Legislative Influences

Changes in legislation and the resulting change in the offence classification creates discontinuity in the historical record of particular criminal offences. Legislative changes to assault, sexual assault, theft, arson, mischief, prostitution and youth crime must be considered when making comparisons over time. Some of the more significant changes are as follows:

Sexual Assault: Bill C-127 (1983):

Bill C-127 abolished the offences of rape, attempted rape and indecent assault and introduced a three-tiered structure for sexual assault offences. C-127 also eased the circumstances under which police could lay charges in incidents of sexual and non-sexual assault.

Young Offenders Act (1984):

With the proclamation of the Young Offenders Act in April 1984, 12 years old became the minimum age for which charges could be laid under the Criminal Code. However, the maximum age continued to vary until April 1985, when the maximum age of 17 (up to the 18th birthday) was established in all provinces and territories. Youths, as defined in this publication, refer to those aged 12 to 17 (inclusive). This definition applies to the target group who fall under the delegation of the Young Offenders Act (YOA).

Traffic Offences: Bill C-18 (1985):

In December 1985, Bill C-18 made major legislative changes with respect to certain traffic offences. It imposed more stringent sentences for dangerous driving and drinking and driving. It also facilitated the enforcement of impaired driving laws by authorizing police to take blood and/or breath samples under certain circumstances. As a result, data previous to 1985 for traffic offences are not comparable and have not been presented.

Property value limits: Bill C-18 (1985) and Bill C-42 (1995):

In 1985, Bill C-18 altered the property value limits from under and over $200 to under and over $1,000. This applied to offences such as Theft, Possession of Stolen Goods, Mischief and Fraud. As of February 1995, Bill C-42 revised the property value limits to under and over $5,000.

Alternative measures: Bill C-41 (1996):

Bill C-41 came into force on September 3, 1996. One of its highlights was the introduction of "alternative measures" for adults, which provided ways of dealing with disputes and minor offences outside of formal court proceedings.

Firearms: Bill C-68 (1997):

Bill C-68, came into force on January 1, 1997, requiring all firearm owners to obtain a firearms license by January 1st, 2001. This license replaces the Firearms Acquisition Certificate (FAC) in use since 1977. As of October 1, 1998, firearms had to be registered by October 1st 2003 (within 5 years). Bill C-68 also provided for tougher penalties for using a firearm while committing a crime.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act: Bill C-8 (1997):

This legislation came into force on May 14, 1997. The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) repealed and replaced the Narcotic Control Act (NCA) and parts of the Food and Drug Act (FDA). With this change in legislation, offences related to the possession, trafficking and importation of certain controlled or restricted substances not identified in earlier statutes were now (since 1997) included in the 'other drugs' category. Comparisons with years prior to 1997 should be made with caution.

Dangerous Operation Evading Police: Bill C-202 (2000):

Bill C-202 came into effect on March 30th, 2000. This legislation modifies section 249 of the Criminal Code, thus creating new offences surrounding the dangerous operation of a motor vehicle when used for evading police.

Youth Criminal Justice Act: Bill C-7 (2003):

The extrajudicial measures encouraged by the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), proclaimed on April 1, 2003, included: taking no further action informal police warnings, referrals to community programs, formal police cautions, Crown cautions, and extrajudicial sanctions programs.

Street Racing: Bill C-19 (2006):

Bill C-19 came into force on December 14, 2006 and addressed the street-racing problem by making four amendments to the Criminal Code. "Street-racing" was defined and five new street-racing offences were added. For three of the new offences, it provided maximum penalties longer than those currently provided for Dangerous Operation or Criminal Negligence in the Operation of a Motor Vehicle, and it introduced mandatory driving prohibition orders for a minimum period of time, with the length of the prohibition increasing for repeat offences.

Unauthorized Recording of a Movie: Bill C-59 (2007):

Bill C-59, came into force on June 22, 2007, addressing the illegal recording of movies in theatres by creating two new offences in the Criminal Code: Recording for Personal Use of a Movie Shown in a Theatre and Recording for Commercial Purposes of a Movie Shown in a Theatre.

Tackling Violent Crime: Bill C-2 (2008)

As a result of Bill C-2, which came into force on February 28, 2008, the age of consent was raised from 14 to 16 for the following Criminal Code offences: Sexual Interference, Invitation to Sexual Touching, Sexual Exploitation, Bestiality and Exposure to Person Under 14. The UCR also created a new violation code for Sexual Exploitation of a Person with a Disability. Impaired Operation and Failure to Provide a Blood Sample were modified to now differentiate between alcohol and drugs (or a combination of the two)

Bill C-2 also created two additional firearm-related offences, Robbery to Steal a Firearm and Breaking and Entering to Steal a Firearm, both of which carry a maximum penalty of 25 years.

