Crown counsel from across Canada join Quebec prosecutors and lawyers in Quebec City rally

TORONTO, Feb. 7 /CNW/ - Representatives of Crown prosecutors and government lawyers from across Canada will join their Quebec counterparts in protesting against the Quebec Government's  failure to negotiate fair salaries and employment conditions.  Quebec Crowns have suffered under wage freezes and cutbacks that have been in place since 2003, resulting in their being the lowest paid in Canada and their caseloads becoming unmanageable. The rally will take place in front of the Quebec National Assembly in Quebec City at noon on Tuesday.

The membership of the Quebec Crown prosecutors' association (Association des procureurs aux poursuites criminelles et pénales (APPCP) and the Quebec civil lawyers' and notaries' association (Association des juristes de l'État (AJE) voted by an overwhelming margin in favour of strike action last week after efforts at negotiating a contract broke down.  The associations have made numerous attempts at the bargaining table to resolve chronic funding deficiencies in the Quebec justice system.

At the rally the two Quebec associations will be joined by Jamie Chaffe, president of the Canadian Association of Crown Counsel (CACC), and by representatives of  Crown counsel associations from every province and the association representing federal Crown counsel.

The CACC wrote to Quebec Premier Jean Charest last week calling on him to "make a genuine effort" to sit down with the two Quebec Associations "in order to come to a fair resolution of this problem."

The CACC's letter said that while Crown counsel across Canada are facing a wide range of challenges, "the situation in Quebec is particularly dire and untenable." The letter expressed full support of the two Quebec groups "in their efforts to rebuild the administration of justice in Quebec and in their contemplation of strike action."

"Crown counsel are the cornerstone of the justice system," said the national association's president Jamie Chaffe in a statement. "Civil lawyers in government speak truth to power and ensure that the Government acts lawfully. Criminal prosecutors are required to vigorously and fairly prosecute criminal matters without prejudice or favour. Together, their role is nothing less than upholding the rule of law. This critical role demands that they and their families are secure from harm, that they are adequately paid and trained and that they are fully resourced and staffed.  If these requirements are not met, public safety is compromised."

In December 2005, the Quebec government legislated a wage freeze for two years beginning in 2003 followed by wage increases of two per cent for the years 2005-2009 -- tearing up an agreement which had been achieved by negotiation. This legislation has been condemned internationally and is the subject of a Constitutional action for breach of the associations' Charter rights. The legislation was binding until March 31, 2010. Since that date the associations have attempted to bargain in good faith but without any progress.

Further, Quebec's Crown attorneys are understaffed and overworked, says Christian Leblanc, head of the APPCP. Quebec prosecutors are the lowest paid in Canada and this has made recruitment difficult. His association is asking that 200 more Crown prosecutors be hired to alleviate unconscionable workloads. Mr. Leblanc and AJE President Marc Lajoie said that their members are committed to pursuing strike action until the Government makes the commitments needed to address the issues at the bargaining table.

SOURCE Canadian Association of Crown Counsel

For further information:

Jamie Chaffe

President, Canadian Association of Crown Counsel


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Canadian Association of Crown Counsel

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Association Canadienne des Juristes de l'État

Renseignements sur cet organisme


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