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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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‘No justice’ for accused, victims when court cases tossed by delays, lawyer says


Kate Matthews, the head of Ontario's Crown Attorneys' Association, says underfunding plus an increase in the volume and complexity of evidence are key factors slowing down criminal justice cases. (CBC )


Thousands of criminal charges are at risk of being tossed out of the courts due to delays caused by underfunding and the increasing complexity of criminal cases, says the head of Ontario's Crown Attorneys' Association. 


Kate Matthews appeared on CBC Toronto's Metro Morning Tuesday and said the Supreme Court's new rules for length of trials, which allow cases to be tossed out if they take too long, have put new pressure on a system already struggling to keep up with the case load.


Below is an edited transcript of Matthews's interview with Metro Morning host Matt Galloway, which comes on the heels of a November decision to stay a first-degree murder charge against Adam Picard in the 2012 death of construction worker Fouad Nayel. 


The judge ruled that Picard's Charter right to a fair trial was violated because he wasn't tried within a reasonable time. 


Matt Galloway: How unusual is it for a first-degree murder charge to be stayed and the defendant to be set free after a lengthy delay in getting his case to trial?


Kate Matthews: "It is very rare. This is the most serious offence in the Criminal Code. It's happened before, but it would be years ago." 


MG: Is it true there are something like 6,000 cases that are languishing, and could be at risk of being thrown out?


KM: "We estimate that there are approximately 6,000 cases in the criminal justice system in Ontario that are at the 18-month benchmark, which was set by the Supreme Court of Canada back in July. The presumption is if a case is at 18 months, that case is now at risk for these kind of stays."


MG: Why is it taking so long for these cases to come to trial? 


KM: "Essentially it is because the nature of prosecutions has changed dramatically over the past 10 to 15 years. The nature of evidence has changed. The briefs that we receive now are much more voluminous, they are much more complicated. Five years ago, the Toronto Police Service released approximately 17,000 video tapes to the Crown. Five years later, that has increased to 30,000. All of those videos take a long time to view, they take a long time to process, they take a long time to play in court. That's just one example. There's an increase in electronic evidence, computer evidence, cellphone evidence, just for examples." 


MG: Because of that increase in electronic evidence in particular, is it reasonable for somebody to sit for four years before their case makes it to trial? 


KM: "I'm not going to speak about the Picard case because it is under appeal, but four years, in my view, is too long to take to go to trial. Because the nature of prosecutions has changed, it is going to take longer to process them, but it should not take four years. If we had the right number of courtrooms, judges, prosecutors to assign to these cases, we could get them on in a more timely fashion." 


MG: Some say the justice system is under-funded. Is this what is leading to the delays? 


KM: "That is exactly the case. We have been raising this alarm for years through successive governments. The Jordan case and the consequence of it was foreseen by our association."


MG: Foreseen in that you could see that it was grinding too slowly?  


KM: "That's exactly right. That is one manifestation of the under-funding. The other manifestation of it is that we do not have enough Crowns to actually work on the files that we have. Even if we can get them to trial in a reasonable time, we do not have enough time to adequately prepare those cases. Our view is there's a real danger about the quality of justice, not just the time-to-trial issue." 


MG: What do you mean about the 'quality of justice?'


KM: "The ability for victims to feel they have the full attention of the Crown, for defence counsel to have the full attention of the Crown. For the Crowns to have the ability to fully assess the case that comes across them, to make timely decisions to make correct decisions." 


MG: What happens if a case is thrown out because it takes too long to get to trial? 


KM: "There is a sense that there is no justice at all. An accused person does not get the benefit of a full hearing and the chance to have themselves found not guilty. Victims and their families have no opportunity for any kind of meaningful resolution. To the general public, they have no opportunity to hear what that case is on its merits, what the evidence would have been."


MG:There have been accusations for some that the defence lawyers are gaming the system, knowing how broken the system is right now. That if you can figure out how to stretch a case out and delay, you can get your client off. Is that happening?


KM: "I don't believe that's what's happening here. I speak to a lot of defence counsel. I know their clients suffer for long trial delays. They have the same risk that a Crown would have, that they can lose evidence, they can lose witnesses, memories fade. In my experience, most defence counsel are interested in moving their cases along."


MG: Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi says he now wants to tackle this and expedite some of the serious cases. What do you make of his sudden interest in this? 


KM: "To be fair to this particular minister, he inherited this position and the Jordan case. We had the first opportunity to meet with him in late September. This government, and prior governments, have long known this was coming and the fact that there is a response now is somewhat frustrating. We had always feared there was going to be a crisis like this that would make governments act." 


MG: Is it likely that several thousand of these cases could be tossed out? 


KM: "I don't know if I want to say that it's likely ... but the Supreme Court has made it very clear that they expect these cases to be done 18 months in the Ontario Court of Justice and 30 months in Superior Court. In my view, 6,000 cases are going to be subject to significant scrutiny and they are at risk."