In 2019, the Government of Canada updated federal legislation that makes it easier to get bail. Now, repeat and prolific offenders can cause more harm in Alberta's communities.

We are calling on the Government of Canada to amend bail legislation and undo the damage caused by bail and sentencing laws that are soft on crime. Bail legislation should place the protection of the law-abiding public at the centre of all bail decisions.

Canada’s bail system is set out by the federal Criminal Code, which can only be amended by the federal government.

Get involved

Write to your federal Member of Parliament and voice your support to amend the Canadian bail system.

Look up your MP

How the bail system works 

  • When a person is arrested, they are entitled to a bail hearing within 24 hours of their arrest, regardless of what they have been charged with.
  • The bail hearing determines if they can be released from custody until their trial date.
  • In cases where an accused is detained and held in custody, the judiciary determine if bail is granted and any conditions the accused must adhere to while out on bail.

The bail system is designed to ensure:

  • an accused person charged with a criminal offence will answer to the charge in court
  • an accused person who has been released pending trial won't pose a risk to public safety
  • confidence in the administration of justice will be maintained whether or not an accused person is detained before their trial

Changes to federal bail laws

In 2019, the federal government updated laws that require peace officers and judicial officers to default to releasing people on bail at the earliest opportunity with the least onerous conditions. This is referred to as the 'principle of restraint.'

Peace officers and judicial officers must also consider the circumstances of an accused person who is Aboriginal or a member of a vulnerable population who is overrepresented in the justice system and may be at a disadvantage for getting bail.

Learn more about the changes

How these changes impact Alberta

Federal changes have made it easier to get bail, which means prolific and repeat offenders may cause more harm in Alberta’s communities.

1.4 million+
Criminal Code offences in Alberta from 2018-21
Adults accused of serious and/or violent crimes granted bail*
Accused adults remanded while under bail in 2021-22**

* Between September 2018 and October 2022, approximately 62% of those appearing in the Hearing Office accused of a serious and/or violent crime were granted bail.

** 27.9% of accused adults under bail supervision were admitted to remand custody at least once due to violating bail conditions and/or incurring new charges between 2021 and 2022.

Case studies

The following anecdotal case studies are based on information provided by police agencies in Alberta. Personal information has been removed.

Offender A 

  • Multiple charges including break and enter and vehicle theft  
  • Multiple failed curfew checks 
  • Released on bail 4 times in 5 months

Offender B

  • Multiple charges including break and enter, theft and assault causing bodily harm
  • Listed as a suspect or subject or complaint on 15 files
  • Released on bail 4 times in 5 months

Offender C

  • Multiple charges including unauthorized possession of a firearm, discharging a firearm with intent and aggravated assault
  • Suspect on a criminal case involving violence towards another person
  • Released on bail 4 times in 6 months

What we're doing

On January 13, 2023, premiers from all 13 provinces and territories sent a letter to the Prime Minister urging him to fix Canada’s bail system.

Alberta’s government is taking action to enhance public safety.

Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Services and the Sheriff Highway Patrol were assigned additional duties as part of the Rural Alberta Provincial Integrated Defence (RAPID) response in 2021 to fight rural crime. Officers can now respond to a wider range of calls. This helps reduce the time it takes for officers to get to an emergency.

Opened 5 new drug treatment courts in Lethbridge, Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray. This expansion prevents crime by supporting Rural Albertans in accessing judicially supervised addiction treatment and recovery.

Increased the budget for Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) to combat organized crime and illegal guns and gangs.

Hired 50 new crown prosecutors between 2019 and 2022 to support building a fairer, faster and more responsive justice system.

Get involved

Write to your federal Member of Parliament and voice your support to amend the Canadian bail system.

Look up your MP