File shot of Winnipeg law courts.
Credits: QMI AGENCY FILES
WINNIPEG -- A program intended to speed up Manitoba's court system won't be renewed because it failed to produce results.
A six-month program using provincial judges to preside over bail court on Saturdays saw 726 accused appear on the docket between Jan. 7 and July 7, 2012, according to Manitoba Justice.
The pilot program didn't make the system more efficient, so a provincial court chief judge decided not to extend it.
"The goal of the pilot was to increase the number of bail applications on Saturdays," said Judge Kenneth Champagne in an e-mail. "Unfortunately, the statistics collected throughout the project demonstrated that there was no increase in the number of bail applications from those heard by a judicial justice of the peace."
Weekend bail court sittings in front of a judicial justice of the peace will continue as usual.
An Access to Information request about the amount spent on these bail courts was denied on the grounds its budget can't be separated from the overall budget.
But a Manitoba Courts spokeswoman said the program required a significant amount of tax dollars, since judge-led hearings include court clerks, security and other staff.
"Saturday bail court in front of a judge doesn't just mean you add a judge," Aimee Fortier said.
Manitoba Justice Minister Andrew Swan could not be reached for comment on Friday or Monday.
A spokeswoman from the ministry said Swan wrote to Champagne about his concerns with the end of the program. She refused to elaborate on what those concerns were.
"I think it's safe to say that everyone involved is disappointed the weekend court didn't work out, but this was a pilot project -- the first of its kind in the country," stated the e-mail.