with shooting-related homicides were already out on firearms bail at the time of the alleged fatal shooting.