2020-21 Departmental Plan - Operating context
A number of factors may affect the PPSC's ability to fully achieve its mandate and meet its prosecutorial obligations. A main consideration is that the PPSC does not determine the number or types of cases referred to it for prosecution by the police and investigative agencies. The PPSC workload is largely based on the decisions of these agencies regarding investigative priorities, tactics and resource allocations. As a result, changes in the allocation of enforcement resources may affect the nature and volume of the PPSC's caseload. PPSC senior management will continue to monitor the capacity levels of legal staff in order to ensure that their workload is efficiently aligned.
An additional challenge to prosecution work is the Supreme Court of Canada's 2016 R. v. Jordan decision, which set out a presumptive ceiling for determining whether a prosecution is completed within a reasonable time (namely, 18 months from the time charges are laid to the actual or anticipated end of a trial in cases proceeding before provincial court, or 30 months for cases proceeding before superior court).
The PPSC has always placed a priority on ensuring that cases are prosecuted in a principled and timely manner, which includes building upon existing practices and policies relating to file management. Since the R. v. Jordan decision was issued, the PPSC formalized specific measures in the PPSC Deskbook, which contains directives and guidelines that must be followed by all federal prosecutors and Crown agents in the exercise of their prosecutorial discretion. The PPSC will continue to identify prosecutions at risk of exceeding the presumptive ceilings, develop suitable mitigation strategies and implement national best practices.
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