Alberta’s justice system is overburdened. We cannot meet mandatory timelines for trials, causing criminal cases to be thrown out. Albertans are enduring long waits for civil and family trials. We have a plan to fix this that focuses on creating an efficient and fair system.
The Provincial Government is Responsible for: There are three courts in Alberta: the Provincial Court, the Court of Queen’s Bench, and the Court of Appeal, and each has powers and jurisdiction to hear certain cases.
The Provincial government is responsible for appointing judges to the Provincial Court and paying their salaries. On the other hand, the federal government is responsible for appointing justices to the Court of Queen’s Bench and the Court of Appeal and paying their salaries. In addition, the court system (the bureaucracy like the clerks and sheriffs) is administered and paid for by the Provincial government. So, the Provincial government has a lot of responsibility when it comes to the administration of the Court system.
In addition to the courts, there are administrative tribunals that the Provincial government runs, like the Alberta Human Rights Commission or the Alberta Labour Relations Board. These tribunals exist to specifically deal with issues arising from Provincial laws in their specific jurisdiction. The Federal government also has administrative tribunals that deal with laws under federal jurisdiction, such as the Immigration and Refugee Board.
Crime Reduction Strategy: Albertans deserve to feel safe. Alberta’s economic hardships have come with a rise in crime rates. We want to tackle crime in a way that puts results first. That means addressing root causes and investing in crime prevention. We will:
- Increase support for community watch groups.
- Create a $100 refundable tax credit for home security systems.
- Tackle root causes of crime, including poverty, mental health and addictions.
- Invest another $5 million into the regional victims of crime fund.
Reducing Court Wait Times
Justice delayed is justice denied. Court wait times in Alberta must be reduced for both civil and criminal court cases. The Alberta Liberals would establish a task force to consider strategies for reducing wait times, including:
- Standardizing case management procedures.
- Encouraging alternative dispute resolution, including aboriginal approaches like healing circles.
- Hiring more clerks, Masters and Provincial Court Judges.
- Pressuring the Federal Government to appoint more Queen’s Bench and Appellate Justices by creating and funding more judicial positions.
- Increasing funding for court interpreters to reduce the number of trials delayed by language barriers.
- Unified family court.
- Increased funding for legal aid.
Mental Health and Drug Courts: The Alberta Liberals are committed to implementing Mental Health and Drug Courts.
If you want to stop crime, you have to tackle the root causes. That is why we need specialized mental health and addictions courts. In addressing the mental health and addictions issues underlying crimes, we can greatly reduce the rate of reoffense in Alberta and keep citizens safe.
Anti-SLAPP Legislation: A “strategic lawsuit against public participation” (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to intimidate and put financial pressure on critics until they abandon their criticism or opposition.
Such lawsuits have been made illegal in many jurisdictions because they impede freedom of speech. We will pass Anti-SLAPP Legislation in Alberta to end this unethical practice.
Fix the Medical Examiner’s Office: Alberta’s Medical Examiner’s office is broken. It has faced multiple multi-million dollar lawsuits, high staff turnover, and reports of up to 11 month waits for autopsies which have affected our ability to address homicides and the opioid crisis.
Alberta Liberals will fix our broken Medical Examiner’s office and get autopsy wait times down. We will expand access to Medical Examiner’s services and hire a new medical examiner for Northern Alberta.
Family Law Reform: Dealing with Family Law can be an emotionally trying experience. When done wrong, the repercussions can reverberate through lives for years to come. It is critical that we ensure just outcomes and act in the best interest of the children.
An Alberta Liberal government would push for Family Law reforms, including but not limited to:
- Setting date of separation for date of division of property or considering a hybrid date model.
- Creating an informal family case management system to reduce the need for costly and emotionally-draining trials.
- The creation of a unified family court.
- Establish an Access Program Coordinator position within the Justice and Solicitor General ministry to enforce child custody and access orders