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JUST Committee Report

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As a result of their deliberations, committees may make recommendations which they include in their reports for the consideration of the House of Commons or the Government. Recommendations related to this study are listed below.

Recommendation 1 – Information Package

That the Minister of Justice encourage provinces and territories to make available a complete and up-to-date information package about jury duty for prospective and selected jurors. This package should be available in both English and French and, where appropriate, in Indigenous and other languages. It should be drafted in clear and simple language. This package should be made publicly available, including through electronic means.

The package should contain information on:

a)      the role and responsibilities of jurors;

b)      the compensation provided;

c)       the legal concepts and mechanics of the trial process or the inquest;

d)      the deliberations process, including tools to help jurors manage interpersonal conflict;

e)      what jurors can do if they have questions about the evidence or the instructions from the judge;

f)       the potential impact that jury duty can have on mental health, as well as the symptoms of stress jurors could experience during and after the legal proceedings as well as what symptoms are normal and which require consultation with a mental health professional;

g)      how the juror can contact a mental health professional for assistance post-trial or inquest; and

h)      coping mechanisms to deal with stress and potentially traumatic evidence and testimony, the importance of self-care, and strategies jurors can use to help them feel better.

This package should be shared with the jury pool in the initial notice sent out to potential jurors. When jurors are selected, the information package should be handed to them by the clerk or other court officials and reviewed with them so that it is fully understood.

Recommendation 2 – Debriefing Sessions

That the Minister of Justice encourage the provinces and territories to implement a policy that would ensure that, after their jury service has ended, jurors be offered a debriefing session. The format of these sessions, including the person who will facilitate them and the time allocated to them, should be left to the discretion of judicial officials.

Recommendation 3 – Psychological Support

That the Minister of Justice encourage the provinces and territories to offer a psychological support and counselling program to all jurors after their jury service has ended.

The program should not provide any predetermine time limit for jurors to access the services.

The number of free sessions should be left to the discretion of a mental health professional.

Counselling sessions should be available in both official languages and, where possible, in Indigenous languages or the juror’s preferred language.

Recommendation 4 – A More Lenient Secrecy Rule for Jury Deliberations

That the Government of Canada amend section 649 of the Criminal Code so that jurors are permitted to discuss jury deliberations with designated mental health professionals once the trial is over.

Recommendation 5 – Daily Allowance

That the Minister of Justice encourage the provinces and territories to offer jurors a daily allowance for services rendered of at least $120 throughout the legal proceedings which should be adjusted to reflect cost of living increases.

Recommendation 6 – Compensation for Related Costs

That the Minister of Justice encourage the provinces and territories to offer jurors compensation to cover the costs associated with serving as a juror, such as the cost of care for dependent children or adults, travel, parking and meals.

Recommendation 7 – Optimal Physical Environment for Jurors

That the Minister of Justice encourage the provinces and territories to minimize casual interactions between jurors and other participants in the proceedings outside the courtroom to reduce the potential for intimidation and awkwardness. Some of the initiatives may include special parking spaces and access to the courthouse and courtroom. The general comfort of jurors should also be considered. Rooms should be sufficiently large and well lit, and include areas where jurors can be alone to recharge, if necessary.

Recommendation 8 – Funding to the National Judicial Institute

That the Government of Canada provide funding to the National Judicial Institute to develop training designed to increase judicial awareness of the mental health needs of jurors.

Recommendation 9 – Increasing Awareness

That the Minister of Justice encourage the provinces and territories to support training programs aimed at increasing awareness among judges, coroners and judicial officials who interact with jurors, such as sheriffs and bailiffs, of the potential impact of legal proceedings on the mental health of jurors in order to ensure an environment that is more responsive to their mental health needs.

Recommendation 10 – Federal Funding

That the Government of Canada provide funding on a one-time basis to the provinces and territories to cover some of the costs resulting from the implementation of the recommendations set out in this report.

Recommendation 11– Sharing the Findings and Recommendations of the Committee

That the Minister of Justice, at the earliest opportunity, share the practices recommended in this report with the Minister’s provincial and territorial counterparts during the next meeting of the federal-provincial-territorial ministers responsible for justice and public safety.