Senate Committee members viewing the Wall of Hope inside the Mental Health Court in Dartmouth.

Delays in Canada's Criminal Justice System

The Senate Committee's visit was part of a larger study to examine and report on matters pertaining to delays in Canada’s criminal justice system and to review the roles of the Government of Canada in addressing such delays.

This was a unique opportunity to showcase the innovative and collaborative approach taken in the Mental Health Court. It also gave the team a chance to highlight the community partnerships behind other diversion and treatment programs in the province that help improve access to justice and better connect offenders, victims and their families with the services they need.  

What They Learned

The Senators’ day started in Halifax where they sat in on a sharing circle, a common exercise used in restorative justice programs. The event was organized by Jennifer Llewellyn, a professor at the Schulich School of Law, who also spoke alongside Chief Judge Williams on a panel later in the day.

In Dartmouth, the Senators had the chance to see inside the courtroom where the Mental Health Court is held once a week, including the Wall of Hope showcasing artwork by some of the program’s participants. Afterward, the Chief Judge and members of the Public Prosecution Service, Nova Scotia Legal Aid, the Department of Justice and the Nova Scotia Health Authority spoke about their roles on the Mental Health Court team and answered questions.

The visit wrapped up with a public hearing in Halifax, the 17th hearing for this study, where Chief Judge Williams and Jennifer Llewellyn spoke about their experiences in the system and took questions.

Audio recording of Chief Judge Pamela Williams' testimony >>

“It was just an amazing experience. The same with the sharing circle – I think we will go away with some very positive ways of working and try to share what you both are doing across the country.”

Senator Mobina Jaffer, Deputy Chair
Standing Committee on Legal & Constitutional Affairs