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The Manitoba government is proposing amendments to the Provincial Court Act to enhance continuing education opportunities for judges and to strengthen accountability in the judicial selection process, Justice Minister Cameron Friesen announced today.

“Public confidence in Manitoba’s justice system is critical,” said Friesen. “Earlier this year, the House of Commons enacted legislation to ensure that federally appointed judges receive education about sexual assault. This bill follows a similar approach and supports education opportunities in the area of sexual assault law and social context for judges.”

Judicial training about sexual assault law and social context has been required for candidates for federal appointments to the Court of Appeal and the Court of Queen’s Bench since federal Bill C-3 came into force on May 6, 2021. Bill C-3 also requires judges in all courts to provide reasons for their decisions in sexual assault proceedings. In Manitoba, the majority of sexual assault cases are addressed in the provincial court.

The minister noted that amendments to the Provincial Court Act would require candidates for provincial court judge appointments to agree to training in sexual assault law and social context, and permit the chief judge to establish seminars in these areas. A description of judicial training may be included in the annual report of the provincial court.

The amendments would support key priorities related to training in the area of sexual assault as outlined in Manitoba’s Framework: Addressing Gender-Based Violence , which was released in December 2020.

“This bill also makes improvements to Manitoba’s selection process for judges of the provincial court to better align with best practice in other jurisdictions and to enhance accountability by assuring the full number of judicial applicants receive consideration,” added Friesen.

For judge selection, the minister currently selects a name from a list of three to six candidates that an appointment committee has screened and recommended as suitable. The proposed amendments would require the committee to provide a list to the minister containing an evaluation and brief description of each candidate. This would help ensure decisions are made based on an evaluation of the candidate.

The minister noted the announcement was made during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. To learn more about domestic violence support services in Manitoba, visit www.gov.mb.ca/justice/vs/dvs/dvss/index.html