Canadian Youth Justice Legislation - A Chronology

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1908 Juvenile Delinquents Act (JDA)
The JDA created a separate youth justice system based on a child welfare approach that included informal procedures and significant judicial discretion.
1984 Young Offenders Act (YOA)
Replacing the JDA, the YOA provided a criminal justice approach with more emphasis on youth responsibility and the special rights of youth.
1986 Amendments to the YOA
Technical amendments relating to custodial placements were made.
1992 Amendments to the YOA
The amendments increased the maximum length of sentences in youth court from three years to five years for murder and clarified rules for transferring youth to adult court.
1995 Amendments to the YOA
The amendments increased the maximum youth sentence for murder to ten years, made further changes regarding transfer to adult court, and allowed victim impact statements in youth court.
1996 Report of the Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) Task Force on Youth Justice
The FPT Task Force undertook a comprehensive review of the YOA that resulted in wide-ranging recommendations for legislative reform.
1997 Renewing Youth Justice: Report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs
The Committee's report included a number of recommendations for legislative reform.
1998 Strategy for the Renewal of Youth Justice
The Government response to calls for youth justice reform included the development of a new statute to replace the YOA.
2003 Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA)
First introduced in 1999, the YCJA came into force on April 1, 2003.
2008 YCJA Review
On the fifth anniversary of the coming into force of the YCJA, the Minister of Justice launched a review and held a series of cross-country roundtables, many of which were co-chaired by provincial and territorial ministers, in order to hear about possible improvements to the Act.
2008 Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. D.B.
The Supreme Court of Canada found the "presumptive offence" provisions of the YCJA unconstitutional insofar as they placed a reverse onus on young persons. The Court held that it is a principle of fundamental justice that young persons are entitled to a presumption of diminished moral blameworthiness or culpability.
2010 Bill C-4
Bill C-4, which proposed amendments to the YCJA, was introduced in Parliament in March 2010, but died when a federal election was called a year later.
2011 Bill C-10
Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act, included amendments to the YCJA that were previously proposed in Bill C-4. It was introduced in September 2011 and received Royal Assent in March 2012.
2012 YCJA amendments in force
The amendments to the YCJA in Bill C-10 came into force on October 23, 2012. For information regarding the 2012 amendments, please see the fact sheet: Recent Changes to Canada's Youth Justice System.
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