Several attempts had been made in the past to address criminal court delay. In June 2008, then Attorney General of Ontario Chris Bentley, announced a new vision for making the criminal justice system more effective – one that involved all justice participants working together to identify, implement and sustain initiatives tailored to local community needs and challenges.
The Ministry of the Attorney General set out to develop that vision into Ontario’s first-ever results-based approach to reducing criminal court delay and improving public service in every Ontario criminal court. That transformational approach continues today under the leadership of current Attorney General John Gerretsen, Deputy Attorney General Murray Segal and Associate Deputy Minister Stephen Rhodes.
JOT provides a provincial framework for sustained engagement and collaborative effort by all justice stakeholders. Local and Regional Leadership Teams were formed, made up of representatives of local justice participant groups, including Judges, Justices of the Peace, Crown Attorneys, Defence Counsel, police, court staff, corrections, Legal Aid Ontario and other organizations. At each of Ontario’s criminal court sites, these representatives are engaged in developing, sustaining and owning initiatives at all levels: senior leadership, regional leaders, local leaders and staff.
For the first time in Ontario’s history, justice participants are addressing the issue of criminal court delay together in a way that respects their independent roles and encourages collaboration.
Mr. Justice Bruce Durno (external lead) and Director/Ministry Lead Lori Montague currently co-lead the strategy. Ms. Montague leads a dedicated JOT Implementation Team that ensures sound project governance and oversees the province-wide implementation of the strategy with justice stakeholders in local courthouses. The JOT Team works with local leaders and regional committees to identify and implement new approaches, monitor progress and ensure sustainability. Local leaders share ideas with each other, learn from experiences of their peers in other communities and implement new initiatives to suit their local needs.
Governance includes a Results Table that monitors overall progress, chaired by the Attorney General and includes the Secretary of Cabinet, representative of the Premiers Office and Ministry of Finance, the Deputy Attorney General, Deputy Ministers of Community Safety and Correctional Services and the Associate Deputy Minister. An eight-member Expert Advisory Panel composed of some of the best minds in the criminal justice field was also established to act as a sounding board for the strategy and provide system-wide expertise.
Justice on Target has led to many historic “firsts” for Ontario:
• First ever results-based approach to criminal justice in Ontario, setting system-wide goals to drive change;
• Justice stakeholder groups are working together and collaborating in a way that has never occurred before in Ontario’s history;
• First time in nearly two decades the average number of appearances needed to complete a criminal charge is consistently going down instead of up; and
• First time an initiative of the Ontario Public Service has been honoured with the top award of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC)/Deloitte Public Sector Leadership Award.