Disclosure of Expenses claimed under various allowances (for the judges of the SCC)
Canada has three separate and equal branches of state: (a) the Executive branch (i.e. the Prime Minister and Cabinet), which decides policy; (b) the Legislative branch (Parliament, i.e. the House of Commons and the Senate), which debates and passes laws and (c) the Judicial branch, being the courts, which interpret and apply laws once they are passed. Judicial independence is a cornerstone of the Canadian judicial system. That is why, under the Constitution, the Judicial branch is separate from and independent of the other two branches of government. Judicial independence guarantees that judges will be able to make decisions free of influence and based solely on fact and law.
The principle of judicial independence has three components:
Security of tenure: once appointed, a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada is eligible to serve until the mandatory retirement age of 75.
Financial security: judges must be guaranteed sufficient compensation (including salary and pension) so that they are not subjected to pressure for financial considerations.
Administrative independence: No one can interfere with how courts manage the judicial process and exercise their judicial functions. For example, the Chief Justice can decide how cases are assigned to the judges of the Court.
The manner in which judges’ remuneration, pensions, benefits and allowances are administered is set out in the Judges Act, enacted by Parliament.
Under that same act, the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada is responsible for the administration of allowances provided to the judges of the Court under the Judges Act, including the approval of all claims submitted for reimbursement.
Reimbursements must adhere to the following principles: value for money, accountability, transparency, and respect for judicial independence.
Application of the Access to Information Act
Bill C-58, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019, thereby bringing into force important changes to openness and transparency in government. Bill C-58 adds a new part to the Access to Information Act that requires institutions to proactively publish specific information or documents that are known to be of interest to the public and which will provide greater transparency in relation to the use of public funds. These requirements apply, among others, to administrative institutions that support the courts.
The provisions of the Access to Information Act in relation to the institutions that support the courts came into force one year after Royal Assent, namely on June 21, 2020. As a result, the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada is required to publish certain information relating to expenses reimbursed to the judges of the Court as part of the incidental, representational, travel and conference allowances which are made available to them under the Judges Act, within 30 days of the end of the quarter in which expenses are reimbursed. The proactive publication requirement does not extend to information whose disclosure could interfere with the principle of judicial independence, as well as with matters of security and solicitor-client privilege, as determined by the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada. The use, if any, of such an exemption, will nonetheless be indicated and the amounts exempted identified.
This first publication covers reimbursements to judges during the months of April, May and June 2020.
The information on this website will be updated every three months, as of July 31, 2020.
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