Departmental Plan 2020–21

Supplementary Information

Raison d’être

The Courts Administration Service (CAS) was established on July 2, 2003, with the coming into force of the Courts Administration Service Act, S.C. 2002, c. 8 (CAS Act). CAS’s raison d’être is to provide administrative services to four superior courts of record — the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA), the Federal Court (FC), the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada (CMAC) and the Tax Court of Canada (TCC) — the Courts. Placing administrative services at arm’s length from the Government of Canada safeguards judicial independence and enhances accountability for the use of public money. CAS recognizes the independence of the Courts in the conduct of their own affairs and aims to provide each with quality and efficient judicial, registry, and administrative services.

Mandate and role

As stated in section 2 of the CAS Act, CAS is mandated to:

  • facilitate coordination and cooperation among the FCA, the FC, the CMAC and the TCC for the purpose of ensuring the effective and efficient provision of administrative services;
  • enhance judicial independence by placing administrative services at arm’s length from the Government of Canada and by affirming the roles of Chief Justices and judges in the management of the Courts; and
  • enhance accountability for the use of public money in support of court administration while safeguarding the independence of the judiciary.

Operating context and key risks

Operating context

In 2020–21, the environment within which CAS operates will remain complex and challenging, owing in part to the following.

Judicial Independence

Judicial independence is a cornerstone of the Canadian judicial system. Under the Constitution, the judiciary is separate from and independent of the executive and legislative branches. Judicial independence is a guarantee that judges will make decisions free of influence and based solely on facts and law. It has three components: security of tenure, financial security and administrative independence. Safeguarding the principle of judicial independence is a key operational consideration for CAS when providing services to the Courts, as well as in supporting the roles of the Chief Justices and judges in the management of the Courts.

Distinct requirements of the Courts

Services required by the judiciary — including registries, hearing-related activities, legal counsel, judicial administrators, law clerks, jurilinguists, judicial assistants, library personnel and court attendants — are provided as directed by the Chief Justices. The national and itinerant nature of the Courts also requires CAS to provide support to members of the Courts and deliver court and registry services in various locations across the country. As such, the individual and unique requirements of each of the Courts, the distinct nature of the Courts’ business, and the characteristics of the Canadian judicial system, are all factors that CAS must consider when delivering services to the Courts.

Volume and complexity of cases before the Courts

The volume of cases before the Courts is a key factor for the level of support required from CAS, particularly in terms of registry and judicial services. This volume can be somewhat unpredictable, as changes in legislation and regulations, policy decisions, as well as precedents from judgements can all influence the number of cases submitted before the Courts. In addition, the nature and increasing complexity of the cases filed can considerably impact the workloads of the Courts and registries, particularly in those related to national security, intellectual property, Aboriginal claims, taxation and immigration — which can exacerbate pressures on staff, including judicial and registry support.

Demands for e-services and e-courts

Today, people routinely conduct business online and demand the same services from the government as they receive from private sector organizations. Emerging technologies and new trends in providing e-services are key considerations for CAS in its service delivery and systems. Therefore, CAS will move forward with the transition to a digital environment where members of the Courts, litigants, lawyers and the public can access court services electronically. This will also allow CAS employees to deliver judicial, registry and administrative services digitally.

Service delivery capacity

CAS’s ability to provide the required level of mandated services to meet the operational needs of the Courts, as well as associated services to litigants and their legal counsel, is dependent on available financial and human resources. CAS will continue with its efforts to ensure that the organization has in place the resources necessary to deliver the level of mandated services required by the Courts.


CAS’s ability to provide the level of mandated services required by the Courts also depends on the strength of its workforce. 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 jurisdictions of the Courts. Given the unique skill sets required, CAS must often compete with other courts across Canada or other federal departments to attract and retain skilled employees. Additionally, CAS has a mature workforce, which necessitates having succession planning, talent management and knowledge management strategies in place.

Key Risks

CAS has in place a risk management process through which corporate risk profiles are developed and used annually to create an Enterprise Risk Management Framework for the fiscal year. This process is applied consistently throughout CAS and engages the most senior levels of the organization — the Chief Justices of the Courts, the Departmental Audit Committee, the Executive Committee, and the Senior Management Committee — in the identification and evaluation of the most pertinent risks for the organization, and the determination of appropriate response strategies to effectively manage these risks. Assigned risk owners are responsible for monitoring risks and the effectiveness of mitigation strategies, and presenting quarterly reports to the Executive Committee.

The following outlines the critical drivers, potential impacts and most significant risk response strategies for each of the key corporate risks identified for 2020–21.

Access to Justice

There is a risk that the funding model for the Courts could compromise access to justice and impact the judicial independence of the Courts.

This risk is driven by funding model for the Courts and CAS that is not responsive to emerging needs. While CAS received program integrity and in-year funding were secured in budget 2017 and 2018, without a funding model that can accommodate future needs, there remains a risk that CAS may revert into program integrity. To respond this risk, CAS will continue to engage the Courts and central agencies to identify an appropriate funding model for the Courts and CAS.

Organizational transformation and Change Management

There is a risk that employee resistance and/or a lack of resources with the necessary skill sets and competencies to adapt to a new operating environment will impede the achievement of organizational objectives.

Many factors are driving this risk, including the need for a robust change management; shortage of change management expertise and need for such training for management and staff; training shortage of specialized skillsets required to meet the needs of the Courts and CAS; technological advancements and rapidly evolving service standards impacting expectations of the Courts and their stakeholders.

