Commissioner’s Message

The Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs Canada (FJA) was created in 1978 to safeguard the independence of the judiciary and to put federally appointed judges at arm’s length from the administration of the Department of Justice. It exists to promote the better administration of justice and focuses its efforts on providing a sound support role to the federal judiciary.

The office administers three separate components that are funded from distinct sources. Statutory appropriations in Part I of the Judges Act provide funding for judges’ salaries, allowances and annuities and survivors benefits. Voted appropriations in two separate votes support the administrative activities of the Office of the Commissioner and the administrative activities of the Canadian Judicial Council.

The Canadian Judicial Council is made up of the Chief Justices, Senior Judges and Associate Chief Justices of Canada. The Council acts independently in the pursuit of its mandate to promote efficiency, uniformity, and accountability, and to improve the quality of judicial service in all superior courts in Canada. The Council is served by a small office whose staff reports to the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs but is accountable to the Chief Justice of Canada in serving the needs of the Council. FJA provides administrative and financial support and advice to the Council in support of its mandate.

FJA is structured to reflect its distinct role in support of the federal judiciary. Under the Program Activity Architecture, the organization is broken down into three program activities: Payments Pursuant to the Judges Act; Canadian Judicial Council; and Federal Judicial Affairs.

These activities strive to meet our priorities of: client service; corporate planning and reporting; information/management systems; and security.

Success in fulfilling these priorities is determined through measurement strategies which assess the level of achievement of key results. FJA is proud to provide a high level of service and support to federally appointed judges.

William A. Brooks
Commissioner

 

SECTION I – OVERVIEW

1.1 Raison d’ĂȘtre

To contribute to the preservation of judicial independence in Canada.

Mission Statement

To provide excellent services and support to the federal judiciary in a manner that promotes the independence of the judiciary and the confidence of Canadians in our judicial system.


1.2 Responsibilities

Section 73 of the Judges Act provides for the establishment of an officer called the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs who shall have the rank and status of a deputy head of a department. Section 74 sets out the duties and functions of the Commissioner.

The Office of the Commissioner:

  • administers Part I of the Judges Act by providing judges of the Federal Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, the Tax Court of Canada and federally appointed judges of provincial and territorial superior courts with salaries, allowances and annuities in accordance with the Judges Act;
  • prepares budgetary submissions for and provides administrative services to the Canadian Judicial Council ; and
  • undertakes such other tasks as the Minister of Justice may require in connection with any matters falling, by law, within the Minister's responsibilities for the proper functioning of the judicial system in Canada.

 

1.3 Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture

Strategic Outcome

FJA seeks to deliver high quality services to the Canadian Judiciary in order to support and promote judicial independence. In this regard, FJA contributes to the following strategic outcome:

An independent and efficient federal judiciary.

 

Program Activity Architecture

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1.4 Organizational Priorities


Organizational Priorities
Organizational Priorities Type Links to Strategic Outcome Description

Client Services

Ongoing

SO 1

FJA’s primary duty and responsibility is to administer the Judges Act and to provide all federally appointed judges with the support services that they require to fully carry out their judicial mandate. By listening to its clients and monitoring the judicial environment, FJA can identify the judges’ needs, present and future, and effectively adjust resources and operations to meet them.

FJA has the duty to provide various services to its clients, which include pensioners and survivors, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Canadian Judicial Council, Parliament, Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee members and judicial candidates, and Canadians who consult the Federal Courts Reports (including members of the judiciary and of the legal profession). FJA must also enhance the quality of existing services when needed and offer new services where feasible.

Corporate Planning and Reporting

Ongoing

SO 1

In response to recent requirements of the Treasury Board Secretariat, the Corporate Planning initiative has created a formal system of corporate policy development, planning, performance management and program evaluation which integrates Human Resource Planning.

By having a formal system for corporate policy development, planning, performance management and program evaluation, FJA is able to ascertain that the services it provides to judges, the Canadian Judicial Council, and to the Minister of Justice are in accordance with established policies and are effective and efficient.

Information/Management Systems

Ongoing

SO 1

The goal of the Information Management/Systems initiative is to improve and develop information management systems that support business programs and to improve the effectiveness of FJA’s management of information, data and knowledge resource holdings.

One of the expected benefits is to reduce FJA’s heavy reliance on manual processes, and introduce efficiencies through the adoption of automated information transfer mechanisms.

This entails the creation of integrated systems to reduce manual processes, eliminate redundant and home grown systems, and facilitate automated information transfer. The design and implementation must follow the systems development approach required in TB procedures and guidelines for the management of information systems projects.

