In an effort to help British
Columbia’s beleaguered court
system, the province’s attorney
general has announced a new
court staff training program.
Shirley Bond said the Centre
for Court Administration would
provide training in specialized
court administration work, such
as criminal registry operations
The initiative, which drew
praise from B.C. Supreme Court’s
chief justice, is a partnership
between the Ministry of Attorney
General and the Justice Institute
of B.C. (JIBC).
“Developing a long-term education and training strategy for
court administration staff is a
government priority, as is establishing a sustainable training and
education strategy that supports
staff recruitment, engagement
and retention,” Bond said in a
statement to The Lawyers Weekly.
“Court Services is anticipating a
large staff turnover in the next
five years, particularly at the court
clerk and court registry positions.”
Bond said the program would
include a combination of online
courses, virtual classroom work
and in-person training at JIBC
campuses in New Westminster
and throughout the province.
Courses are anticipated to begin
in the next few months.
“They have an exceptional
track record in training many of
the people involved in our justice
system, from the police on the
street to the staff in our courtrooms,” Bond said of JIBC.
She said $80,000 has been
invested this fiscal year on curriculum development for the centre.
The investment has the support of B.C. Supreme Court Chief
Justice Robert Bauman, who, in a
November speech to the Canadian Bar Association (CBA),
decried the shortage of funding
for B.C.’s courts.
“The court cannot operate
effectively or efficiently without
adequate numbers of well-trained
court clerks and registry staff.
Their support of the judiciary is
crucial to our work,” Justice
Bauman said in a Jan. 23 statement to The Lawyers Weekly.
“I hope that the government
continues to make investments
into the justice system so that the
judiciary’s ability to fulfill its role
as neutral, unbiased and impartial decision maker—a role
which is fundamental to the
functioning of a society governed
by the rule of law—is not compromised, undermined or
eroded,” Bauman said.
Canadian Bar Association B.C.
branch president Sharon Matthews welcomed any changes,
including staff increases.
Matthews echoed some of
Bauman’s November speech in
which he said the Court Services
budget will have been reduced by
more than 10 per cent between
2008 and fiscal 2012-13. “That
translates directly to a reduction in
staffing levels. In 2008, Court Ser-
vices staffing level was 1,430 FTEs.
Today, there are 213 fewer FTEs.”
Matthews said court rules
have changed toward getting ear-
lier resolution to disputes. That,
she said, has led to an increase in
the amount of court work needed
to be done at the start of cases
and increased the need for court
staff to assist judges.
recruits began training Jan. 23.
The attorney general’s office said
Jan. 23 that 58 news sheriffs are
expected to have entered the system by the time the course completes in April.
More than 480 sheriffs work
in 45 courthouses and 44 circuit
courts throughout B.C., a ministry fact sheet said. n
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