Government will invest in technology and innovation required to shift more court services online
Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey has announced that the government has decided not to move forward with the Halton Region consolidated courthouse construction project, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although prior to the outbreak the project had been in the procurement phase, Downey said that there was a broad consensus that the public health crisis had shifted the needs of the justice sector.
The funds set aside for the construction project will be repurposed to deal with the immediate infrastructure needs of the Milton and Burlington courthouses and to invest in the technology and innovation required to shift more court services to online or remote alternatives.
Downey said that the investments would improve access to justice even among rural and remote communities, would span the areas of criminal, civil and family law and would “leave a legacy of transformational benefits to all Ontarians in every region.”
The government is collaborating with justice partners and innovators to develop these innovations, which aim to establish a more accessible, responsive, resilient and modernized justice system.
Local 793 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, a construction union in Ontario, expressed disappointment with the decision not to proceed with the project and called on the Ford Government to reconsider.
“It is unfathomable that the Attorney General’s office would cancel the hundreds of jobs needed and a project two years in the planning with the absolutely ridiculous notion that ‘virtual justice’ could replace the real justice that courtrooms with juries, judges and the legal profession bring to ensure that justice is not denied,” said Mike Gallagher, the business manager at Local 793.