Chief Statistician of Canada
100 Tunney’s Pasture Driveway
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0T6
Building RHC 26A
December 8, 2020
Dear Mr. Arora,
The Canadian Criminal Justice Association (CCJA/the Association) is one of the longest serving non-governmental organizations of professionals and lay-persons interested in criminal justice issues in Canada. The Association began its work in 1919 and has testified before various Parliamentary committees on numerous occasions. Our Association consists of approximately 400 members from across the country and we publish the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and the Justice Report.
The CCJA supports Statistics Canada’s important work in monitoring and reporting trends in the criminal justice system and in Canadian society, generally. This includes Statistics Canada’s regular reporting on police, court, correctional, and demographic trends in Canada. Despite this valuable work, we are writing to you about opportunities to enhance the scope and quality of Canada’s official statistics on criminal justice.
We believe that data, measurement, and reporting efforts can always be enhanced. Furthermore, responding to gaps in data and measurement provides important insights from policy, research, operational, and equity perspectives. As an example of responding to data gaps, the CCJA welcomes and supports the July 15, 2020, joint statement by Statistics Canada and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police concerning your intention to work together to
“… enable police to report statistics on Indigenous and ethno-cultural groups in police reported crime statistics on victims and accused persons.”
Of course, this is just one example of the important work that needs to be done in addressing systemic racism by reviewing available data and comparing it with outcomes and experiences of members of racialized and indigenous communities. The Government’s commitment to addressing systemic racism as noted in its recent Speech from the Throne on October 23, 2020, is particularly noteworthy here:
“The Government will redouble its efforts by: … [among other things] … Building a whole-of-federal-government approach around better collection of disaggregated data; … “
From the CCJA’s perspective, efforts to identify, collect, and publicly report disaggregated race-based crime statistics are urgently needed. The point of collecting and reporting such data is not to stigmatize or blame anyone, but instead to fill the gap in existing evidence in order to better identify issues and propose informed solutions to address the root causes of the problem.
While not perfect, some U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation data provides this breakdown, and if we look to Europe, national statistics in England and Wales are able to report racial disparities in police arrest data. As you are no doubt aware, your Minister’s powers under sections 26 to 29 of the Statistics Act enable the Minister to require the transmission of information from courts, corrections, and even with respect to the federal exercise of the prerogative of mercy. These powers should, in our view, be employed to help fill the current gap in the availability of disaggregated data. We support and advocate for these efforts as a critical component of evidence-based decision making, open government, and monitoring of the criminal justice system.
As Statistics Canada and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police begin discussions with partners and stakeholders on these vital data collection efforts, the CCJA is eager to participate in stakeholder meetings, provide scholarly input and suggestions for other organizations who may also offer valuable contributions.
We look forward to working with you and your colleagues to advance rigorous, regular, and public reporting of data on Indigenous and ethno-cultural groups and individuals caught up in the criminal justice system. We are confident that we can bring value to these efforts as you work with all stakeholders to enhance the quality of data and address gaps in criminal justice data in Canada.
Canadian Criminal Justice Association
The Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
The Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Chief Bryan Larkin, President of the CACP
Ms. Rebecca Kong & Deputy Chief Stuart Betts — Chairs of the Police Information and Statistics (POLIS) Committee