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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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Feds ordered to cover articling students’ law society membership fees


Since 2013, the Association of Justice Counsel has been battling to have the government cover the fees for all of its articling students after finding a patchwork of practices across the country.


In a decision this month, adjudicator George Filliter found in part in the union’s favour.


“In my view, this confirms the requirement of the employer to pay any and all fees necessary for the student to be enrolled as a law student or an articling student in their respective law society,” he wrote, citing the language in job postings that refer to the different articling provisions of the respective law society.


“This demonstrates that membership in a law society is a professional qualification ‘required by the employer for the performance of any duties and/or responsibilities assigned,’” wrote Filliter.


At issue was s. 28.01 of the association’s collective agreement that says the government will reimburse lawyers for their membership in a professional organization when it’s necessary to maintain a professional qualification required by the employer. The collective agreement also notes the term “lawyers” also includes articling students.


In 2013, the government denied the union’s grievance on the issue, arguing articling students don’t have to maintain a professional qualification as they’re in fact candidates rather than members of a law society.


While Filliter ruled in favour of the union on the issue of law society membership fees, he rejected the proposition that the government should also cover the costs of bar courses and examinations.


“In my view, clause 28.01 of the collective agreement cannot be interpreted to impose such an obligation on the employer,” he wrote. “Again, looking at the posting notices, students apply for these positions with the full knowledge that these fees are not going to be reimbursed by the employer and that they are therefore responsible for the payment to the professional association.”


“That’s by far the largest fee,” says Len MacKay, president of the union.


MacKay notes there has also been a patchwork of practices across the country on that issue as the government uses payment of the course and examination fees as a recruiting tool for individual candidates.


“It’s an individual, sort of applicant basis,” he says.


The union did win another partial victory on whether the government must cover articling students’ fees for their call to the bar.


“When students are not offered employment post-articles by the employer, the employer is not required to pay bar fees,” he wrote. “However, in those instances where a law student is offered a permanent position with the employer as counsel, I reach a different conclusion, as such call to the bar fees would be necessary for the employee to maintain his or her recently acquired professional qualification.”


MacKay welcomed that aspect of the decision.


“Outside of that, we’re also happy that they sided with us on the hire backs,” he says.


Besides the fee issues, Filliter’s ruling also included some noteworthy facts on the government’s cuts to its articling program. In statistics on the number of articling students across the country, Filliter showed it has made significant cutbacks since 2010.


At the Ontario regional office, for example, the number of positions in 2013 was nine, down from 18 in 2010. At the northern regional office, there were no positions in 2013 versus two in 2010. At the prairie regional office, the number of positions fell to six in 2013 versus 14 five years ago.


“That’s one of the programs that have suffered,” says MacKay, referring to the government’s general climate of budgetary and staff cutbacks in recent years as it made efforts to eliminate the deficit. While he notes articling is often an easy target for cuts, he says he has heard there’s an intention to return hiring to previous levels.


Filliter’s decision comes as law students in Ontario are celebrating another victory on the financial front. In a news release today, the Law Students’ Society of Ontario noted the Law Society of Upper Canada had relented on its plan to provide licensing materials in electronic format only, something the group said would mean an estimated $100 in required printing costs.


According to the law student group, the law society has now said it will provide hard copies to students who request them.


“This is great news for law students across Ontario, and the LSSO commends the law society for its reconsideration of this decision,” said Ryan Robski, president of the law students’ society.