Act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime and protection of justice system participants) Bill C-14 (2009)

Bill C-14 officially came into effect on October 2, 2009. As a result, two new violation codes were created: Assault Against Peace Officer with a Weapon or Causing Bodily Harm, and Aggravated Assault Against a Peace Officer.

Codifying Identity Theft: Bill S4 (2010)

Bill S-4 came into effect on January 8, 2010. As a result, two new violation codes were created: Identity Theft and Identity Fraud.

Trafficking in Person's under the age of 18: Bill C-268 (2010)

Bill C-268 came into effect on June 29, 2010. As a result, section 279.011(1) was added to the Criminal Code. This section is incorporated into the existing UCR violation code for Trafficking in Persons.

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (suicide bombings): Bill S-215 (2010)

Bill S-215 became law on December 15, 2010. This bill amended the Criminal Code to clarify that suicide bombings fall within the definition of "terrorist activity" and as such, are included under UCR codes for the following: Participate in Terrorist Activity, Facilitate Terrorist Activity, and Instruct/Carry Out Terrorist Activity.

Tackling Auto Theft and Trafficking in Property Obtained by Crime: Bill S-9 (2011)

Bill S-9 officially came into effect on April 29, 2011. As a result, a new UCR violation code for Motor Vehicle Theft was created, replacing the former UCR violations of Motor Vehicle Theft Over $5,000 and Motor Vehicle Theft $5,000 and Under.

Possession of Stolen Goods was separated into two new categories; Possession of Stolen Goods Over $5,000 and Possession of Stolen Goods $5,000 and Under.

Three new UCR violation codes were also created: Altering/Destroying/Removing a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), Trafficking in Stolen Goods Over $5,000 and Trafficking in Stolen Goods $5,000 and Under.

Amendment to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act: Bill C-475 (2011)

Bill C-475 came into effect on June 26, 2011. As a result, section 7.1(1) was added to the Criminal Code. This section is included under the UCR violation code of Precursor/Equipment (Crystal Meth, Ecstasy).

The Safe Streets Act: Bill C-10 (2012)

Bill C-10 came into effect on August 9, 2012. As a result, two new sections were added to the Criminal Code; Section 172.2(1) and Section 171.1(1). Section 172.2(1) is mapped to the existing UCR code of Luring a Child Via Computer. Section 171.1(1) is mapped to the new UCR violation code of Making Sexually Explicit Material Available to Children.

Combating Terrorism Act: Bill S-7 (2013)

Bill S-7 came into effect on July 15th, 2013. This bill amends the Criminal Code to create the offences of: Leaving or Attempting to Leave Canada to Commit Certain Terrorism Offences, and brought changes to the offence of Harbouring / Concealing Terrorist. Seven new UCR violation codes were introduced mid-2013 in response to this legislation.

Mischief to war memorials: Bill C-217 (2014)

Under Criminal Code sections 430(4.11(a)), 430(4.11(b)) and 430 (4.2), Bill C-217 created a new criminal offence of Mischief Relating to War Memorials when it came into force on the 19th of June, 2014. At the same time, the UCR violation Mischief in Relation to Cultural Property was introduced to the survey.

Recruitment to Criminal Organizations: Bill C-394 (2014)

This bill came into force on September 6th, 2014 and made the recruitment of members by a criminal organization a criminal offence under section 467.111 of the Criminal Code.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act: Bill C-36 (2014)

Bill C-36 came into effect in December 2014. The new legislation targeted "The exploitation that is inherent in prostitution and the risks of violence posed to those who engage in it" (Criminal Code Chapter 25, preamble). New violations classified as Commodification of Sexual Activity are considered to be violent offences and include: The Purchasing of Sexual Services or Communicating for that Purpose, Receiving a Material Benefit Deriving from the Purchase of Sexual Services, Procuring of Persons for the Purpose of Prostitution, and Advertising Sexual Services Offered for Sale. In addition, a number of other offences related to prostitution continue to be considered non-violent offences and are classified under Other Criminal Code offences. These include Communicating to Provide Sexual Services for Consideration, and; Stopping or Impeding Traffic for the Purpose of Offering, Providing or Obtaining Sexual Services for Consideration.

