The Saint-Jean-Baptiste long weekend ended with frustration for judges sitting on the Tribunal Administratif du Quebec(TAQ). As this article outlines, TAQ judges recently walked out on labour negotiations with the government. In early May, nine out of the ten judges tasked with coordinating the negotiations resigned from their administrative duties. Presently, the matter is before the Quebec Court of Appeal, which has just authorized the government to present a position paper by August 1st.
The TAQ dispute is the most recent in an increasingly long list involving actors in the Quebec justice system and the Quebec government. Just one week ago, the Quebec government and the Association des jurists de l'Etat (a union which represents government-employed lawyers and other legal professionals) effectively ended their labour dispute by ratifying an agreement reached in principle last year. These actors voted 85% in favour of an agreement that sought to raise their compensation in line with the Canadian average. Prior to that, a bitter dispute between Crown Prosecutors and the government ended with the government conceding to a 20% pay increase for the Crown Prosecutors in exchange for these actors relinquishing their right to strike.
Amid these grievances, Quebec judges have also been quietly lobbying for increased remuneration. In March of last year, a judicial compensation committee comprised of legal and financial experts recommended a modest pay increase for provincially appointed judges. As this article states, there have been four such compensation committees since 1998 (excluding this latest one). The Quebec government, for its part, has been largely unresponsive to such recommendations and, in the process, has strained its relationship with actors in the Province's legal system. The government has founded its reluctance on a platform of fiscal restraint.
In light of the above, perhaps it is no surprise that pay lies at the root of the TAQ judges' discontent. Citing the growing discrepancy between their remuneration and that of provincially appointed judges, the judges are demanding the...