Terms of Reference
The Fresh Start Coalition (Coalition) brings together 85+ organizations and supporters to advocate for transformative reform of Canada’s criminal records regime.
The Coalition recognizes that people with criminal records are the best experts on their own experiences. Yet people with lived and living experience of the criminal justice system are often excluded from the process of crafting solutions that are responsive to their needs. Too often, the structural barriers highlighted by the Coalition’s work also serve to exclude people with criminal records from opportunities to advocate and influence policy.
As such, the Coalition is committed to ensuring our work foregrounds the voices and insights of people who have been involved in the criminal justice system. The Community Expertise Committee (CEC) is intended to provide a meaningful avenue for people with lived and living experience to guide and support the Coalition’s work.
The CEC serves as an advisory body that provides the Coalition with expert advice on the criminal records regime in Canada and its impact on individuals, families, and communities. The CEC has four key objectives:
- Ensure that the Coalition’s advocacy efforts reflect the concerns and priorities of people with criminal records.
- Highlight the voices and stories of people with lived and living experience in the Coalition’s messaging and media outreach.
- Provide CEC members with opportunities for networking, leadership, and skills development, helping to sharpen their skills as advocates for change.
- Create an intentional structure for the Coalition to support the participation of people with lived and living experience, through both practical support and financial compensation.
The CEC will advise the Coalition in the following ways:
- Reviewing and providing feedback on policy, advocacy materials, and public-facing content such as web copy or op-eds.
- Participating in outreach and advocacy activities, e.g. attending meetings with government representatives.
- Engaging with partner organizations or stakeholder groups.
- Ensuring community priorities are reflected in all aspects of the Coalition’s advocacy and messaging.
The CEC will meet roughly once per month until the summer of 2022, and then reassess to determine whether any changes are necessary. Each meeting may require an hour of preparatory work, such as reviewing documents and preparing comments, plus an hour of meeting time.
The Coalition is committed to providing support to ensure accessibility and meaningful participation from each CEC member. While this may look different for each individual, Coalition members are available to discuss facilitating technology for connecting to virtual meetings, adaptive measures (such as auto-captions at meetings), and/or multiple formats for CEC members to provide feedback (e.g. in writing or orally).
The CEC will include five to ten members. Key criteria for membership include:
- Past involvement with the criminal justice system and personal experience of the impact of having a criminal record.
- Commitment to attending monthly meetings and doing preparatory work (e.g. reviewing materials) in advance.
- Willingness to work collaboratively and respectfully within a diverse group of individuals.
The composition of the CEC is expected to reflect the diversity of people across Canada who have lived and living experience of justice system involvement. To the extent possible, CEC membership will reflect diversity in terms of geography, gender, race and ethnicity, Indigeneity, language, age, immigration status, and disability. Notwithstanding this goal, the Coalition recognizes that individual CEC members are entitled to choose whether and how they wish to share details about their identity or background.
The CEC will identify one member to serve as chairperson. The chairperson will lead CEC meetings and serve as a liaison with the Fresh Start Coalition’s Steering Committee.
Members of the CEC may participate in meetings of the Steering Committee, which meets on a weekly basis (typically on Friday mornings at 10:00 AM). Serving on the Steering Committee represents a significant investment of time and effort, and as such, is not required.
The Coalition recognizes the need to compensate CEC members for their time, energy, and expertise. To help facilitate equitable and inclusive participation, CEC members will receive an honorarium of $100 for each meeting they contribute to, representing a time commitment of two hours. The chairperson will receive $120 per meeting, to reflect the additional time and effort involved in leading meetings and liaising with the Steering Committee. Members who are unable to attend a live meeting may choose to contribute by providing input through other means (e.g. written feedback on topics of discussion).
Compensation is not intended for members who participate in Coalition activities as part of their paid employment.
While the Coalition takes seriously the need to compensate individuals for their time and expertise, there is a finite amount of funding available for this purpose. As such, this compensation policy will be reviewed in the summer of 2022. Any changes will be clearly communicated to CEC members at least one month in advance of taking effect.
Media and Confidentiality
The Coalition works to engage national and local media, with the goal of fostering public awareness of the human toll of Canada’s criminal records system. In support of this goal, members of the CEC may have the opportunity to be connected with reporters interested in sharing the stories of people with lived and living experience. The decision to speak with journalists, anonymously or otherwise, is a personal choice for each individual to make. CEC members are never required or expected to share their stories publicly. No compensation will be provided for time spent speaking to the media.
Like all Coalition members, CEC members commit to respecting the confidentiality of (a) stories and opinions shared by individuals, and (b) internal Coalition materials and deliberations that have not been distributed or shared publicly. The names of CEC members will not be published anywhere. While Coalition members may sometimes share non-identifying anecdotes that reflect individuals’ experiences with the criminal records system, this will only occur with the individual’s express permission.