­Bill C-21: Standing Up for Victims of White Collar Crime Act

May 31, 2021
Ottawa Journal (May 31 – June 04, 2021)
David Tilson, M.P. (Dufferin-Caledon)

On May 03, 2010, our Government re-introduced Bill C-21: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sentencing for fraud), also known as the Standing up for Victims of White Collar Crime Act, as a response to victims’ voices of these horrendous crimes.

Fraud includes two main elements which are deception or dishonest conduct and deprivation of person’s property or putting property at risk. It can include insider trading, real estate and mortgage fraud, securities fraud, embezzlement, and even pyramid schemes. The result of such activities can have a devastating impact on victims and their families. Victims can lose large amounts of money, including life savings, and can often feel humiliated because they have been forced into handing over their property. 

Our Government has recognized the humiliation and loss suffered by these victims and has proposed to amend the fraud provisions of the Criminal Code to impose tougher sentences on those who commit these dishonest and contemptible acts. The proposed amendments would include: tougher sentencing, consideration of aggravating factors, responsiveness to restitution, and introduction of community impact statements. The new legislation would also require two years of jail time for all fraud cases over $1 million. 

The aggravating factors that judges would be allowed to consider include: the financial and psychological impact of fraud on the victim, given the victim’s particular circumstances including their age, health and financial situation; the offender concealing or destroying records relating to the fraud or the disbursement of proceeds of the fraud; the offender failing to comply with applicable licensing rules or professional standards; and the magnitude, complexity and duration of the fraud. Included with the sentencing, the court would be allowed to issue an order that prevents the offender from gaining employment or volunteer services in any area of work that involves the money of other individuals.

The legislation would also allow judges to better help the victims through restitution and Community Impact Statements. In the past, Victim Impact Statements have been considered by a judge; however, where there has been a group of people targeted for fraud, direct victims and even others not financially affected may still suffer other impacts. Bill C-21 proposes to include a provision that would describe the losses suffered as a result of the fraud committed against a particular community, such as a neighbourhood, an association, or a seniors’ group. Therefore, a Victim Impact Statement would explain the damages a victim has suffered, while a Community Impact Statement would explain the damages a group has suffered.

Our Government has listened and responded to calls from individuals and communities to tackle fraud. Bill C-21 takes decisive action against this type of crime. We are helping Canadians to ensure their voices are heard by those who commit these disgraceful crimes and that these victims are also given sufficient restitution.