Local News

Ontario Allocates $29 Million to Enhance Court Capacity

TORONTO — In a significant move to address the backlog of criminal cases and improve community safety, the Ontario government has announced an investment of over $29 million. This funding will facilitate the appointment of at least 25 new judges to the Ontario Court of Justice (OCJ) and the hiring of 190 additional Crown prosecutors, victim support, and court staff.

Attorney General Doug Downey emphasized the government’s commitment to ensuring timely hearings for criminal cases, a crucial step in maintaining public safety and confidence in the justice system. “Through this investment, we are taking action to ensure the court has the capacity to hear cases in a timely manner,” Downey stated. “Keeping families and communities safe is a top priority for our government, and this investment builds on the progress being made in reducing and resolving cases before the courts.”

Chief Justice Sharon Nicklas welcomed the government’s commitment, highlighting the critical role of the additional judges in realizing the court’s vision. “This infusion will be critical in helping the court achieve its vision for a fair, accessible, and innovative system that delivers impartial and timely justice, ensuring that all participants are treated with dignity and can take part meaningfully,” Nicklas commented.

This funding comes on the heels of a previous $72 million investment made between 2021 and 2023 aimed at tackling the unprecedented backlog of criminal cases that accumulated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new judges, prosecutors, and support staff are expected to significantly reduce the ongoing backlog, ensuring swifter justice for all involved.

Meeting Legal Time Limits

In July 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada established an 18-month time limit for criminal proceedings in the OCJ to ensure cases are heard within a reasonable timeframe. Building on this, the OCJ issued a directive in November 2023 requiring criminal cases to be scheduled for trial within 15 months from the date charges are laid. This measure aims to ensure that trial dates fall within the Supreme Court’s 18-month limit, enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the justice system.

Continued Investments

Since April 2023, the Ontario government has allocated nearly $6 million annually to increase the number of full-time permanent court staff across the province. This ongoing financial support is part of a broader strategy to strengthen the justice system’s capacity and improve access to justice for all Ontarians.

The recent investment marks a crucial step in addressing the challenges faced by Ontario’s justice system. With the additional resources, the government aims to uphold the principles of justice, ensuring timely and fair resolutions for criminal cases and enhancing the safety and well-being of communities across the province.

For more updates on this story and other local news, stay tuned to GTA Today.

Samantha Deschamps

Samantha Deschamps serves as the Queens Park Reporter, offering insightful coverage of provincial politics with depth and accuracy. With a keen understanding of legislative intricacies, Deschamps provides invaluable perspectives on matters affecting Ontario. For inquiries or feedback, contact Samantha at samantha.deschamps@gtaweekly.ca.

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