For the second time the Macdonald-Laurier Institute has issued its annual report card on the status of Canada’s criminal justice system. Using quantitative data from Statistics Canada and statistical analysis, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute has rated 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.
The report found that crime rates across Canada have dropped, fewer police have been required and some improvements have been made to the access of justice. On the other hand, their has been a decrease in the rate of crimes the police solve per reported crime, an increase in breaches of probation, and the cost of housing inmates has risen.
Of note, the justice system report card found the following:
- The territories have by far the highest incidents of violent offences per capita, followed by Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Newfoundland, while provinces with the lowest violent crimes rates are Ontario, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island.
- Public confidence in the justice system and courts is highest in Ontario and New Brunswick, and lowest in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Quebec.
- Public confidence in the police is highest in Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick, and Saskatchewan, and lowest in Quebec, British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island.
The graph below compares the change in the provinces grades from 2016 to 2017:
The following graph depicts the overall ranking and grades by province for 2017:
Manitoba’s Criminal Justice System Report Card 2018
As a criminal defence lawyer practicing law in Manitoba, the statistical analysis with respect Manitoba’s grading is of most interests me. Manitoba’s overall scored was the lowest of any province for the second year in a row.
Manitoba has a high rates of clearance for non-violent offences and low rates for accused people being unlawfully at large. The police are efficient on the basis on the number of arrest they make.
Manitoba has the highest property related crime rate of any province, along with having the the second highest crime rate for violent offences. In addition, Manitoba has one of the highest crime rates for breaches of probation and court orders.
The public perception of the police in Manitoba is one of the lowest in the country with poor ratings for being fair and being approachable. Confidence in the justice system is below the national average.
Manitoba spends considerably more money per capita on police and on housing inmates than anywhere else in the country. Ironically, Manitoba spends far less money than almost all other provinces on criminal legal aid expenditures.
The rate of incarcerated accused awaiting trial is by far the highest in the country and Manitoba has one of the highest rates of incarceration of Indigenous people.
Government of Manitoba’s Response
In response to the first report the Macdonald-Laurier Institute released on the status of Manitoba’s justice system for 2016, the Manitoba Minister of Justice Heather Stefanson said the province would undertake to fully review the current system. Following the release of this most recent report on the status of Manitoba’s justice system for 2017, Ms Stefanson said:
“Since 2016, our team in Manitoba Justice has worked tirelessly to evaluate the criminal justice system and identify opportunities to improve outcomes in the system and enhance overall public safety. That work continues, and we look forward to sharing our plans to modernize the criminal justice system with Manitobans very soon.”
Reports such as this are vital to understanding how our justice system is preforming and in what areas attention needs to be given to improve the system. In Manitoba, as well as across Canada, all participants in the criminal justice system have areas where improvements can be made.
As a criminal defence lawyer, I believe it is important to study not only the law, but our justice system. Understanding the justice system is the first step in being able to improve the justice system. I have worked tirelessly ensuring my clients have the best representation possible when appearing before the court in Manitoba. If you have been charged with a criminal offence, it is important to speak with a lawyer to ensure your rights have not been breached. Please feel free to contact me to discuss your legal matters.
The full report by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute can be downloaded at the following link: Report Card on the Criminal Justice System #2.