Mayor Tara Veer says Red Deer’s Crown prosecutors are overburdened by a rising number of crime cases so she’s asking Premier Jason Kenney to hire more for the provincial courthouse.
Veer notes some local criminal cases are affected by the Supreme Court’s R. v. Jordan decision in 2016, which set deadlines of 18 months for provincial court trials and 30 months in superior court.
This has resulted in hundreds of cases across Canada that take too long come to court to have the charges either stayed or dismissed.
Not only are Red Deer-area property theft and vandalism cases affected, said Veer, but she was told even a local sexual assault case was impacted by the Jordan decision.
Since public safety is a top priority for city council, Veer maintains this is a big concern.
In her letter to Kenney, Veer wrote local RCMP are doing their best to ensure criminals are arrested and charged, but Crown prosecutors are having to “triage” cases in order of severity to adhere to the Jordan standard.
“We are requesting the allocation of new Crown prosecutors for Red Deer to ensure the immediate justice needs of our residents and region are met, and in preparation for the opening of the expanded Justice centre in the near future,” she wrote in her letter.
The mayor met with Alberta’s Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer this month to discuss the shortage.
His UCP government has pledged to hire 50 more prosecutors and support staff. But the question remains how many will be slated for Red Deer’s courthouse?
Veer said when the former NDP government hired more Crown prosecutors, no additional prosecutors were allocated for Red Deer. She hopes this won’t happen again.
Jonah Mozeson, spokesperson for Alberta Justice, said no decisions have yet been made regarding the allocation of new Crown prosecutors and support staff — “but you can assume, given Red Deer’s population and the new courthouse (construction) that you would get some of the complement of new hires.”
He adds the allocations won’t be known until the provincial budget is approved. However, Mozeson said the justice minister is aware of Red Deer’s situation, following the meeting with the mayor.