OPSEU/SEFPO, along with several other unions, spent years warning the Ministry of the Attorney General that closing courthouses in Scarborough, Etobicoke, and North York and consolidating justice services at the New Toronto Courthouse (NTC) in the downtown core would cause hardship for staff and access to justice issues for many marginalized people involved in the justice system who live far from Toronto’s downtown. The Ford government went ahead anyhow, and those predictions have come to fruition.
Two recent Toronto Star articles outline the chaos in the justice system caused by the New Toronto Courthouse boondoggle, including staffing shortages, courtroom closures, and zoom-bombing of online proceedings by racist, Nazi remarks and pornographic videos. The delays caused by these issues are “leaving cases at greater risk of eventually being tossed for violating a person’s constitutional right to a trial within a reasonable time.”
From the articles:
OPSEU/SEFPO, which represents a number of the workers, said they are “extremely stressed and overworked.” Clerks are having to move from one courtroom to another juggling multiple cases with different judges.
The union said the average pay rate ranges from $23 to $29 an hour. OPSEU/SEFPO said the Ministry of the Attorney General has not listened to staff at the remaining courthouses who are raising cost-of-living concerns associated with having to soon work downtown.
“Many simply cannot afford to work downtown with additional costs including parking and commuting,” the union said in an email. “Those with children and elder care responsibilities can’t manage working and commuting longer hours and therefore there has been a surge in accommodation requests.”