March 5, 2018
Canada’s criminal justice system is facing a litany of serious challenges including significant under-reporting of crime by victims, delays and inefficiencies, rising costs, and considerable over-representation of Indigenous people in prison. Professor Benjamin Perrin is the co-author of the second annual report card on the state of the criminal justice system in Canada released by the Macdonald Laurier Institute for Public Policy.
“Nationally, there are some positive trends, including declining crime rates, fewer police officers required per capita, and rising criminal legal aid expenditures per crime,” said Perrin who is also the Munk Senior Fellow in Criminal Justice at MLI. “However, it is concerning to see worsening rates of police solving non-violent crimes, rising costs, and significant overrepresentation of Indigenous people in prison.”
The MLI’s second report card on the criminal justice system uses Statistics Canada data and quantitative statistical methods to assess each province and territory's criminal justice system based on five major objectives: public safety, support for victims, costs and resources, fairness and access to justice, and efficiency.
Some of the highlights of the report co-authored by Professor Perrin and Professor Richard Audas of Memorial University are:
- Ontario was the most-improved jurisdiction – its ranking improved dramatically to 4th place (from 7th place), with an overall grade increase to a B (from a C+), due to relative improvements in public safety, and fairness and access to justice
- Quebec’s ranking declined to 6th place (from 4th place), owing to a relative decline in fairness and access to justice in the province
- British Columbia’s ranking declined to 10th place (from 8th place), due to a relative decline in public safety, and fairness and access to justice in the province\
- Manitoba was the worst performing province and the Yukon was the worst performing territory
- The territories have shockingly high rates of crime per capita – far exceeding that in any of the provinces (there is 10 times more violent crime per capita in Nunavut than in Prince Edward Island)
- Disproportionately high levels of Indigenous incarceration relative to the population are a problem in every jurisdiction in Canada, but are particularly acute in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba
“We hope that this report card on the criminal justice system will spur much needed reforms to enhance public safety, support victims, improve fairness and access to justice, and make gains in efficiency and costs,” said Professor Perrin.