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Government of Canada and public service unions announce compensation for federal employees impacted

Canada's public servants deserve to be paid properly for their important work and the Government of Canada continues to take action on all fronts to resolve Phoenix pay issues.

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Publication date : 2019-05-03
PSAC rejects compensation offer for Phoenix pay fiasco, other groups accept
PSAC rejects compensation offer for Phoenix pay fiasco, other groups accept

The federal government says it has reached a tentative deal with some groups on compensation for workers affected by problems with the Phoenix pay system. But the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents the majority of federal employees, has rejected the offer.

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Publication date : 2019-05-03
Applying the Jordan framework: Are courts placing too much of the burden on the defence?
Applying the Jordan framework: Are courts placing too much of the burden on the defence?

In R v. Jordan, the Supreme Court put a hard cap on the duration of criminal trials — sending a thrill of panic through the justice system in the process. The ruling is roughly two and a half years old now. Time for the training wheels to come off.Now, that backlog of pre-Jordan charges has been largely cleared — the transitional period is over. But Crown and defence lawyers alike report that trial times aren’t speeding up; statistics cited in a recent Law Times article show that in the Ontario Court of Justice, average times to disposition and the number of court appearances have not diminished since Jordan. If the SCC intended the ruling as a salutary shock to the system, it didn’t work.So what happens now?

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Publication date : 2018-12-18
RCMP’s forensic firearm testing backlog adding delays to justice system

The RCMP’s forensics labs are taking nearly four times longer to analyze firearms than they did just four years ago, adding delays to a criminal justice system under pressure to speed up after a recent Supreme Court decision.

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Publication date : 2018-12-16
Court delays persist, despite Jordan
Court delays persist, despite Jordan

The Supreme Court of Canada decision in Jordanand the problems it tried to address are still top of mind in the criminal courts in Ontario nearly two-and-a-half years after it was released.

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Publication date : 2018-12-03
The performance pay saga reaches a settlement
The performance pay saga reaches a settlement

The issue is the prorating of performance pay in relation to pre-promotion period for the year in which lawyers are promoted. If a lawyer was eligible for performance pay and was promoted during the year, the Employer, rather than pay out a prorated performance pay for the period pre-promotion, paid out nothing at all regardless of your performance rating for the year. The AJC originally filed a grievance in 2011 and in response to that grievance, TB had conceded in the context of the adjudication hearing that pre-promotion service should be recognized. Unfortunately, the adjudicator originally disregarded TB's concession in his decision of 2015, requiring the AJC to file an application for judicial review, which eventually resulted on December 22, 2016 in a remedy limited to the right to pre-promotion performance pay for the year 2010-2011. Thus, the AJC filed another policy grievance on July 27th 2016. The hearing was scheduled for October 2018. We are pleased to announce that we now have a signed Memorandum of Settlement on this matter with TB.  

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Publication date : 2018-10-30

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Alberta drops 15 criminal cases in resources crunch


A senior prosecutor in Alberta stayed 15 criminal cases on Tuesday, saying in Provincial Court that the justice system simply does not have enough resources to prosecute them. (GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO)


A senior prosecutor in Alberta stayed 15 criminal cases on Tuesday, saying in Provincial Court that the justice system simply does not have enough resources to prosecute them.


The cases include violent crimes such as assault with a weapon and assaulting a peace officer, and others, such as impaired driving, that Parliament has declared important enough to merit mandatory minimum penalties.


The suspension of the 15 cases in Edmonton appears to be the first large-scale use in criminal justice of a "triage" approach – a system of assigning priority to cases used in health care – since a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in July set time limits for proceedings.


Chief Crown attorney Shelley Bykewich told reporters outside court that she had been suffering sleepless nights over what she had to do.


The move was made under a provincial government "triage" strategy announced in October. The stays are noteworthy because they are the first known cases to be dropped at the Crown's instigation over resource issues, and because of the seriousness of the alleged offences. Most of the previous fallout from the Supreme Court ruling, known as R v Jordan, came after challenges by defence lawyers over unreasonable delay.


And the Edmonton stays seem to be a realization of fears some prosecutors have expressed since the Jordan ruling set limits of 18 months for cases to go from charge to a trial's completion in Provincial Court, and 30 months in Superior Court.


"This is one of the symptoms of a failing justice system, when charges – and we believe they are serious charges – are stayed for lack of resources," Rick Woodburn, president of the Canadian Association of Crown Counsel, who practises in Halifax, said in an interview.


By resources, he said he means judges, Crowns, sheriffs, administrators, defence lawyers and perhaps jails.


"Really, the only people who benefit from a weak justice system are the criminals."


He said he was not aware of any other instance of large-scale stays over resources so far since the Supreme Court ruling. He said if governments do not put more resources into the system, the numbers of stayed cases will grow.


He also predicted that, if prosecutors drop charges for lack of resources, police will think twice about prosecuting some offences.


"It will trickle down into the police, and whether they move forward with charges," he said.


The Edmonton Police Service said in a statement it is disappointed with the prosecution's decision.


"We feel for the victims in these cases and we worry about the reputation of the criminal justice system with the public."


It added that it remains committed to public safety, and suggested its charging practices would not change.


"Ultimately, all files are passed onto the Crown for prosecution. The EPS respects the Crown's decisions on how files are handled in court," the statement said.


The Alberta Crown Attorneys' Association will hold a news conference on Wednesday in Edmonton to talk about the 15 stays and others.


Provincial governments are scrambling to rethink the justice system in light of R v. Jordan. In a Nova Scotia pilot project, prosecutors are making prompt plea offers for low-level crimes, which could rise to mid-level offences, including violent ones. (Mr. Woodburn referred to that pilot project as a form of triage, because the justice system spends less time trying to set consequences for criminal activity deemed to have less priority.)


In Ontario and Manitoba, governments and judges want to eliminate the pretrial screening mechanism known as preliminary inquiries.


In the most glaring examples thus far of the effects of delay, judges have dismissed two charges of first-degree murder, one in Alberta and one in Ontario.


The Alberta government expressly describes its new approach as a form of triage – the process in which hospital staff determines which patients in an emergency room receive priority.


In October, Eric Tolppanen, an assistant deputy minister overseeing the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service, set out the strategy: "The new process uses a 'triage approach' where Crown and court resources are used proportionately with the seriousness of a case, and with the most serious and violent offences being prioritized."


In an interview two weeks ago with The Globe and Mail, Alberta Attorney-General Kathleen Ganley called the justice system "a fantastic thing, one of the greatest achievements of modern life."


But she added: "We can't use it for everything because we'll destroy it through overuse. It's about making thoughtful and meaningful choices and ensuring we are screening out the things that don't properly belong in that system."


However, she expressed concern on Tuesday about the stays in Edmonton.


"We never want a victim to see an accused walk free, not because of a trial but because of a technical procedural requirement," she told reporters, adding that the province is reviewing its resources, and is looking to hire four prosecutors in Wetaskiwin and up to eight in Edmonton.