Bill C-14: The Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act

Recent high-profile cases across Canada have raised public concerns about safety around those with mental health issues. The Vince Li case on the Greyhound bus drew much media attention to the challenges that some mentally ill people face.

In early 2013, the Government of Canada introduced legislation to change certain provisions of the Criminal Code that govern persons deemed not criminally responsible (NCR) on account of a mental disorder. The result: Bill C-14 – The Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act, which took effect on July 11, 2014. As yet, it’s unclear if the new bill will make it harder or easier to safely treat and reintegrate individuals with a mental health problem who have been found NCR by the courts.

On July 18, 2014, over 60 service providers attended a virtual presentation on the new bill. Organized by the North Bay Regional Health Centre, with support from EENet, the session covered amendments and their implications. The key amendments include:

  • A new statutory definition for “significant threat to the safety of the public”;
  • A new framework for making Dispositions, including the replacement of “least onerous least restrictive” standard with a newly worded standard, “necessary and appropriate in the circumstances”, with public safety being emphasized as being the paramount consideration;
  • The creation of a new designation of “high risk accused” that can apply to certain not criminally responsible accused persons;
  • The requirement to consider victim protection clauses at every hearing of the Ontario Review Board.

As the amendments become fully implemented and case law emerges, there will be additional information sessions organized by CAMH, North Bay Regional Health Centre, and CMHA-Sudbury Manitoulin to assist regional stakeholders in their work with mental health clients.

Watch the webinar recording.