A stable and efficient IT environment is essential to the conduct of court operations, the management of court documents and the provision of judicial and registry services to the courts and their users. The systems which support the judicial process– including the electronic filing, electronic scanning and digital audio recording (DARS) – are highly dependent on the IT infrastructure that supports them. In 2016–17, CAS continued to implement its multi-year IT infrastructure management plan to address outstanding rust-out, enhance the IT infrastructure required by the Courts and lay a solid foundation for the implementation of a Courts Registry Management System (CRMS), when funding permits.
The Courts are national and itinerant, holding hearings in every province and territory through a network of 13 permanent offices and through agreements with eight provincial and territorial courts. The headquarters of the Federal Court of Appeals, the Federal Court, the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada and the Tax Court of Canada are all located in Ottawa and serve the respective Chief Justices, Associate Chief Justice and members of each court. These offices also house the judicial services supporting each court, as well as the registrars of each court which provide direction and guidance to all offices across Canada.
The Courts require a range of special purpose space to conduct their business, including courtrooms, chambers, mediation rooms, alternative dispute resolution rooms, boardrooms, libraries and workspace for judicial and registry staff. The CAS National Accommodation Strategic Plan outlines a 10-year strategy for requirements across Canada to inform decision making and facilitate coordination with federal, provincial and territorial partners.
In order to preserve judicial independence, members of the courts, employees and court users must be able to conduct business in an environment free from fear, harassment and intimidation. As such, a safe and secure environment is fundamental to the effective functioning of the Canadian justice system. To that end, in 2016–17, CAS implemented physical security enhancements in its facilities across Canada. CAS also focused on making improvements to IT security to protect the information held by the Courts and ensure continuity of operations.
Much of the work undertaken at CAS requires specialized skills and strong knowledge of the legal/judicial environment, as well as technical knowledge in the respective field of each Court. To meet its human resources requirements and have the right people in the right place at the right time today and for the future, CAS developed a new three-year integrated HR plan in 2016–17.
In terms of diversity and employment equity, CAS’ employees reflect the changing composition of the Canadian workforce. The 2016–17 Management Accountability Framework (MAF) report revealed that for the four designated employment equity groups, CAS exceeds the MAF average for women (64.4% versus 60.94%), persons with disabilities (5.8% versus 5.77%) and visible minorities (16.8% versus 13.81%), but is below the MAF average for Aboriginal peoples (3.1% versus 4.09%).
In 2016–17, CAS focused on succession planning. CAS has a mature workforce with minimal age differences between junior and senior level employees. While the average age of the CAS workforce is 45.1. Approximately 153 (24%) of indeterminate employees are eligible to retire within the next five years. Eighteen of these 153 positions (12%) have been identified as key positions where any vacancy would pose an operational challenge.