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Senate adopts legislation to reform sentencing policies

Bill C-5 received Royal Assent on November 17.

Legislation that aims to improve the way we approach criminal sentencing in Canada – with a focus on rehabilitation and community well-being – has been adopted in the Senate.

Bill C-5 enacts the following reforms:

  • Repeals mandatory minimum penalties of imprisonment for certain offences, including all drug-related offences;
  • Allows for greater use of conditional sentence orders in cases where an offender faces a term of less than two years and does not pose a threat to public safety; and
  • Requires police and prosecutors to prioritize alternatives to criminal prosecution for drug possession, such as treatment programs.

Senator Marc Gold, the Government Representative in the Senate, said Bill C-5 is a meaningful step forward to improve Canada’s criminal justice system.

“Bill C-5 reserves harsh penalties for serious criminal behaviour while recognizing that in some cases, the interests of justice and public safety are better served by flexible and creative approaches to sentencing – or even by the absence of sentencing,” he said.

“Its central objective is to bring us closer to having a criminal sentencing regime in which penalties are consistently well suited to the offender and the offence, rather than being a blunt instrument that lands with disproportionate force and frequency on Indigenous people, Black people and members of other marginalized communities.”

  • Read Senator Gold’s full third reading speech here.

Senate adopts legislation to reform sentencing policies