Provincial Court of BC - Judicial Resources

Year
2011
Category
Justice and Protective Services
NCLGA Ref#
A5
UBCM Ref#
B9

Status

Endorsed by the NCLGA and UBCM Memberships

Details

WHEREAS it has been identified in the “Report of the Provincial Court of BC Concerning Judicial Resources, September, 2010” that the Provincial Court of British Columbia cannot presently fulfill it’s mandate to provide timely access to justice as the judicial complement is below that in 2005;

AND WHEREAS as a result of insufficient judicial and support staff levels the Provincial Court of BC’s ability to provide services to the citizens of British Columbia is inefficient and is affecting the administration of justice in the Province;

AND WHEREAS communities throughout the Province are being adversely impacted due to unreasonable delays and the increasing backlog regarding all types of cases within the Provincial Court of BC jurisdiction:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that NCLGA and UBCM lobby the Province of BC to promptly increase the judicial complement, Court Registry staffing, and Sheriff’s Services as is necessary to prevent further deterioration of the Court’s services to the public.

Responses

Hon. Shirley Bond, Attorney General and Solicitor General

Ministry of Attorney General

The Ministry of Attorney General (Ministry) appreciates UBCM raising the issue of resourcing of the courts and court services.

The Ministry is committed to working with the judiciary and other justice system partners to streamline and improve the administration of justice in British Columbia. We are working to provide the highest level of judicial resources possible within budget limitations.

On July 24, 2011, the Government of British Columbia announced five new Provincial Court judge appointments for the Lower Mainland, Okanagan and northern British Columbia. These appointments are in addition to the nine appointments made last year in response to the Provincial Court of British Columbia's request for additional judges. These appointments will help reduce the time it takes court cases to go to trial so they can be heard in a timely manner. Further, judges are also being rotated into communities where needed to ensure court hearings proceed.

With regard to staffing in sheriff services, as a result of the concerns raised by the Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of British Columbia, the Ministry restored the hours for auxiliary and part-time deputy sheriffs to former levels. Court Services Branch has also recently hired 36 new deputy sheriff candidates who have now begun the training program to become sheriffs.

The Criminal Justice Branch is covering critical Crown counsel shortages with ad hoc prosecutors (private bar lawyers> to address service delivery pressures. Additionally, some limited hiring has begun to -increase resource levels to respond to additional judicial resources that were announced in early summer 2011.  

In addition, the Ministry has introduced a number of initiatives to improve access, increase efficiency and enhance justice system integration, including audio and video conferencing, the video interview pilot project in Vancouver and Surrey, the criminal case management pilot in Victoria, fax filing and court services online.