Most Canadians Unwilling to Provide High Marks to Justice System

Majorities of respondents say the courts are too soft on offenders and need to address bias against Indigenous Canadians.  

Vancouver, BC [June 11, 2021] – Many Canadians appear dissatisfied with the way the justice system works in the country, a new Research Co. poll has found.  

In the online survey of a representative national sample, three-in-four Canadians (76%) say the justice system needs more resources because it takes too long to get cases dealt with—a proportion that rises to 86% among Canadians aged 55 and over.  

Seven-in-ten Canadians (71%) believe the outcome of cases in Canada’s justice system depends heavily on how good your lawyer is, an opinion that reaches 76% in Ontario.  

Three-in-five Canadians (61%) think that the justice system is too soft on offenders when it comes to criminal cases. Canadians who voted for the Conservative Party in the 2019 federal election are more likely to feel this way (73%) than those who cast ballots for the New Democratic Party (NDP) (68%) or the Liberal Party (63%).  

A majority of Canadians (57%) state that the justice system has not done enough to address bias against Indigenous Canadians—a proportion that rises to 60% in Quebec.  

Across the country, 29% of Canadians give the justice system in the country a grade of 8 to 10. This positive rating is highest in British Columbia (35%), followed by Alberta (34%), Ontario (32%), Quebec (29%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (28%) and Atlantic Canada (24%).  

More than two-in-five Canadians (43%) provide a grade of 5 to 7 to the justice system, while one-in-five (21%) rate it from 1 to 4.  

Canadians were also asked about their last experience with four different components of the justice system. Just over one-in-four (26%) consider that the last resolution they received in criminal court was unfair to them.  

Slightly smaller proportions of Canadians believe their last resolution was unfair on family court (22%), traffic and bylaw disputes (20%) and small claims (19%).

“While Canadians are more likely to report that the justice system was fair to them the last time they went to court, some discrepancies persist,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “On family court, men are more likely to consider that the resolution was unfair to them (25%) than women (19%).”

Methodology: Results are based on an online study conducted from June 3 to June 5, 2021, among 1,000 Canadian adults. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.1 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.