Court Administrative Services members discuss their work, the new normal and other issues with National President

On August 12, USJE National President David Neufeld and Regional Vice-President–NCR Jean-Paul Surette met with front-line members at the Court Administrative Services (CAS) in Toronto to discuss their important work in the courts system across Canada. The tour was facilitated by USJE Local 70125 President, Jena Russell.

USJE Local 70125 has members working in Courts locations across Canada, providing administrative support by preparing files, conducting hearings and communicating decisions. Members administer and support the Federal Court of Appeal, Federal Court, Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada and the Tax Court of Canada, with headquarters in Ottawa. Work sites include:

  • 57 courtrooms across the country;
  • Judicial and registry services in every province and territory through a network of 13 permanent offices and agreements with seven provincial and territorial courts;
  • Regional offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal;
  • Local offices in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Québec City, Halifax, Fredericton and St. John’s.

The Court Administrative Services adapted during the pandemic by shifting many services online and to virtual hearings. The current employee footprint at the Toronto office is around 50%. Members shared how their work transitioned to remote work and how telework should remain as part of the “new normal”. Members were largely satisfied with the rotation of opportunities to work off-site, though a number mentioned that it was more efficient for them to work on-site, and that they had worked on-site throughout the pandemic. The Director General, Imtiaz Rajab, took time to speak with the USJE representatives about the working conditions at the Toronto office, and confirmed that telework is here to stay.

Despite this, the Local continues to have concerns about the Health and Safety of employees, as well as staffing concerns. Future workplace assessments are being arranged to help address these issues. Many members mentioned that they encounter direct or vicarious trauma in their work: directly with clients or in files they review during their duties. The workers also face significant risk when meeting with clients face-to-face, as indicated by the use of bulletproof glass at the front counter. President Neufeld informed members that USJE is currently lobbying the federal government to make changes to presumptive injury definitions so that our trauma-injured members may be covered by presumptive injury legislation.

The USJE representatives also spoke to members about the importance of getting involved in their union. With PSAC currently at impasse in bargaining with Treasury Board, it’s crucial for members to get involved, and to stay connected with USJE through our website, newsletter, and social media channels. Local 70125 has done an excellent job communicating with their members to ensure that they are aware of the Local and who to contact regarding workplace issues.

Thank you to Jena Russell for arranging the tour, and to Imtiaz Rajab, Regional Director for taking the time to speak with President Neufeld and RVP Surette.