Territorial Court

Community Wellness Court

Contents

The Yukon Community Wellness Court

The Yukon Community Wellness Court (CWC) is an innovative therapeutic court designed to contribute to the building of safer Yukon communities through crime reduction. It does this by working with offenders in the criminal justice system on the root causes of their criminal behaviour. The court officially opened in April 2007 and it accepted its first referral in June 2007.

The court targets individuals with addictions, mental health problems, and/or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Participants work with a coordinated team of professionals and community supports to develop and follow a holistic wellness plan.

The Community Wellness Court is a response to the high percentage of cases before Yukon criminal courts with offenders that have significant wellness-related issues and problems. The court recognizes that these problems, including addictions, historical trauma, and poverty, are deeply embedded in the fabric of many Yukon families and communities. Holistic and culturally relevant approaches to working with offenders on the underlying issues that lead to their criminal behaviour are required in order for positive changes to occur in Yukon recidivism rates.

The CWC is a collaborative project that involves a partnership among the following:

  1. Yukon Territorial Court
  2. Yukon Department of Justice
  3. Public Prosecution Service of Canada
  4. Yukon Legal Services Society
  5. Council of Yukon First Nations
  6. RCMP
  7. Yukon Department of Health and Social Services

The Community Wellness Court receives funding from the Government of Yukon.

The Community Wellness Court is being evaluated and the evaluation will fully document the program’s activities, development, and outcomes.

FAQ

Participation in the CWC is open to all adults (age 18 and over) with outstanding Criminal Code or Controlled Drugs and Substances Act charge(s). One or more of the following must be viewed as a contributing factor to the criminal conduct:

  • An addiction to alcohol and/or drugs. (Normally, the offence(s) will have been committed either while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or with the intention of obtaining funds to purchase drugs or alcohol);
  • A mental health problem; and/or
  • An intellectual disability, including but not limited to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). In the case of FASD, a formal diagnosis is not required provided there is sufficient basis to suspect that the offender is suffering from FASD.

Participants must demonstrate significant motivation to start working on serious problem areas in their life, such as addictions, and be willing to work closely with a team of professionals and community supports.

Where the charge(s) are drug-related, the offence must be addiction rather than profit motivated, and therefore, the quantity of drugs involved will usually be small.

An individual cannot participate in the CWC in the following circumstances:

  • Offences resulting in death (i.e. murder, manslaughter, etc.);
  • In general, crimes that involve violence against children and/or senior citizens;
    Offences committed near a schoolyard, playground, or other area where children are likely to be present, where there is evidence that the offender is in the area to commit an offence targeting or otherwise involving children;
  • In general, crimes of a sexual nature;
  • In general, serious crimes of violence;
  • Offence(s) for which the Crown is considering making a Dangerous Offender application or Long Term Offender application or where an accused has been designated as a High Risk Offender in the National Flagging System;
    Offence(s) committed primarily for a commercial or profit motive (i.e. commercial grow operations);
  • Where the offender has outstanding immigration issues which may result or have already resulted in a deportation order;
  • Where the offender is known to be affiliated with a criminal organization; or
  • Where the offender has other serious criminal charges outstanding.

Note: offences related to domestic violence will be dealt with in the Domestic Violence Treatment Option Court.

The CWC is a voluntary program. To participate, individuals must:

  1. Meet all legal eligibility criteria;
  2. Enter a guilty plea, waive the right to immediate sentencing, and agree to abide by the terms of the program;
  3. Follow detailed bail conditions setting out restrictions on activities and required conduct, including drug testing;
  4. Work with a Primary Case Manager and other treatment staff to complete a suitability assessment and develop a wellness plan;
  5. Follow an intensive treatment and support program (wellness journey);
  6. Appear in Yukon Territorial Court on an as-required basis to assess progress.

The participation and progress of an individual in the CWC will be reflected in their sentencing. Participants who do not fully comply with their program may be subject to sanctions.

Treatment and support in the CWC follows a holistic model. Participants in the CWC will be assisted to access a wide range of treatment and supports.

  • Assistance with meeting basic needs (food, clothing and shelter)
  • In-depth assessments for addictions, mental health, and FASD
  • Addictions counselling
  • Mental health stabilization and support, including psychiatric assessment
  • Medical services
  • Transportation support (getting to appointments)
  • Referral and support to access community programs and services such as education programs, employment assistance programs, counselling, leisure and recreation activities.

Some services and supports will be provided directly by the CWC wellness team. Other services and supports will be provided through referral to community agencies or services provided by other territorial government departments and/or First Nations.

If there are no major setbacks, the CWC program generally lasts 12 – 18 months.
Upon successful completion of his/her Wellness Plan, a participant shall proceed to a sentencing hearing.  The CWC Judge will impose a sentence that, while applying the sentencing principles set out in sections 718, 718.01, 718.1 and 718.2 of the Criminal Code, particularly recognizes the positive rehabilitative steps taken by the participant. 

Community Wellness Court
c/o Court Services
Main Floor, Law Courts Building
2134 2nd Avenue
Whitehorse, YT
Y1A 5H6
(867) 393-6229