To respond to this risk, special consideration will be placed on change management. This will include a variety of activities to help employees understand, commit to, accept, and embrace changes in their work environment. It will also emphasize the importance of changes being implemented to help employees better understand the reasons for change, management’s expectations, the resulting benefits, and their role in adopting and sustaining change.

Courts and Registry Management System

There is a risk that system applications and infrastructure will be unable to respond to the evolving requirements of the Courts, litigants and CAS, impacting service delivery efficiency and access to justice.

Many factors are driving this risk including the growing public demand for the digital transformation of the court and registry management systems and access to new technology in conducting business with the Courts. Other notable drivers include the insufficiency of specialized resources to implement important IT projects and to support the transition to electronic courts; incompatibility of new technology with existing; the results of various assessments of CAS’s network architecture and computing environment; and the different governance regime for judicial information. These drivers pose serious limitations on CAS in trying to meet the evolving program needs.

As part of its risk response strategies, CAS will move forward with the acquisition and preparation for a new CRMS. IT network infrastructure enhancements will also be undertaken to prepare for the new CRMS.

Information Management

There is a risk of loss, damage or inability to access records of business value or historical jurisprudence which, may in turn, impact decision-making.

A confluence of drivers continues to propel this risk. The most prescient drivers are: stringent rules and regulations regarding the safeguard of court documents; need for classification schemes to define court and judicial information, including security and handling methods; need to improve management of corporate data/information; absence of backup for paper court records; lack of resources to safeguard original document in an alternative format; the potential impact of loss of information of business value; the precedent-setting nature and historical importance of information held by CAS; repeated public demands for e-services and the corresponding need to share information electronically; inability of current systems to meet evolving IM needs; delays in addressing identified system gaps; and the need implementation of CAS’s document management system to operational areas.

Risk response strategies include the rigorous application of corporate information management practices including retention and disposition schedules; analyzing options to digitize court records; and onboard other operational areas and the regional offices to its corporate document management system. Additionally, CAS will continue to ensure suitable conditions for storing archived court documents, including space for storing and archiving hard copy court documents.

IT Security

There is a risk that the security of information and IT infrastructure could be compromised.

CAS’s IT Security risk is driven by the increase in the number of National Security and other files that are sensitive and potentially attractive to outside actors — including immigration, taxation and intellectual property; the ongoing need for enabling infrastructure and tools to support security, confidentiality, integrity and privacy of information; demands of the Government of Canada’s new National Cyber Security Strategy; the need to protect the safety and security of the critical infrastructure of the Courts and CAS; repeated calls for e-service in doing business with the Courts; results of various assessments of CAS’s network architecture and computing environment; and emergence of new technology (including Artificial Intelligence and quantum computing).

The materialization of this risk could have serious consequences for the Courts and CAS including a substantial and unfavourable impact on access to justice; inability to meet the organizational strategic outcome and priorities; inability to meet the standards of the Policy on Government Security and erosion of CAS’s reputation and reduced confidence of Canadians.

The most critical risk response strategies remain the implementation of plans to improve IT security; maintain sound network access controls; and support the Government of Canada’s National Cyber Security Strategy.

Physical Security

There is a risk that the physical security of the members of Courts, court users, employees and facilities could be compromised

Increases in number of national security files; upturn in the number of self-represented litigants; demands on limited resources will continue to drive this risk in 2020–21.

To respond to this risk, CAS will put in place the necessary measures to address findings of the latest threat and risk assessment; continue to implement comprehensive security programs; make enhancements to the physical security of facilities where required; keep its business continuity plans updated; and continue to adopt strategic risk-based approaches to security management. CAS will also maintain ongoing collaboration with the law enforcement community across Canada to inform strategic security decisions and strengthen services provided to the Courts.

Gender based analysis plus

General information
Governance structures

CAS is committed to utilize Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) in the development of policies, programs and initiatives, including consideration of differentiated impacts on diverse groups of women, men and non-binary people.

The accountability mechanisms that ensure that GBA+ is integrated into departmental decision-making processes at CAS is as follows:

  • The CAS Executive Committee, headed by the Chief Administrator is responsible for the approval of CAS GBA+ policies, frameworks, procedures and action plans.
  • The Strategic Planning, Communications and Corporate Secretariat Directorate is responsible developing, monitoring and implementing a framework and practices of GBA+.
Human resources
  • Executives are required to continue to support CAS’s commitments to GBA+ and building a diverse public service.
Planned initiatives

In 2020–21 CAS will undertake the following planned initiatives in support of GBA+:

  • Continue work to establish a comprehensive GBA+ framework and Departmental Action Plan for CAS to strengthen the use of GBA+ as a key tool in informing decision making.
  • Conduct GBA+ analysis as part of all Budget requests and Treasury Board Submissions.
  • Pursue inclusivity and diversity as a priority of the new strategic HR plan.
  • Continue to maintain and promote articles promoting GBA+ in the “Positive Space” section of the employees Insight Magazine — a quarterly online publication.
  • Continue to take into consideration lessons learned and best practices from other federal government departments and agencies and contribute to CAS’s capacity to learn about, apply and report on the organization’s GBA+ activities.
Reporting capacity and data

Not Applicable. CAS does not collect microdata for GBA+ analysis purposes.

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