Federation of Ontario Law Associations urges federal government to address judicial vacancy crisis

FOLA remained vocal, arguing that the pace remains too slow

Federation of Ontario Law Associations urges federal government to address judicial vacancy crisis

The Federation of Ontario Law Associations (FOLA) has issued a statement raising concerns over the federal government’s “ongoing failure" to keep pace with the demand for federal judicial appointments.

According to the FOLA, several serious criminal cases have been dismissed due to delays under s. 11(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees a person charged with an offence the right to a timely trial. Justice Henry S. Brown described the situation in February as an “untenable and appalling crisis,” emphasizing that the lack of federal judges is severely impacting the justice system. Justice Michael Code recently called the shortage an “embarrassment to the administration of justice.”

FOLA remained vocal alongside other legal stakeholders, arguing that the pace of federal judicial appointments remains too slow. There are currently 65 federal judicial vacancies across Canada, with 20 in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice alone.

In an April 17 report by The Toronto Star, Chantelle Aubertin, a spokesperson for the Attorney General of Canada, suggested that lawyers should streamline their use of court time, noting that "prominent judges have observed trials are taking longer than ever before." However, FOLA and its members find this attempt to shift the blame onto lawyers unacceptable.

“When cases fall through the cracks because of a lack of judicial resources, everyday people – families, victims, businesses, injured parties, and newcomers alike – lose confidence in the administration of justice. It is entirely inappropriate for the government to point fingers and lay blame on the judiciary or the other participants in the process,” said Douglas W. Judson, chair of FOLA. “The government seems to expect fewer judges to hear a growing volume of cases. While lawyers are here to support reforms to make processes more fair and efficient, those efforts only address the symptoms of a system that is failing our clients because this government is not acting quickly enough.”

Judson also emphasized that the government must fulfill its basic role in upholding the justice system rather than shifting responsibility onto others.

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