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Crown attorneys want to form a union, but NDP government presents a hurdle

Alberta’s Crown prosecutors want to unionize, but face hurdles to their bid, including the wording of provincial legislation and opposition from the NDP government.

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Publication date : 2018-08-17
Ford opposes handgun ban as he pledges funds to fight gun violence

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.

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Publication date : 2018-08-09
‘Pressure points’: Five new provincial court judges hired to help ease backlogs

The province named five judges in northern and central Alberta Tuesday in a move aimed at helping to relieve strain on the court system, says Alberta’s justice minister.

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Publication date : 2018-07-31
Long waits for RCMP firearms forensics putting prosecutions at risk

Staffing shortages saw routine firearms analysis requests take an average of 238 days in 2017-18

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Publication date : 2018-07-26
Federal lawyers’ union says low pay contributing to ‘crisis’ in hiring, retention, court delays

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.

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Publication date : 2018-04-26
NDP’s rural crime fighting plan gets mixed reviews

The NDP’s $10-million plan to combat rural crime with new RCMP officers, more Crown prosecutors and improved intelligence gathering is getting mixed reviews from a rural county reeve, a lawyers’ group and an opposition politician. 

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Publication date : 2018-03-12

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Trial delay crisis just getting worse


Courts left scrambling under new rules to limit trial delays, Oct. 17


Defence counsel Daniel Brown hit the nail on the head when talking about the causes of trial delay: a shortage of judges and crowns, lack of court space and delayed disclosure.


We have been raising the alarm on the under-resourcing of the crown’s offices for many years. It has long been apparent that a crisis was inevitable. Anyone working in the criminal justice system could see “Jordan” coming and yet the government did nothing with respect to this key reasons behind it. In fact, they’ve done quite the opposite.


In the last few years, the government has effectively reduced the number of assistant crown attorneys in trial offices across the province. We estimate that there are at least 6,000 cases in Ontario that sit at the Supreme Court’s benchmark of 18 months. In trial offices across the province there are hundreds of matters set for trial that sit unassigned because there are no available prosecutors.


This is truly a crisis and yet there has been no meaningful response from the government. The attorney general’s most recent mandate letter doesn’t even address it. It is also critical for the public to understand that the problems run much deeper than trial delay.


They are also related to the ability to assess, prepare and prosecute cases properly. It is about full and fair service to victims, to accused persons, their counsel, the courts, police and the public. All deserve our full time and attention.


The criminal prosecutors of this province are extremely dedicated public servants, deeply committed to the principles of public safety and the proper administration of criminal justice. But there are not enough of us.


Criminal prosecutions have become increasingly complex and take much longer to prosecute. Yet the numbers of prosecutors in the trial offices has decreased. Increasingly we are concerned that we will be unable to comply with our professional obligations and duties to the public we serve.


The Ministry of the Attorney General spokesperson says they are taking several steps to reduce delay. Certainly, where effective efficiencies can properly be made, we welcome them.


However, those steps will be mere band-aids if the government does not take meaningful, significant and immediate steps to increase the number of assistant crown attorneys in Ontario.


Kate Matthews, president, Ontario Crown Attorneys Association