The review of the Safe Communities and Neighborhoods (SCAN) Act initiated earlier this year is “expected to be completed by 2027,” according to a Justice department spokesperson. Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee promised the review of the SCAN Act towards the end of 2021.
When contacted for further information on the review process timeline, the Justice department’s communications manager said they’d be unable to provide additional details before the News’ deadline. The reason for the delay is the department’s involvement in launching the Substance Use Health Emergency Strategy.
For the unaware, the SCAN Act allows for the short-notice eviction of individuals following complaints of illegal activity at rented residential units. Suspected illicit activities that could trigger an investigation include drug trafficking and illegal cannabis sales, bootlegging, prostitution, illicit firearms trafficking and child sexual exploitation.
The revelation that the SCAN Act review will take as long as four years to complete comes on the heels of the release of SCAN’s 2020 annual report. Released on Aug. 10 of this year, the report outlines how the act and its enforcement arm operate and shares some statistics on SCAN complaints in 2020.
When asked why the annual report for 2020 took more than two and a half years to make it into the public sphere, a Justice department spokesperson wrote in an email that “the pandemic changed the timeline of the SCAN report being produced, since the SCAN Unit played a pivotal role in compliance and enforcement.”
Among the report’s insights: complaints to the SCAN Unit increased in 2020, with drug trafficking the most common complaint. Whitehorse was the primary source of complaints that year.
In 2020, 105 complaints from the public were filed with the SCAN Unit, up from 90 in 2019 and 76 in 2018.
The report breaks down complaints by type and notes that 2020 saw 105 complaints about drug trafficking, five regarding illegal alcohol and cannabis sales and five about prostitution. A single complaint to the scan unit could include mention of one or more of the aforementioned activities.
Ninety-one of the complaints received by the SCAN Unit in 2020 came from Whitehorse, while 14 came from other Yukon communities.
According to the report, actions taken by the SCAN Unit in 2020 included six warnings, four evictions and one Community Safety Order. These numbers are down from 2019, when 31 warnings were issued, along with six evictions and one Community Safety Order.
A related Yukon government webpage notes that a Community Safety Order can “call for owners to meet a number of conditions” or force the closure of a property for “up to 90 days.”
Combined actions taken by the SCAN Unit and RCMP numbered 26 in 2020, up from 15 in 2019 and three in 2018. Combined actions involve both law enforcement agencies cooperating on parallel investigations into people or property.
However, SCAN’s 2020 annual report notes, “there is a clear separation between the SCAN Unit’s investigations that are conducted under territorial legislation and the RCMP’s criminal investigations.”
Finally, the report notes that 43.9 per cent of the SCAN Unit’s files from 2020 are connected to suspected organized crime. This is nearly a 13 per cent increase from 2019 and more than a 17 per cent increase from 2018.
SCAN’s yearly reports will be released every two years from now on, with the next document set to cover 2021 and 2022.
“The SCAN annual report will now be published on a biennial basis, with the upcoming 2021-2022 biennial report being produced soon. It will contain new and updated information as well as data regarding the operations of the SCAN Unit,” reads the email from the Justice department spokesperson.
When asked for insight into the SCAN Unit’s data for the previous two years, the spokesperson wrote, “Between 2018 and 2021, the SCAN Unit experienced a significant annual increase in complaints. In 2022, the number of complaints decreased.”
Contact Matthew Bossons at firstname.lastname@example.org