Victim Notification before the Ontario Review Board

When the recent amendments to the mental disorder provisions of the Criminal Code came into force early this year, the Ontario Review Board (the Board) signalled to lawyers practising before it that where an absolute or conditional discharge was recommended (by the hospital), it only intended to notify victims for offences occuring after the date of the amendments. It was seen too cumbersome to try determine who the victims were for offences occurring well in the past.

This seems to have changed. Hearings are being adjourned across the Province to allow the Board to try to allow for the notification of victims. It is hard to believe that the victim notification provisions have a place in the mental disorder provisions of the Criminal Code (or that they are constitutional) given that the accused has been found not to have had the requisite mental state for the offence.

These provisions came as no surprise so it is a little shocking that the Board seems to be scrambling to figure out what to do. The Board would be well advised to establish and circulate publicly a policy regarding its approach to victim notification especially what triggers the requirement that the victim be notified. See for example the policy of the British Columbia Review Board.