Parliamentary Committee Notes: Bail vs. Conditional Release

Date: March 8, 2023
Classification: Unclassified
Fully releasable (ATIP)? Yes
Branch / Agency: CPB, Public Safety


To differentiate community release on bail from federal conditional release.

Proposed Response:


Bail Release

Canada’s bail system is a court process which governs the determination of whether an individual charged with a criminal offence will be released from custody prior to trial, whether such release requires conditions, or whether the individual will remain in detention awaiting trial. During a bail hearing, the Crown must establish why an accused should remain in custody prior to trial. This requires the Crown to satisfy the court, on a balance of probabilities, that at least one of the grounds for denying bail exists in the circumstances, such as to ensure the accused appears in court, for public safety, or to maintain confidence in the administration of justice (e.g. consideration of the gravity of a particular offence). When the court orders that an accused person be detained prior to trial, they are typically remanded to a provincial or territorial correctional facility. If the accused is released on bail based on the information presented at the bail hearing, the court may require that the accused abide by certain conditions while awaiting trial. Failure to comply with these conditions may result in new criminal charges. It should be noted that the presumption of innocence and access to bail are areas specifically addressed under Section 11 of the Charter.

The administration of bail hearings is largely the responsibility of the provincial or territorial court system, and monitoring and enforcing of bail releases is chiefly the responsibility of law enforcement. However, Canada’s bail system is governed by the relevant provisions of the Criminal Code and is therefore under the legislative jurisdiction of the federal government. In particular, the Criminal Code is the responsibility of the Department of Justice and the Minister of Justice.

Conditional Release

An adult who has been criminally convicted, and sentenced to two years or more, typically serves their sentence in a penitentiary under federal jurisdiction. However, a part of this sentence is usually served on conditional release. Under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA), there are different types of conditional releases, including Day Parole, Full Parole and Statutory Release.

The Parole Board of Canada (PBC) has exclusive authority to grant both Day Parole and Full Parole, pursuant to the CCRA. The PBC bases parole decisions on various information sources, including assessments prepared by the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC). Before granting release, PBC members must be satisfied that the offender will not pose undue risk to the community and that they will fulfill specific conditions. Offenders serving determinate sentences become eligible for Day parole after serving the longer period of either six months, or six months prior to becoming eligible for Full Parole; and for Full Parole after having served one third of their sentence. There are much lengthier periods of ineligibility for offenders serving indeterminate and life sentences. Pursuant to the CCRA, all federal offenders serving determinate sentences are entitled to Statutory Release from a federal penitentiary after serving two-thirds of their sentence, unless they are likely to commit a serious offence before the end of their sentence. Statutory release is mandated by subsection 127(1) of the CCRA, and not by a decision made at the discretion of the PBC. However, like parole, the PBC may impose specific conditions on these releases. Offenders serving life or indeterminate sentences are not eligible for Statutory Release.

The purpose of all forms of conditional release is to contribute to the protection of society by facilitating the reintegration of the offender into society as a law-abiding citizen. It aims to accomplish this by providing offenders with intervention, assistance, programs and necessary controls required to minimize the risk of their committing new offences. Supervision provides an opportunity to ensure support and monitoring of the offender’s reintegration, thereby minimizing the risk of recidivism. All offenders on conditional release must report a federal parole office. Should an offender breach their release conditions, or should it be deemed necessary for the protection of society, an offender’s release can by suspended and they may ultimately be returned to a federal institution.


Prepared by: Darren Bell, Correctional Policy Unit, CPB (343) 572-3164
Approved by: Talal Dakalbab, SADM, CPB, (613) 852-1167

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