Toronto, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada

Access to justice is a fundamental Canadian value and an integral part of a fair and just society. The Government of Canada is committed to providing fair and equal access to justice for Black and racialized Canadians while addressing systemic racism and discrimination in all its forms and in all phases of the criminal justice system.

Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced the Government of Canada’s investment of $6.64 million over five years beginning April 1, 2021, followed by $1.6 million annually on an ongoing basis for the implementation of Impact of Race and Culture Assessments (IRCAs) across Canada.

IRCAs are pre-sentencing reports that help sentencing judges to better understand the effect of poverty, marginalization, racism, and social exclusion on the offender and their life experience. IRCAs explain how the offender’s lived experiences of racism and discrimination inform the circumstances of the offender, the offence committed, and the offender’s experience with the justice system.

The funding will help support:

the development of a training curriculum for IRCA writers;
education of criminal defence lawyers, crown prosecutors and judges on IRCAs; and
drafting of IRCA reports for eligible racialized accused Canadians.

Funding is being provided to specialized organizations for IRCA assessor training and mentorship, and for awareness programs and continuing professional development for lawyers, judges and other justice system actors.

Additionally, funding will be available to all provincial and territorial legal aid programs in all jurisdictions for the preparation of IRCAs, with the goal of making this important tool a part of the criminal justice system across the country.