In the largest recorded meeting of Quebec attorneys to date, the Association of Prosecutors in Criminal and Penal Prosecutions of Quebec (APCPP) voted Saturday in favour of a mandate to strike if the provincial government does not meet their demands.
According to the APCPP, Quebec prosecutors are the lowest paid in the country, receiving thirty per cent less than the national average.
“We’re unhappy because there’s a pay scale that hasn’t really changed in a long time in spite of promises to fix it over the last ten years,” said APCPP spokesperson, J.D. Jerols.
“We’re in a position where we’re losing competent attorneys… They’re going…to Alberta and Ontario and…taking early retirement. … It’s impossible to hire new attorneys with experience,” he added.
The APCPP claims that without an additional 150 to 200 prosecutors, they are unable to devote sufficient time to each case, creating significant ethical issues. “If it’s your daughter that was sexually assaulted or your wife that was beaten and robbed or your son who was the victim of fraud then you want to expect the prosecutor to be top quality,” said Jerols.
A group representing Quebec jurors, the Association of Government Jurors, voiced similar concerns and has formed an allegiance with the APCPP. Jerols said the two groups have agreed that neither will settle for a lower salary than the other.
There is also a possibility that the two will strike together, which will cause significant delays in the Quebec legal system.
In the event of a strike, all cases not involving a detained individual or a jury will be postponed.
While the Association of Government Jurors has voted in favour of a strike, the APCPP feels differently.
“We would like to avoid a strike,” said Jerols,
Unlike jurors, prosecutors are not granted the right to binding arbitration, a process that allows the conflict to be resolved by a neutral party.