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e-4460 (Justice)

Initiated by Laurel Sim from Calgary, Alberta

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • Sexual violence against children has increased 118% between 2010 and 2017 according to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics;
  • Statistics show that the Sexual Offender Information Registry Act (SOIRA) has rarely been used by police agencies for its stated purpose – protecting society through the effective prevention and investigation of crimes of a sexual nature;
  • On September 16, 2021, the horrific and preventable murders of Mchale Erica Busch (age 24) and her baby son, Noah Lee McConnell (age 16 months), in their apartment building in Hinton, Alberta, were perpetrated by Robert Keith Major, age 53, who was a known, previously convicted sex offender with multiple criminal convictions; and
  • Mchale Busch and her fiancé, Cody McConnell, had no knowledge that the offender was living in the apartment adjacent to theirs, as they had only moved in 10 days prior and had no connection to the accused. The complex was a family-friendly building where many children resided and was close to two playgrounds and a school.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Require mandatory reporting by convicted sexual offenders to the nearest police station upon any change of residence;
2. Clarify that failure to report as required is an offence for which an arrest warrant shall be issued; and
3. Create a specially designated offender classification for persons convicted of sexual assault offences against children where a sentence of more than two years is imposed or for offenders convicted of two or more violent sexual offences or offences involving abduction of women and/or children.

Response by the Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): JENNIFER O’CONNELL, M.P.

The Sex Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA) establishes reporting obligations for a registered sex offender in relation to a change of residence.

On October 26, 2023, Bill S-12 came into force, ensuring the National Sex Offender Registry can continue to be an effective tool to prevent and investigate crimes of a sexual nature.

Under section 4.1(1)(a) of the SOIRA, an offender subject to a SOIRA order is obligated to report to a registration centre any change in their main residence or secondary residence within seven days. If an offender fails to report in accordance with section 4.1(1)(a) of the SOIRA, they can be charged under section 490.031(1) of the Criminal Code for failure to comply with their SOIRA order. This is a hybrid offence, meaning it can be prosecuted by summary conviction (a less serious offence), or by indictment (a more serious offence). The maximum penalty for this offence is a maximum fine of $10,000.00 or a term of imprisonment of 2 years less a day imprisonment if prosecuted by summary conviction, or a maximum fine of $10,000.00 or a term of 2 years if prosecuted by indictment.

While failure to report continues to be an offence under the Criminal Code, Bill S-12 also introduced a new warrant provision that permits a peace officer to arrest a person who is non-compliant with their obligations under sections 4 to 5.1 of the Sex Offender Information Registration Act in order to bring them to a registration centre and provide them with the opportunity to comply. If the offender still fails to comply they could then be charged under section 490.031(1) of the Criminal Code for failure to comply, as noted above.

Response by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Parliamentary Secretary James Maloney

Sexual offences, particularly against children, are amongst the most egregious crimes. Protecting persons in Canada from sexual offenders is a top priority for the Government.

Bill S-12, An Act to amend the Criminal Code,the Sex Offender Information Registration Act and the International Transfer of Offenders Act, came into force on October 26, 2023. It responds directly to a Supreme Court of Canada decision and strengthens the National Sex Offender Registry.

This legislation aims to ensure that everyone in Canada – survivors of sexual assault and their families in particular – can feel safe and have confidence in our criminal justice system, knowing that tools are in place for police to prevent and investigate sexual crimes.

Under these recent reforms:

  • anyone convicted of a sexual offence against a child, when prosecuted by indictment and sentenced to two years or more in prison, as well as any repeat sexual offender, will be automatically required to register on the National Sex Offender Registry;
  • all other sexual offenders will also be required to register, unless they can demonstrate to a judge that they pose no risk to the community; and,
  • judges will be able to impose lifetime registration for sexual offenders who are found guilty of more than one offence at the same time, if the pattern of offending demonstrates a risk of reoffending.

The legislation also aims to strengthen the National Sex Offender Registry as a law enforcement tool in many other ways, including by adding five new designated offences for which an individual can be added to the Registry, including the non-consensual distribution of intimate images, so called “sextortion”, and aggravated sexual assault of a person under 16.

In addition, the legislation created a compliance warrant scheme authorizing police to seek a warrant to arrest an offender who is non-compliant with their Sex Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA) obligation and bring them to a registration center to facilitate compliance. If an offender complies, a charge for non-compliance is precluded.

The legislation now also contains a summons provision to permit courts to compel an offender to return to court for a consideration of their SOIRA obligation in situations where this issue was not considered at sentencing. Further, under the legislation, registered offenders are required to provide law enforcement with at least 14 days’ notice and a specific address of destination when travelling, when possible.

Finally, the legislation empowers survivors and victims of crime by giving them greater voice and agency in the criminal justice process, namely through amended publication ban provisions and enhanced access to information.

The Government will do everything in its power to protect persons in Canada, especially the most vulnerable, and to help give a voice to the victims.

Open for signature
May 26, 2023, at 2:43 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
September 23, 2023, at 2:43 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Blaine Calkins (Red Deer—Lacombe)
October 24, 2023 (Petition No. 441-01799)
Government response tabled
December 7, 2023
Photo - Blaine Calkins
Red Deer—Lacombe
Conservative Caucus