Security

Ongoing

SO 1

The Security initiative aims to create a single point of reference for all aspects of security, including physical security of FJA clients, employees, visitors, facilities, data, information and systems and to ensure FJA is compliant with the Government Security Policy.

This initiative entails all current and foreseeable FJA roles and responsibilities for providing security to individuals, information, knowledge, data, systems, equipment, and facilities. The range of issues includes FJA strategies, policies, procedures, and protocols, as well as all issues of accountability, responsibility, and authority for all aspects of security.


1.5 Risk Analysis

FJA’s environment is complex due in part to the small size of its organization, the range of services it provides (compensation, benefits, language training, legal publishing etc.) and the large number of clients served. FJA is also one of the only organizations in government with the delicate task of regularly interacting with three branches of government: legislative for the administration of the Judges Act; judicial for a wide range of services; and the executive with respect to managerial and central agency requirements.

With only 70 employees, the Office serves more than 1,118 judges, 836 retired judges and survivors, 133 members of the Judicial Advisory Committees, between 500 and 600 applicants each year for judicial appointment and Canadians in general (including members of the judiciary and of the legal profession) through the publication of the Federal Courts Reports. FJA administers a budget in excess of $480 million annually which pays for judges’ salaries, allowances and annuities, relocation and travel expenses as well as covering the costs of running the Office (informatics, training, finance, administration and other related expenses). It provides services to judges including language training. It informs the legal community as well as the general public through the publication of the official reports of the decisions of the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal, the Federal Courts Reports, in a bilingual, side-by-side format, thus ensuring a permanent record of these decisions. It also promotes access to justice and provides value to Canadians. FJA also serves the requirements of the Minister of Justice through the operation of the Judicial Appointments Secretariat which supports Judicial Advisory Committees responsible for assessing candidates who apply for judicial appointment.

Recognizing this context, FJA has developed a risk profile and actively monitors through its management team external and internal risks. Outlined below are the risks FJA identified for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

External Risks – Workload demand for FJA services are increasing in line with demographic changes in the client base, which brings additional operational demands. Requirements are also increasing for administering the reimbursement of travel and other allowances to federally appointed judges. FJA actively monitors and manages risks related to managing additional workload to ensure judges received timely reimbursement of their salaries, allowances and annuities, in accordance with the Act.

Part of the role of FJA is to provide administrative support to the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) which has the authority over the work of more than 1118 federally appointed judges. As part of its mandate, CJC receives and investigates complaints against members of the judiciary. Resources required depend upon the number of complaints received and the manner in which they proceed, for example, complaints which result in an inquiry require considerable resources. CJC is also mandated to set policies and provide tools that help the judicial system remain efficient, uniform, and accountable. The resources required to achieve this goal have increased. There is increased demand on the Council to address various issues of the judiciary.

FJA complies with the same central agency expectations and requirements (comptrollership, management and accountability systems, etc.) as larger departments with core, specialized resources in the fields of planning, communications, human and financial administration and evaluation. FJA has a small management team and more informal and hands-on day-to-day monitoring and management functions which provides the flexibility and responsiveness required to effectively manage risk in relation to standard processes supporting a client base of federally appointed judges.

The Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission will be providing its final report to the Minister of Justice in June 2012. Changes to judicial compensation and benefits may have an impact on the resource requirements of FJA.

Internal Risks – FJA recognizes that it operates within a technology-driven world economy and must meet evolving expectations, including those set by the federal government and the Management Accountability Framework (MAF). The MAF provides a very effective reality check on key areas of risk with respect to information management and technology which are important to the effective administration of service to judges.

The mandate of the FJA includes “do such other things as the Minister may require in connection with any matter or matters falling, by law, within the Minister’s responsibilities for the proper functioning of the judicial system in Canada.” Judges Act, s. 74(1)(d). The Minister has delegated to FJA responsibility for the administration of the Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission as well as administrative support to the Supreme Court of Canada Appointment Process. The activities related to the Supreme Court of Canada Appointment Process depend upon the number of vacancies to be filled. These activities and those in support of the Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission represent unfunded obligations that FJA must meet by reallocating internal resources.

The principal risk FJA faces from a Human Resource perspective is the loss of expertise and corporate memory from the retirement of long-serving experienced staff. As with most government organizations, short and medium-term retirement of managers and staff members may exacerbate the Office’s vulnerability. Efforts are underway to develop succession plans including staffing and choice of process. FJA’s integrated business and human resources planning process is intended to assess and understand our current and future needs on the human resource management components of recruitment, retention, learning, development, employment equity and official languages.

