Quebec Crown prosecutors hit the bricks

Low pay, overwork among lawyers’ complaints
By Gordon Sova
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 02/08/2011

At midnight on February 7, the 450 criminal prosecutors in the province of Quebec walked off the job over a plea for better pay. Their demands include a 40 per cent wage increase and 200 more colleagues.

Beyond certain essential services, such as bail hearings and trials already in progress, the activities of the criminal courts in Quebec are at a standstill.

They may be followed by 1,000 lawyers employed by the province of Quebec who are members of the Association des juristes de l’État. Their strike deadline is February 8 and no progress was made in the last bargaining meeting with the province on January 26.

In 2001, a study by the Institut de la statistique du Québec found that prosecutors were paid at 32 per cent of the national average. The salary of the most senior Crowns in Quebec is reportedly half of a comparable prosecutor in Ontario.

In 2003, the government gave them the right to strike rather than accept their request for binding arbitration. It was something they hadn’t asked for and don’t want. Since then, they have received small increases legislated by the province.

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