FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ottawa, ON- April 29, 2021 – This week the House of Commons Justice and Human Rights Committee commenced a study on the impacts of COVID-19 on the judicial system across Canada. The study was initiated by Conservative MP Michael Cooper (St. Albert-Edmonton) who brought forward a motion last fall calling on the Committee to undertake the study. The Committee will hear from a cross-section of witnesses involved in Canada’s judicial system, including members of the judiciary, lawyers, court administrators, and representatives of organizations representing key stakeholders involved in the justice system. The Committee will prepare a report with recommendations to the Government following the study.
“COVID has had a profound impact on practically all aspects of the judicial system across Canada. Courts have had to delay many proceedings due to the pandemic. This has exacerbated the already significant backlog in our courts, including criminal trials. Such delays have negatively impacted victims seeking justice. Empanelling juries has been difficult, and some jury trials have been suspended altogether due to social distancing requirements and health concerns. COVID has necessitated rapid technological changes, some of which have created efficiencies, but in other instances have presented challenges. For example, virtual hearings raise issues around privacy and maintaining the open court principle recognized under section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
“In light of these and other issues, this study could not be more timely. I am confident that all members of the Committee will work together to look at what has gone right, what has not, and bring forward constructive recommendations to the Government as our judicial system navigates COVID.”