FJA maintains and updates a sophisticated work planning process which defines key initiatives and resource requirements. Financial forecasting and expenditure reporting is actively monitored. Judges are reimbursed their actual and reasonable expenses incurred under the authority of the Judges Act. Judges’ caseload and work schedules are determined by their Chief Justices based on the caseload of the court. Any forecast of expenses incurred by judges is based on historical trends. Actual expenses incurred may be greater or less than the forecasts.

As part of its programs offered to judges, FJA provides language training services. FJA has traditionally made use of the services offered by the Canada School of Public Service for obtaining language training teachers for its sessions offered throughout the year as well as the one-on-one training provided to judges throughout the year. As of March 31, 2012, the School ceased direct delivery of language training and accordingly FJA is required to make arrangements for language training with other suppliers.

FJA faces the challenge/risk of balancing resources for ongoing activities with the requirements of coordinating initiatives related to the involvement of the Canadian judiciary in international cooperation activities. In 1996, FJA became involved in international judicial programs funded through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT). Furthermore, in 2006, in order to ensure that participation by the judiciary in international activities does not compromise judicial independence and impartiality or otherwise bring the administration into disrepute, the CJC adopted a Policy on International Judicial Activities, which placed additional responsibility on the Commissioner. By providing these services, FJA contributes to safeguarding the independence of the Canadian judiciary. Commencing with Ukraine, partnerships with Russia, Ethiopia, China, Mexico, Ghana, Jamaica, Peru and other countries quickly followed. Most of these projects have been completed.

FJA remains involved in promoting and facilitating participation by members of the Canadian judiciary in a number of international co-operation projects. FJA regularly receives/hosts international delegations to share its core expertise. In addition, FJA continues to cooperate with CIDA, DFAIT, the Department of Justice Canada and other government agencies in shaping Canadian government policies toward aid and technical assistance in the field of judicial reform abroad. FJA depends entirely on funding from other government departments to maintain its capacity to continue to provide support to judges involved in international activities.

Our organization makes use of the central compensation tools provided by Public Works and Government Services Canada. FJA have been informed that the existing pension system currently maintained by PWGSC for judges will be discontinued in the next few years. There have been in discussions with PWGSC with regard to a replacement solution. The impact on this organization as a result of these changes has not yet been determined.

FJA has established a frozen allotment to assist us in reimbursing the costs for legal services provided to judges who face legal actions as a result of their judicial duties. These funds are also used to assist judges against whom Canadian Judicial Council inquiries have been established. The budget associated with providing this service to judges can be substantially depleted by the impact of a single inquiry. Additional funds could be needed depending on the number and nature of legal services needed by the judges.

 

1.6 Planning Summary


Financial Resources ($ millions)
2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015
$484,978,148 $497,827,174 $511,177,381

Human Resources (Full-Time Equivalents-FTE)
2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015
70 70 70

 

Strategic Outcome: An independent and efficient federal judiciary
Performance Indicators Targets

Compliance with service standards

90% compliance with established service standards.

Judges’ view on the contribution of the Office to judicial independence

90% of Judges are satisfied with the administration of the judiciary and feel it effectively contributes to their independence.


 

Planning Summary Table ( $ millions)
Program Activity 1 Forecast
Spending
2011-12
Planned Spending Alignment to Government of Canada Outcomes
2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
Payments
Pursuant to the
Judges Act
$456,793,000 $474,685,800 $487,534,826 $500,885,033 Safe and Secure Communities
Canadian Judicial Council $1,734,958 $1,703,016 $1,703,016 $1,703,016

Safe and Secure Communities Government Affairs

Federal Judicial Affairs $8,247,666 $7,714,532 $7,714,532 $7,714,532 Safe and Secure World Through International Cooperation. Government Affairs
Total Planned Spending $466,775,624 $484,103,348 $496,952,374 $510,302,581

Planning Summary Table ( $ millions)
Program Activity 1 Forecast
Spending
2011-12
Planned Spending Alignment to Government of Canada Outcomes
2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
Internal Services $874,800 $874,800 $874,800 $874,800
Total Planned Spending $467,650,424 $484,978,148 $497,827,174 $511,177,381

 

1.7 Expenditure Profile

Departmental Spending Trend

Expenditure Profile - Spending Trend Graph

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The total spending for the department shows a continual increase over the planning period. This increase is a result of a provision in the Judges Act which allows for an annual increase in salaries to judges based on the Industrial Aggregate. These estimates do not take into consideration the potential impact of the results of the recommendations of the Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission.

1.8 Estimates by Vote

For information on our organizational votes and/or statutory expenditures, please see the 2012-13 Main Estimates publication. An electronic version of the Main Estimates is available at http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/est-pre/2012-2013/me-bpd/info-eng.asp.

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