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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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Ford opposes handgun ban as he pledges funds to fight gun violence


Police officers walk along Danforth Avenue at the scene of a shooting that left a teenager and a 10-year-old girl dead in Toronto on July 23, 2018. Ontario Premier Doug Ford argues a handgun ban would penalize legal owners of such firearms. COLE BURSTON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES


Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he opposes a handgun ban in Toronto because it would penalize legal gun owners, but vowed to help tackle gun violence in the city by pledging $25-million over four years for police and the courts.


Toronto has witnessed a number of high-profile gun crimes this year, including a shooting that left a teenager and a 10-year-old girl dead on the Danforth strip last month and a shooting in a playground that sent two young girls to hospital in June.


Following the Danforth shooting, Toronto City Council voted to ask the federal government to ban the sale of handguns in the city and sought a similar ban on the sale of ammunition from the province.


“I wouldn’t support a ban on handguns. There’s lots of legal, responsible handgun owners,” Mr. Ford said on Thursday.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair have said they are considering Toronto council’s request for a handgun ban. Council also asked for millions from Ottawa and the province to fund new community programs and hire more police officers.


Ruling out new funding for community programs aimed at curbing violence, Mr. Ford said the province would send $18-million to Toronto police to buy new digital and investigative tools, while allocating $7.6-million to staff seven of Toronto’s courthouses with a legal team dedicated to denying bail to people accused of gun crimes.


Toronto Mayor John Tory and police Chief Mark Saunders warned in an Aug. 3 letter to Mr. Trudeau that bail is too easily accessible for repeat gun offenders.


“It’s time to get serious about fighting guns and gangs. It’s time to get serious about fighting gun violence – no more talk, no more grandstanding,” Mr. Ford told reporters on Thursday at Queen’s Park. “Tell the bad guys out there, ‘Heads up, we’re coming to get you.’”


However, critics, including the New Democratic Party Official Opposition, say his plan doesn’t address the root causes of violence and could violate the rights of the accused.


Mr. Ford said certain city councillors, “activists,” “so-called experts” and “special interests” had used shootings to demand spending on what the Premier called “layers of bureaucracy” and “handouts,” instead of on policing.


“We need to deal with the issues of poverty," said NDP MPP Gilles Bisson, who warned the government’s recent move to cut in half the expected increase in social-assistance rates could make the situation worse.


“We’re not investing in housing. We’re not dealing with any of that stuff. If you really wanted to deal effectively with guns, you’ve got to look at everything," he said.


Michael Bryant, executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and a former Ontario attorney-general, said the province’s new courthouse teams are a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.


“This is all a mirage. In the hundreds of bail hearings I have personally attended, I have never, ever seen a Crown attorney agree to bail being granted for somebody charged with a gun offence,” Mr. Bryant said.


Under the government’s current policy, prosecutors must oppose bail for gun crimes in all but “exceptional circumstances.” On Thursday, Ontario Attorney-General Caroline Mulroney confirmed that policy would not change.


The configuration of the new teams remains unclear. Seven courthouses in Toronto currently hold bail hearings for gun cases. The $7.6-million investment over four years comes out to roughly $270,000 a courthouse a year. With experienced senior Crown prosecutors earning annual salaries of more than $200,000, the money won’t fund sizable teams.


If the new prosecutors mean that bail hearings will take more time and resources, costs could balloon quickly.


“The question is where are you going to put them? Will this take additional court staff, additional court rooms, more judges? Has anybody thought that through?” asked Laurie Gonet, president of the Ontario Crown Attorneys Association.


Crown offices are already staffed with dedicated guns and gangs teams, established following a rash of gun crime in 2005. Securing bail for those accused of gun crimes presents a stiff legal challenge.


In 2007, the federal Conservative government brought in reverse-onus bail hearings for those accused of serious gun offences. In such cases, the court operates under the presumption that the accused should be locked up pending trial, an inversion of the normal procedure.


The reverse-onus hearing was one of several measures, which included longer mandatory minimum sentences, the federal Conservative government imposed to deter gun crime.


“What we’ve seen is that harsher sentences and reverse-onus bail, none of these things [has] had an impact on crime in the city,” criminal defence lawyer Daniel Brown said. “The stats show that crime-prevention programs works. If we had constant forest fires, we wouldn’t say the best approach is just to hire more forest firefighters. No, we would say, ‘How can we stop these fires from happening in the first place?’ That’s prevention. That’s what works.”


Mr. Tory’s office thanked the Premier for the funding. He pledged to ask council to match the province’s funding if he is re-elected this fall.


With a file from Jeff Gray