In 2017, Crown prosecutors took over handling first-appearance bail hearings within the 24-hour timeline required by the Criminal Code of Canada. In its 2016 Jordan ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada imposed new maximum time limits for concluding trials – 18 months in provincial courts and 30 months for Court of Queen’s Bench.
In examining the processes for managing timelines for bail hearings and meeting the timelines under Jordan, the Auditor General determined Alberta Justice and Solicitor General has adequately designed systems and processes to manage both, but there is room for improvement.
The audit found:
- In 2019, 11 per cent of the 45,719 bail hearings held in Alberta exceeded the 24-hour limit.
- The Alberta Crown Prosecution Service (ACPS) has worked with other stakeholders to set new target processing times, and produces weekly and monthly reports on the percentage of bail files exceeding the 24-hour limit. However, ACPS has not done a detailed results analysis since May 2019, nor it does appear to have evaluated the effectiveness of changes it has made to fix problems in the bail hearing process.
- Between October 2016 and March 2020 there were 267 Jordan applications filed in Alberta courts. Of those, 66 cases had to be withdrawn or stayed, including charges involving first degree murder, serious sexual assaults, child pornography, fraud and drug trafficking.
- ACPS has the processes to track, report and analyze cases nearing or exceeding the Jordan timelines, but the audit found no evidence that it has done so or scheduled any similar analysis since June 2019.
“Improving these processes is important to prevent criminal charges being dismissed by the courts because of preventable delays to bail hearings or trials not being completed within the Jordan time limits,” Wylie said.