MANITOBA

Measuring Progress

Transparent Reporting on Government's Progress

Queen’s Bench Time to Disposition (Criminal Division)

876 Days

Target: To maintain time to disposition at current levels while Bill C-75 is implemented

How we are doing now

Manitoba Justice has been tackling time to disposition in the criminal court system for some time with its Criminal
Justice System Modernization Strategy.

Compared to Time to Disposition (TTD) in Provincial Court, TTD for criminal matters that proceed to Queen’s
Bench (typically the most serious of cases) fluctuates considerably from quarter to quarter, due to the very small
number of cases handled each year (about 400 compared to 40,000 in Provincial Court).

In March 2020, Manitoba recorded its first confirmed case of the COVID‐19 virus. The ongoing global COVID‐19
pandemic has required all divisions of Manitoba Justice to undertake major adaptations and adjustments to
support the safe continuation of Justice Business. Periods of temporary closures for Manitoba Courts, suspension
of circuit court hearings, community closures, and other pandemic‐related delays have resulted in an increase in
time to disposition. However, the department continues to make improvements to infrastructure to allow courts
business to be conducted remotely. Presently, a variety of technological enhancements are underway to improve
video conferencing capacity in court centres and correctional centres to allow for court operations to be
conducted virtually.

Like other jurisdictions, Manitoba is currently combatting the second wave of the pandemic. Changes remain
ongoing as government responds to challenges presented by the pandemic.

Time to Disposition - Queen’s Bench

Data Source

TTD for Queen’s Bench criminal matters is measured by the number of days between the accused’s first
appearance date and the date their charges are disposed of, usually either by the accused pleading guilty, the
outcome of a trial, or by the Crown staying the charge.

Why This Matters

Timely justice is important for victims to have resolution of their matter, and for the accused to receive the
appropriate sentence and begin receiving rehabilitative programming. Excessive delays can result in charges being
stayed either due to the Supreme Court of Canada’s Jordan decision, or to witnesses becoming unavailable or
disinterested. They can also result in accused individuals remaining in provincial custody who would belong in
federal custody upon sentencing. Individuals who are sentenced to two years or longer in jail are housed in
federal institutions, but pre‐sentence delays and credit for time served during this period can reduce sentences
below the two‐year threshold, resulting in more serious offenders serving their time in provincial institutions.

Next steps

Our Criminal Justice System Modernization Strategy aims to improve and maintain time to disposition in a number of ways.

First, crime prevention approaches should free up capacity in the justice system to deal with matters more quickly, as will making more effective use of restorative justice and other diversion options. Beyond this, changes to Crown policies and procedures have been introduced and continue to be refined. These changes:

  • help Crown attorneys determine the best way to deal with a charge as quickly as possible;
  • require Crown attorneys to review files earlier and make prompt decisions about how and whether a matter should proceed;
  • increase the volume of cases that are reviewed by Crown attorneys before charges are even laid; and
  • target resources on serious criminal cases to ensure the most important matters are dealt with as quickly as possible.

The second wave of the COVID‐19 pandemic has required the department, and the whole of government, to shift
their priorities to support Manitobans during the pandemic and preserve the health and wellbeing of the
provincial population. With the exception of those judge‐alone criminal trials involving accused persons who
are in custody, all currently scheduled trials set to proceed between Monday, November 16, 2020 and
Friday, December 11, 2020, will be adjourned to administrative lists for rescheduling. However, all trials
presently underway will continue remotely until completion. This development may impact Q3 Court of
Queen’s Bench TTD figures.

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