Justice Reform and Transparency Act
The Justice Reform and Transparency Act, 2013, received Royal Assent on March 14, 2013, and some sections came into force April 11, 2013 (see details below). The act is one part of government’s justice reform initiative aimed at making the justice system more efficient and effective.
The legislation also responds to many of the recommendations made by Geoffrey Cowper in his independent review of the system, A Criminal Justice System for the 21st Century (PDF, 3.7MB).
Highlights of the Justice Reform and Transparency Act
This legislation sets the framework for a well-functioning, transparent justice system that is strengthened by greater collaboration among justice leaders. The act has three purposes:
- To establish a new model to foster justice system collaboration and open data
- Create new dialogue with the public about the system's performance, and
- Make reforms to the administration of the courts
First Part of the Act:
In the first part of the act, a new structure for planning and reporting in the justice system is established and responsibilities are outlined. This includes the Justice and Public Safety Council announced in 2012. The council will set the strategic direction and vision for the provincial justice system through an annual Justice and Public Safety Plan, engage in dialogue with major justice participants and stakeholders, and guide the way to open, transparent and accountable leadership.
The act allows the minister of justice to establish advisory boards as needed to provide expertise and advice to support the Justice and Public Safety Council.
It requires a Justice Summit be held at least once a year to encourage innovation and facilitate collaboration across the sector. The Summit is a forum for frank discussion between justice sector leaders about how the system is performing and how it can be improved. The inaugural Summit was held March 15-16, 2013. (Reports of the Justice Summit are available here.)
The Justice Reform and Transparency Act requires the Justice and Public Safety Council to gather and share information to allow for clear performance measures to help assess progress towards proposed goals, and to report the results publicly each year.
Second Part of the Act:
The second part of the act includes amendments to the Provincial Court Act and the Supreme Court Act.
With respect to the Provincial Court Act, the amendments focus on the role and duties of the Chief Judge, supports improvements in judicial administration and provides for increased stability of the judicial complement. It also amends the Supreme Court Act so that the Chief Justice can assign Supreme Court judges to court locations most in need.
As part of the act, the attorney general entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (PDF) on April 3, 2013, with the Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Chief Judge of the Provincial Court.
The act also amends the Police Act to provide for improved sharing of information relevant to the administration and management of policing programs as a major component of the justice system. This does not relate to criminal cases or operational policing matters.
Key sections of the act came into force April 11, 2013. These include:
- Section 1: Definitions
- Section 2: Justice and Public Safety Council
- Section 3: Objects of council (except 3(b) and 3(c)
- Section 4: Advisory boards
- Section 5: Justice and Public Safety Strategic Vision
- Section 9: Justice Summit
- Section 10: Memoranda of Understanding
- Section 11: Independence not restricted
- Section 12: Section 5 of the Offence Act
- Sections 13 to 30: Court provisions (except section 18)
Sections of the act relating to developing strategic plans, 3(b) and 6, will come into force in October 2013 and the remaining sections of the act, 3(c), 7, 8, and 18 will be brought into force at a later date. These sections relate to performance reporting, annual reports and determining a judicial complement.
The Order-in-Council is available here. (PDF)