Senator to revive bill to help jurors access mental health support

OTTAWA — Sen. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu says he will reintroduce a bill today that would allow jury members to seek mental health support from a professional after traumatic experiences during a criminal trial.

Bill S-206 would amend a section of the Criminal Code that currently makes it illegal for jurors to discuss jury deliberations forever, which critics say prevents them from seeking mental and emotional support.

Both Boisvenu and Sen. Lucie Moncion, a supporter of the bill, say this change would help jurors seek support post-trial, as health-care professionals are currently reluctant to help for fear of contravening the expectation of jury secrecy.

Former juror Mark Farrant, founder of the Canadian Juries Commission, says while this amendment to the Criminal Code has been a “victim of circumstance,” now is the right opportunity for it to be passed.

This is the fourth time that the bill has been introduced in Parliament, with its first introduction in 2018 by Conservative MP Michael Cooper as a private member’s bill, which died on the order paper when the federal election was called in 2019.

Boisvenu reintroduced the bill in the Senate in 2019, where it died when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prorogued Parliament in August 2020.

It was revived for a third time by Boisvenu, but had not been fully discussed in the chamber before summer break, and Parliament was then dissolved when Trudeau called an election in August.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press

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Categorized as Health

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