The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada deplores the lack of judges

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Richard Wagner, fears the fate that will be reserved for vulnerable people if the federal government does not add more staff to operate the courts and if it does not quickly tackle “considerable” delays in judicial appointments.

The country’s highest magistrate made this appeal Thursday during the annual general meeting of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) where he was invited to deliver a speech.

He recalled that access to justice is one of the most important principles of the judicial system.

“I fear that many marginalized Canadians will be deprived of this if the persistent lack of resources and considerable delays in judicial appointments are not addressed. »

He recalled that at 1er As of January, there were 78 vacancies in the federal courts, or 8% of the federal judiciary. Ottawa appoints judges to superior courts across the country, as well as those to federal courts.

This public outing by Richard Wagner recalls that made last fall by the chief judges of the courts of Quebec, who deplored the vacant positions of judges and the exodus of key employees, such as clerks, from courthouses.

Vacancies, long

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court indicated that some courts have had to deal with vacancy rates as high as 10 to 15% for years. Some of these positions remain vacant for months or even years, he lamented.

No need to tell you the impact that this situation can have on legal delays and court congestion, he continued.

“I also note that this situation does little to inspire public confidence in the judicial system. »

He assured CBA members, gathered in a general assembly, that he had raised his concerns at the highest levels in Ottawa.

Stressing that he is aware that efforts are being made, he noted the creation of 22 new positions on the judiciary last year — for a total of 37 new judge positions at the Superior Court and 116 in total for the federal judiciary since 2017 .

But more can be done, he insisted.

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