Legislation can be a delicate subject, as any lawyer from Donich Law or anywhere else can attest to, especially when dealing with additional factors like mental illness. For that reason, the SCC took a closer look at Ontario’s sex offender registry laws, to see if they were in need of changing.
The SCC, on a late November 2020 ruling, made an official ruling that Ontario’s sex offender registry law is a violation of Section 15 of Charter of Canada’s laws, deeming that it’s discriminatory to people who were found not criminally responsible (NCR) for the misdeeds they were tried for.
The ruling was a 7/2 decision on the case, Ontario (Attorney General) v. G, with the SCC upholding a ruling from the Ontario Court of Appeal saying that the rights of the respondent for the case, a man found not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder (NCRMD) for the crime of sexually assaulting his wife back in 2001, had his rights as per Charter Section 15; the right to be treated equally and without discrimination, violated, as the court deemed that people convicted of sexual assault crimes were not made available to those who were ruled as NCRMD.
Justice Andromache Karakatsanis wrote out the verdict, which was a majority decision, saying that, regardless of the opinion held by a lot of people, individuals deemed NCRMD aren’t necessarily more dangerous or any less capable of recovery and rehabilitation than others.
Ontario argued that its legislation treated everyone equally, but the SCC ruled that this was not the case, saying that the impact of the law is just as important to watch, for lawyers like those in Donich Law and the public, as what the legislation explicitly said or made distinctions for.
Ontario’s laws dictate that anyone found NCRMD of a sexual offence has to get their personal information listed on the province’s sex offender registry. Registrants are then required to make annual reports to the province, and receive individualized assessment to see if they can be removed from the list, or at least relieved of the requirement of having to report annually.
However, no one deemed NCRMD of these types of crimes can be removed or exempted from the registry or its requirements, even if they have already been vetoed and issued an absolute discharge by a certified review board.