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Shoplifting and other petty-crime cases are being dropped by courts
Shoplifting and other petty-crime cases are being dropped by courts

Across Canada, people accused of petty crimes like shoplifting, minor assault and fraud are walking free — because the justice system doesn't have time to deal with their cases, as it struggles to move more serious crimes through the courts.

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Publication date : 2019-05-30
Labour union blasts CAQ government during Bill 21 hearings
Labour union blasts CAQ government during Bill 21 hearings

The CSN, which represents 300,000 workers, backtracked on its traditional position in favour of a ban on symbols for persons in authority.

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Publication date : 2019-05-15
Federal unions approve agreement on Phoenix damages

Late last week, a subcommittee of federal public service unions and employer representatives reached a tentative agreement to provide damages to public service workers in light of the ongoing Phoenix payroll debacle. This tentative agreement was two years in the making. Today, the undersigned unions are pleased to announce they have signed on to this deal.

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Publication date : 2019-05-08
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


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Federal lawyers’ union says low pay contributing to ‘crisis’ in hiring, retention, court delays

26-04-2018

Ursula Hendel, president of the Association of Justice Counsel

 

The union leader representing 2,600 federal government lawyers says Ottawa’s persistent failure to pay competitive compensation is contributing to lacklustre lawyer recruitment, and severe staff shortages in major cities across the country — as well as to court delays and criminal charges being stayed for violating the Supreme Court’s speedy trial deadlines.

 

Ursula Hendel, president of the Association of Justice Counsel (AJC), spoke with The Lawyer’s Daily shortly before she testified before the Commons Human Resources Committee April 25 in support of amending the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act to restore binding arbitration for federal unions — a dispute resolution mechanism that had been removed by the predecessor Conservative government. The AJC’s three-year collective agreement expired in May 2014, and the union is awaiting the outcome of consensual binding conciliation after spending nearly three years of fruitless negotiations with successive governments.

 

The federal Treasury Board is arguing for a 1.25 per cent cost-of-living increase in each of years one, two and four of a four-year contract with its lawyers, with 2.25 per cent increase in year three.


However, the AJC is seeking significant catchup “market adjustments” to propel the pay of federal lawyers, as compared to their provincial counterparts (now in sixth or seventh place as compared to their provincial counterparts, according to the union), back up to second or third place, behind Ontario Crowns. Federal Crowns’ pay also significantly lags that of provincial prosecutors in Alberta, B.C. and Quebec. (For example, the main federal working-level prosecutors (LP2) maximum pay of $137,866 per year is lower by 31 per cent than the $199,149 annual pay rate for comparable Ontario prosecutors (CC-3), the AJC says.)


Consequently federal lawyers in many major centres are departing in droves, leaving behind overworked and stressed colleagues to carry an even larger load, Hendel said.


She noted that in the past two years the B.C. regional office of the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) has shrunk from approximately 200 to 140 lawyers who handle immigration, tax, civil litigation and other non-criminal matters. Even junior lawyers are leaving because they can’t afford to live in Vancouver and pay off their student loans.


“We call it the graveyard,” Hendel said. “If you talk to management [in B.C.] … we agree that we’re in a crisis, and management is desperate to try to solve it.”


She said efforts by DOJ management in Vancouver to staunch the outgoing tide of lawyers include offering leaves of absence to those who depart for provincial prosecutions or the private sector “in the blind hope that they’ll hate their new job and they’ll come back to the DOJ.” However, “no one expects it to be an effective strategy,” she added.


The fallout from short-staffing — which Hendel maintains is caused by poor pay and frozen hiring budgets — has prompted stern admonitions from the bench. For example, when he threw out heroin-importation charges last January, Justice Paul O’Marra sitting in Brampton, Ont., said he was “joining the chorus of … judicial condemnation about the period of time it has taken the federal Prosecution Service of Canada to complete the disclosure process to permit the parties to proceed and/or move the matter along in non-complex importing cases.” Earlier this month the Toronto Star also revealed that since the Jordan case set timelines in July 2016 for the s. 11(b) Charter right to a speedy trial, 21 narcotics prosecutions have been stayed by judges or federal prosecutors for undue delay in Brampton — one of the country’s busiest criminal courts.


“We’re under stress in almost all jurisdictions, but it’s acute in the major centres, [such as] Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton,” Hendel said. “If we can remedy pay, if we can improve our [lawyer] complement, the workload issue might attenuate naturally.”
 

Hendel, a prosecutor with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC), noted that as a result of the Jordan imperative, provincial governments are hiring additional prosecutors (including 32 in Ontario, 52 in Quebec and 50 in Alberta). A significant number of those prosecutors will be poached from the ranks of federal prosecutors, she said.


She suggested to keep pace, the PPSC should be creating 22 additional positions for federal prosecutors: six in Ontario; six in Quebec; and 10 in Alberta.


Treasury Board spokesperson Isabelle Tessier told The Lawyer’s Daily “the Government of Canada is committed to reaching agreements that are fair and reasonable for employees and for Canadians.” Tessier said average public service salaries are set to keep up with the market in order to maintain the government's ability to recruit and retain qualified employees. “Wage increases are determined based on several factors, such as labour market and economic trends, as well as affordability based on the state of the Canadian economy,” she explained. “Salaries for represented employees are established through good faith negotiations with unions. As we are awaiting a decision from the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board on this matter, it would not be appropriate to comment on our position at this time.”

 

https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/6396/federal-lawyers-union-says-low-pay-contributing-to-crisis-in-hiring-retention-court-delays-and-stayed-prosecutions