In 2008, the Ontario Attorney-General launched “Justice on Target,” a project intended to reduce wait times and delays in the criminal court system. The initiatives were broken down into several programs:
- Meaningful First Appearances
- Dedicated Prosecution
- Crown Access Commitment
- Streamlined Disclosure
- Appearance Standard
- Increased Availability of Plea Courts
- Direct Accountability
- Enhanced Video Conferencing
- Bail Enhancements
- On-Site Legal Aid
The new Attorney General, Hon. John Gerretsen, announced today to the media that the project may not meet its goal of 30% reduction in appearances,
It’s difficult for all of us to change the way we’ve traditionally been doing things, and perhaps the target of 30 per cent may have been too ambitious at the time.
But I see some value in the fact that we have reduced, on average, the number of appearances and that we’re heading in the right direction. But much more proactive work has to be done.
The revelation may have been prompted by an article by Kendyl Sebesta in The Law Times, which obtained a review obtained by a freedom of information request and showed inconsistent and negative results and funding problems,
The statistics aren’t promising so far, according to the review. Only courts in Scarborough and Brampton, Ont., have seen a decrease in the average number of days and appearances to disposition for a criminal case between 2010 and 2011, the review found.
At the remaining courthouses — Etobicoke, Old City Hall, and College Park — the number of days to disposition has actually increased or the figures have remained largely stagnant. At College Park, for example, that figure jumped to 290 days in 2010 from 221 in 2007, an increase of 31 per cent.
Min Gerretson responded to the Times piece, saying that more funding was needed. He also expressed concerns over the omnibus crime Bill C-10, which would create additional costs by jailing offenders for longer periods.