CALGARY – The organization representing Alberta Crown prosecutors says increased caseloads resulting from the Supreme Court of Canada’s so-called Jordan decision, along with a provincial wage freeze, is making it difficult to recruit new prosecutors to fill Alberta’s dwindling ranks.
The Supreme Court issued the Jordan decision in 2016, which says anyone charged with an offence has the right to have the case tried within a reasonable amount of time — 18 months for provincial courts and 30 months for superior courts.
Damian Rogers, the treasurer of the Alberta Crown Attorneys’ Association, says a recent Alberta government announcement for plans to hire an additional 10 prosecutors for regional offices is a step in the right direction.
But he said in the past year alone, 20 prosecutors have left rural offices, particularly in the northern part of Alberta, making it difficult to recruit and retain prosecutors.
Rogers says the freeze on wages and the increased workload as prosecutors struggle to catch up with the backlog of legal cases has a number leaving for private practice or for other provinces.
Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley says she shares the prosecutors’ concerns and her department is monitoring staffing levels.