Canada News

Get the latest new in Candada


Victims, advocates call for changes to justice system and Ontario courts

Cait Alexander stood shoulder-to-shoulder with NDP MPP and Attorney General critic Kristyn Wong-Tam Thursday morning, calling for reforms to the justice system.

Alexander says criminal proceedings against her ex-boyfriend have been cancelled twice.

“A restraining order — that is the only resolution the Canadian justice system could muster for my attempted murder by my ex-boyfriend,” she said during an appearance at Queen’s Park.

Alexander says the alleged attack happened in July 2021. She is now speaking out, hoping her words will lead to change in the justice system.

“I have now spoken with countless women who have had their debilitating gender-based violence cases either thrown out, or resolved with a peace bond,” she said.

Currently, Ontario’s courts are experiencing a plethora of issues. Critics say they are understaffed and under-resourced, and that issue needs to be dealt with urgently.

Story continues below advertisement

Speaking to reporters, Wong-Tam said the tough-on-crime rhetoric falls flat without courts that are adequately positioned to deal with cases, rather than toss them out.

The email you need for the day’s top news stories from Canada and around the world.

“The backlog is staggering,” said the MPP for Toronto Centre. “53,000 cases gather dust at the Landlord Tenant Board. Civil cases now take five years to get to trial, and the Ontario courts rank dead last in wait times nationwide.”

In July 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a reasonable delay to trial is 18 months for provincial cases and 30 months for cases before the superior court. That decision became more widely known as the Jordan Decision.

More on Crime

It was meant to establish a timeline for when a trial has to be heard, though coupled with the myriad of issues currently facing the court system, it has led to significant frustration.

“I was raped 789 days ago,” Emily Agar told reporters at Queen’s Park. “The Jordan Decision set a precedent that allowed for a maximum of 540 days for this rapist to have his trial heard and ruled upon. It has now been 147 days since the charges were stayed due to his right to a speedy trial.”

Lawyer Lorne Honickman told Global News that while the situation wasn’t good prior the pandemic, it worsened during the global outbreak.

In fact, things have become so dire that Honickman says ‘crisis’ would be a more accurate choice of wording.

Story continues below advertisement

Insufficient staffing is a significant issue he’s been hearing about and believes in order to properly deal with what ails the court system in the province, it is going to require a multi-pronged approach.

“The federal government has to appoint more superior court judges,” he told Global News during an interview.

Honickman also pointed to a need for the hiring of more staff and administration.

Global News approached the province for comment on the calls for change and were referred to its criminal case backlog reduction strategy, introduced in October 2021. It included a $72 million investment toward the hiring of more prosecutors and bail vettors, as well as greater compensation for court staff.

In an email, a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Attorney General said, “We will continue to build on the progress being made in reducing and resolving cases before the courts while keeping Ontarians safe.”

&© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

View original article here Source