Call to Action # 34

We call upon the governments of Canada, the provinces, and territories to undertake reforms to the criminal justice system to better address the needs of offenders with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), including:

  1. Providing increased community resources and powers for courts to ensure that FASD is properly diagnosed, and that appropriate community supports are in place for those with FASD.
  2. Enacting statutory exemptions from mandatory minimum sentences of imprisonment for offenders affected by FASD.
  3. Providing community, correctional, and parole resources to maximize the ability of people with FASD to live in the community.
  4. Adopting appropriate evaluation mechanisms to measure the effectiveness of such programs and ensure community safety

Why “Not Started”?

The federal government has failed three times at passing legislation that would have had a positive impact on FASD victims:

  • Bill C-235 – An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) endorsed by the Canadian Bar Association was defeated at second reading in the House of Commons on December 13, 2016
  • Bill C-375 “An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act – (pre-sentence report) introduced on Oct. 19, 2017 died on the order paper when the 2019 election was called. Bill C-375 would have required mental health information such as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, to be included in pre-sentence reports.
  • Bill C-22 “An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act” introduced in Feb. 2021 died when the federal election was called

Government’s updated response (Sept. 5, 2019) removes all reference to FASD and broadens response to encompass all mental health issues. Despite quite detailed and specific recommendations from the Canada FASD Network (FASD and the Criminal Justice System) the Federal, Provincial and Territory governments have not enacted any legislative and/or regulatory actions to address the issues. There has been some progress:

  • Manitoba has established a court specifically for people with FASD.
  • Saskatchewan has implemented the Navigator-Advocates: Integrated Supports for Justice-Involved Indigenous Youth and Adults with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
  • Bill C-75 – “An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts” received Royal assent on June 21, 2019. The Act would require that particular consideration be given to the unique circumstances of members of vulnerable populations when imposing bail conditions.

Current Status

Not Started

Call to Action
last updated

March 17, 2021

Latest Updates

Actions and Commitments

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Govt. Commitments to FASD Programs

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Correctional Investigator 2015 Annual Report

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TRC C2A 34 – A Framework for Action

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Federal Legislation

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Background Content

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CBA Response

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FASD and the Criminal Justice System

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