Alberta Rejects Federal Funding for Family Court Judges, Opts for New Justice Strategy

Alberta rejects federal funding for family court judges, opts for new justice strategy focused on pre-court services and mediation to divert cases from court.

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Sakchi Khandelwal
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Alberta Rejects Federal Funding for Family Court Judges, Opts for New Justice Strategy

Alberta Rejects Federal Funding for Family Court Judges, Opts for New Justice Strategy

The Alberta government has rejected federal funding for 17 dedicated family court judges, choosing instead to maintain the current court structure and introduce a new family justice strategy in Edmonton, Calgary, and Red Deer.

The federal government had offered $10.9 million per year to fund the judge positions as part of a unified family court system, but Alberta Justice Minister Mickey Amery stated that the conditions attached to the funding were unacceptable for the province.

Minister Amery explained that the province's existing Court of King's Bench can effectively handle most family law cases, and the government is not willing to remodel the family courts to receive the federal funding. "The province and the federal government agree that the Court of King's Bench needs more judges, but the United Conservative Party government is not willing to remodel the family courts to get the funding," Amery said.

Instead of accepting the federal government offer, Alberta is introducing a new family justice strategy that will focus on pre-court services, mediation, and alternative dispute resolution options. The province plans to hire more staff for pre-court services and require most cases to try mediation first, in an effort to divert more families from court hearings.

Why this matters: The decision to reject federal funding for dedicated family court judges has significant implications for the efficiency and accessibility of the family court system in Alberta. The choice to maintain the current court structure and introduce a new family justice strategy will impact how families navigate legal issues and the resources available to them.

Lawyers and legal organizations, including the Canadian Bar Association Alberta branch, have expressed disappointment with the government's decision. They argue that a unified family court system would be more efficient and accessible for citizens and lawyers, particularly for those representing themselves or receiving limited legal help. The federal government has now decided to redistribute the funding initially allocated for the Alberta judges to appoint superior court judges across the country where they are most needed.

Minister Amery emphasized the province's commitment to improving family court services, stating, "We are focusing on hiring more staff for pre-court services and requiring most cases to try mediation first, in an effort to divert more families from court hearings." The new family justice strategy will be implemented in Edmonton, Calgary, and Red Deer, with the goal of providing more support and alternative dispute resolution options for families navigating the legal system.

Key Takeaways

  • Alberta rejected federal funding for 17 family court judges.
  • Alberta will maintain current court structure, introduce new family justice strategy.
  • Strategy focuses on pre-court services, mediation, alternative dispute resolution.
  • Lawyers and legal organizations disappointed with decision, citing efficiency concerns.
  • Federal funding will be redistributed to appoint judges where most needed.