At the same time, the UCR survey was amended to add additional offence codes for the following violent violations: Parent or Guardian Procuring Sexual Activity, and Householder Permitting Prohibited Sexual Activity. The following violations officially expired on December 05, 2014: Bawdy House, Living off the Avails of Prostitution of a Person Under 18, Procuring, Obtains/Communicates with a Person Under 18 for Purpose of Sex, and Other Prostitution.

Effective December 2014, Bill C-36 amended the definition of the offence "Common Bawdy House" in the Criminal Code to remove reference to prostitution. As a result of this amendment, the UCR violation of "Bawdy House" was terminated, and the new violation of "Common Bawdy House" was introduced under 'Other Violations'.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act: Bill C-13 (2015)

On March 9, 2015, Bill C-13 Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act came into effect. As a result, a new criminal offence of Non-Consensual Distribution of Intimate Images was added to the Criminal Code and the UCR survey. It also clarified the Criminal Code offence of Harassing / Indecent Communications can be committed by any means of telecommunication.

Tackling Contraband Tobacco Act: Bill C-10 (2015)

On April 10 2015, Bill C-10 Tackling Contraband Tobacco Act came into effect. As a result, this legislation created the Criminal Code offence of Trafficking in Contraband Tobacco which is counted under the UCR violation Offences Against the Administration of Law and Justice. Prior to April 2015, the offence was counted under the Excise Act. As such, comparisons of these two violations to previous years should be made with caution.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act: Bill C-26 (2015)

On July 17th, 2015, Bill C-26 increased the maximum penalties for 6 sexual offences against children, including Sexual Interference, Invitation to Sexual Touching, Sexual Exploitation, Making Sexually Explicit Material Available to a Child and Failure to Comply with Order / Breach of Probation (when relating to a sexual offence).

Anti-terrorism Act: Bill C-51 (2015)

Bill C-51 came into effect on July 18, 2015. As a result, a new UCR violation code for the offence of "Advocating or Promoting Commission of Terrorism Offences" was added to the survey.

An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying): Bill C-14 (2016)

On June 17, 2016, Bill C-14 came in effect. As a result, three new UCR violation codes were introduced in response to these amendments: Fail to Comply With Safeguards Forging /Destruction of Documents Related to Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID), and Failing to Comply with Regulations / Obligations regarding Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID).

An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related Amendments to other Acts: Bill C-37 (2017)

On May 18, 2017, Bill C-37 came into effect. As a result, the offence of possessing, producing, selling or importing anything knowing it will be used to produce or traffic in crystal meth or ecstasy was expanded to include all substances listed in Schedule I, II , III, IV or V of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Mischief): Bill C-305 (2017)

On December 12, 2017, the Canadian Government granted royal assent to Bill C-305. This bill amended Section 430 (4.1) of the Criminal Code to include "mischief in relation to property that is used by an identifiable group for educational purposes, administrative, social, cultural or sports activities or events or as residence for seniors." Previously this section of the Criminal Code only included "mischief to property primarily used for worship."

An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts: Bill C-45 (2018)

On June 21, 2018, the Canadian Government granted royal assent to Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts. The 'come into force' date for this legislation was October 17, 2018. In response to this new legislation, on October 17, 2018 the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey accepted 22 new violation codes and expired all existing cannabis-specific violations.

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts: Bill C-46 (2018)

On June 21, 2018, royal assent was granted to Bill C-46. The 'come into force' date for Part 1 of this legislation was June 21, 2018. Part 2 came into effect on December 18, 2018 (180 days after Part 1).

Part 1 (effective June 21, 2018)

Part 1 of Bill C-46 amended the provisions of the Criminal Code that dealt with offences and procedures relating to impaired driving. As a result, 7 new UCR violation codes were added to the survey.

Part 2 (effective December 18, 2018)

Part 2 of Bill C-46 repealed the provisions of the Criminal Code that dealt with offences and procedures relating to conveyances, including those provisions enacted by Part 1, and replaced them with provisions in a new part of the Criminal Code. In response to Part 2 of Bill C-46, all existing UCR traffic violation codes have been mapped to new Criminal Code sections or expired. In addition, the UCR survey will no longer be collecting provincial traffic offences.

Comparing UCR Data with Courts and Corrections Data

It is difficult to make comparisons between data reported by police and data from other sectors of the criminal justice system (i.e., courts and corrections). There is no single unit of count (i.e., incidents, offences, charges, cases or persons) which is defined consistently across the major sectors of the justice system. As well, charges actually laid can be different from the Most Serious Offence by which incidents are categorized. In addition, the number and type of charges laid by police may change at the pre-court stage or during the court process. Time lags between the various stages of the justice process also make comparisons difficult.

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