Langley, BC — Last night, Langley MP Mark Warawa received royal assent for his Private Member’s Bill, C-489 called “The Safe at Home Bill.” The bill was passed at all stages in the House of Commons and Senate, and with royal assent the bill is now law and will come into effect in three months.
“It is a great honour to receive royal assent for The Safe at Home Bill,” said the Langley MP. “It is a rare occasion for Members of Parliament to sponsor a Private Members Bill and have it passed into law.”
“This bill could not have been passed without the strong support that I received from almost all Members of Parliament, Senators, witnesses at committee, and parliamentary staff,” continued Warawa. “On behalf of myself, victims and their families in my riding, and the thousands of young victims of sexual assault in Canada, thank you for acting to strengthen the tools to protect the safety and security of victims and their families so that they will be safe at home. I especially want to thank Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais for his hard work of sponsoring the bill in the Senate, as well as Senators on the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for their consideration of the bill.”
The Safe at Home Bill came about as a result of a victim and their family in Langley, BC. “The victim and their family lived with unimaginable turmoil when the sex offender was permitted to serve the sentence right across the street,” said Warawa. “Victims have been forgotten and their safety and wellbeing has not being considered in the sentencing of offenders. The Safe at Home Bill will ensure that victims and their families are being heard and that they can feel safe in their own homes and communities.”
The circumstances in Langley are not isolated events. According to a Statistics Canada’s recent report on police-reported crime there were nearly 4,000 cases of sexual assault against children in Canada in 2012. Furthermore, Statistics Canada also found that 88% of sexual assaults against children and youth are committed by someone known to the victim prior to the offence. That is why C-489 will protect young victims of sexual assault by requiring the courts to consider geographic and communications restriction on the offender.
This legislation amends the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act so that child sexual offenders will be prohibited from being within two kilometres of a victim’s dwelling, or an appropriate distance specified by the court. The bill also requires that the courts consider that criminal offenders subject to parole or a conditional sentence be under strict conditions not to contact their victims, unless the victim consents or there are exceptional circumstances.
The bill adds similar non-contact conditions to the current list of conditions under section 810.1 of the Criminal Code (Peace Bonds). Under this section, the courts may impose recognizance with conditions on any individual that is reasonable feared to commit a sexual offence against a child under the age of 16.
The Safe at Home Bill also amends section 133 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act by requiring the Parole Board of Canada and Correctional Services of Canada to impose reasonable and necessary conditions on offenders, including non-communication or geographic restrictions, if a victim or other person has provided a statement regarding the harm done to them, the continuing impact of the offence, and safety concerns or comments on the possible release of the offender.
The Safe at Home Bill will come into effect in three months in order to provide the courts and releasing authorities with sufficient time to prepare to implement the bill.