21 November 2012

New Provincial Court Report: Fewer judges now than in 2010

The Provincial Court of British Columbia has quietly published an updated document (PDF) detailing both new judicial appointments and judges lost to the court between 30 September 2010 and 31 October 2012.

Boiling it all down, the numbers show that the court has a judicial complement of 123.80 full-time equivalent judges now, three judges less than the complement of 126.30 the court had this time in 2010, and twenty judges below the 143.65 judges the court had in 2005.

In 2010, the court published a powerful a report detailing the effects of the short judicial complement on the administration of justice, Justice Delayed: A Report of the Provincial Court of British Columbia Concerning Judicial Resources (PDF), which ought to be mandatory reading for anyone with an interest in Provincial Court matters. The conclusion reached by the court is short and to the point:
"The Provincial Court of British Columbia is the only provincial court in Canada with fewer judges today than in 2005. In fact there are 17 fewer judges, and unless further appointments are made, this will result  in a loss of over 900 trial days in 2010 and over 1600 trial days in 2011.  
"To be effective in supporting the rule of law, and to fulfill its legal obligations to the public, the Court must process cases within a reasonable time. For most cases the Court is legally obligated to provide timely access and, as with other courts across Canada, seeks to manage its caseload according to accepted standards which reflect the relative public interest and priority of the different case types. 
"Given the reduction in the judicial complement the Court is unable to 'keep pace' with the new cases being presented to it. The current inventory of uncompleted cases is growing markedly, as is the delay for all case types other than youth court prosecutions. Increasingly the Court is failing to meet its legal obligation to provide timely access to justice."
The court has now released an update to the 2010 report (PDF), current to 30 September 2012.