The number of cases over 18 months old before B.C. Provincial Court has climbed 16 per cent to 2

Congested courts put more cases at risk

Worsening backlog may set more accused free

More than half of all B.C. Provincial Court cases have been stuck in the system for at least a year and a growing number are at risk of being thrown out as a result.

Those are among the findings of a new update to the B.C. Provincial Court’s Justice Delayed report, which originally warned of serious delays in the system last fall.

The update shows there were 2,371 adult criminal cases before the courts for more than 18 months as of March 31– a 16 per cent increase from 2,038 a year earlier.

Criminal cases 12 to 18 months old climbed 18 per cent over the same period from 4,856 to 5,744.

Together, the two categories make up just over half of the court’s entire caseload.

Judges are bound by Supreme Court of Canada rulings on how long cases can drag on and trials are being quashed over unacceptable delays of as little as 14 months, depending on the circumstances.

The average delay across B.C. for a two-day criminal trial in March was 10.6 months, slightly worse than nine months earlier, although the stats show some improvement in the waits for child protection hearings, small claims trials and family law trials.

But the numbers vary considerably depending on the court house.

Surrey remains the worst for adult criminal cases, with a 16-month wait for a two-day trial.

Fort St. John, Chilliwack, Terrace, Vancouver (Main Street), Kelowna and Vernon were all booking two-day criminal trials at least 13 months away.

The longest delays for child protection hearings (13 to 15 months) were in Cranbrook, Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Terrace, while delays of 14 to 15 months were being recorded for family trials in Fort St. John, Cranbrook, Abbotsford and Chilliwack.

The original report recommended B.C. move to restore the number of Provincial Court judges from 126.3 full-time equivalents (FTEs) in September 2010 to the 2005 level of 143.6.

While a few new judges have been hired since the initial report, others have retired, been promoted to B.C. Supreme Court or opted to start to cut their hours to part-time.

As a result, the number of judges is now 125.1 FTEs as of the end of June, about 15 per cent fewer than in 2005 despite more cases of greater complexity.

The province passed a budget this spring requiring further cuts to court staffing.

Just Posted

Hay bales and high fives for Port Alberni soapbox derby

New track on Lower Argyle Street gets a thumbs up

Brush fire breaks out near Taylor Arm Park

Fire forces partial closure of Highway 4 west of Port Alberni

Rosalind Chapman seeks seat on Port Alberni city council

Community volunteer and longtime Alberni Valley resident Rosalind Chapman will seek a… Continue reading

Accident causes power outage on Beaver Creek Road

One sent to West Coast General Hospital in crash

Inside the music: step behind the curtain at the venerable Vancouver Island Music Festival

Big Read: VIMF in the Comox Valley exemplifies the spirit of an Island summer music festival

BC Wildfire merges two Okanagan wildfires

Large plume of smoke seen over the fire was a controlled event

Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau’s nanny

At its top range, the order works out to a rate of $21.79 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week

Lower Mainland teams battle for baseball gold at BC Games

Vancouver Coastal squeaked out a 3-2 win against Fraser Valley

The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw people signed an agreement-in-principle with the B.C. government

The signing ceremony, at the Eliza Archie Memorial School, was 25 years in the making

Canada to resettle dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria

There are fears the volunteers would become a target for government troops

Francesco Molinari wins British Open at Carnoustie

It is his first win at a major and the first by an Italian

Recovery high schools could help teens before addiction takes hold: B.C. parents

Schools could provide mental health supports and let parents discuss their children’s drug use openly

Haida Gwaii village faces housing crisis, targets short-term rentals

Housing is tight and the village is pretty close to zero vacancy

Evacuation numbers remain at nearly 1,000 as B.C. wildfires rage on

200 firefighters and 18 helicopters were working to increase the containment of the fires

Most Read