February 15, 2013

No wonder many Canadians skip jury duty

Filed under: Cancon, Law — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:18

I’ve only ever been summoned for jury duty once, and that was about 20 years ago (I was lucky to not be in the pool for the Homolka case, which was in the courts at that time). I showed up on Monday morning, sat around reading my book for a couple of hours, then was dismissed. Repeat on Tuesday and Wednesday, then we were told our services wouldn’t be needed for the rest of the week. I was lucky not to lose any pay for performing my “civic duty” thanks to my employer-of-the-time, but most people are not so fortunate:

Let’s talk about jury duty. That much-despised civic responsibility in which we are asked to play a role in one of the world’s best justice systems.

Being summoned is viewed by many as an unwelcome interruption of their daily lives and, often, a punishing financial burden. It is ignored by hundreds, if not thousands, of Canadian every year.

And why? Well, most suggest a mix of lost wages and low compensation plays a role in it. Not to mention the hassle of having to listen to people talk all day long. But is it really worth chasing and punishing those who refuse to serve? And if so, shouldn’t something be done to make serving less punishing?

How bad is the pay? Pretty bad indeed:

Those selected to serve on jury duty have no protection from lost wages, although their employer is legally mandated to give them time off. And the compensation they receive is minimal.

So how much do jurors get paid? It is not a lot.

In Nova Scotia, jurors receive $40 a day plus mileage. Ontario pays jurors $40 a day once they have served more than 10 days, and $100 for every day over 49.

Alberta provides $50 per day of service, as well as travel expenses and possibly accommodations. The Northwest Territories gratefully pays $80 per day.

Quebec jury members get a much more generous deal:

Quebec residents called to participate in jury selection receive the cost of public transit or mileage and parking costs. They can also receive more than $45 for meals and as much as $138 to cover overnight accommodations.

Those selected to be a juror receive $103 for every day of the hearing and deliberations. That amount increases to $160 on the 57th day of service.

There are bonuses for working into the night and for Sundays and holidays, childcare allowances and psychological therapy after the trial.

H/T to Bob Tarantino for the link.

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