Montréal, April 24, 2018 – The Government of Québec will implement a project of unprecedented magnitude to transform the justice system. The plan to modernize the justice system will increase the its effectiveness in a sustainable way and reduce court delays, among other advantages. With this plan, the government is acting to implement a more innovative and efficient justice system for the benefit of all Quebecers.
Stéphanie Vallée, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Québec, noted that this major project will result in numerous actions that will require the collaboration of employees and all partners in the justice system to ensure the project’s full success.
She stressed that the transformation will not only be technological: the essence of the project remains above all an optimization of practices at all stages of the judicial process. This transformation will be made possible through cultural changes and new practices that will be supported by new technologies.
The plan to modernize the justice system represents an investment of $500 million over the next five years. This sum is added to the $175.2 million announced in December 2016, for a total investment of $675.2 million.
Introducing innovative practices
The transformation of the justice system will begin with the introduction of innovative practices with a view to causing a cultural shift. A number of measures focused on efficiency, equity and the collaboration of partners will be deployed over the next two years.
Measures are planned to operate upstream of the justice system in order to ease congestion in the courts. One of them, based on a pilot project, is the alternative measures program, which will allow an accused adult who accepts responsibility for an offence to repair the damage caused by performing community service, among other options.
An important part of the plan will be the implementation of a single legal information access point, which will become a reference for the people of Québec. This platform will guide them by presenting personalized options and providing them with support in their legal process.
In addition, the videoconferencing service between courthouses and detention facilities will be improved to reduce the movement of inmates and make lawyers more accessible to their clients. This measure will not only enhance communications, it will have a significant impact on the safety and efficiency of the justice system.
Other measures promoting dialogue between parties will be implemented, such as the quick settlement offer, which takes into consideration the importance of public interest as early as the first appearance before the court. With this proposal, the accused will have the option to accept a normal sentence for the context in exchange for a guilty plea in order to avoid delays and additional costs. Subsequent offers will be less generous.
Beyond the changes in methods, the justice system will integrate new technologies to meet citizens’ present-day needs.
The acquisition of a commercial software package will improve the administration of justice services. Once implemented, this software package will make it possible to offer online services to the various stakeholders in the system, electronically manage court records and hold paperless hearings. The flow of information will also be optimized in order to limit travel and procedures.
The plan also includes the modernization of the Ministère de la Justice’s technological infrastructure, which is essential to creating the foundations required to support the transformation project. This modernization will ensure reliable telecommunications, for example to support the presentation of evidence during trials and to have sufficient storage capacity for all components of court records, which will now be stored electronically.
The start-up phase for the implementation of the technology package will take place between now and 2020, at the same time as the infrastructure is modernized and innovative practices are implemented. Thereafter, the software package will be implemented in stages.
More effective communication
The software package implementation will be accompanied by two other projects that will promote the fluid exchange of information between stakeholders.
The Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions will implement GESTE, a project that will allow for information exchanges with the police, prosecutor file management and disclosure of evidence, all through electronic means.
The Ministère de la Sécurité publique will implement DACOR 2.0, a project that will fully computerize correctional files. Each partner will be responsible for planning and completing their own project and will be accountable for it.
Recognizing the project’s magnitude, the Minister stressed that the transformation project’s governance will be exemplary and based on best practices in this field.
To this end, the project will meet the management measures set out in the Act to reinforce the governance and management of the information resources of public bodies and government enterprises. Each step will be subject to approval.
The project will be monitored by four auditors from the Ministère de la Justice, the Secrétariat du Conseil du trésor, the Ministère des finances and an external firm.
The acquisition strategy, which includes a competitive dialogue process, will ensure that risks are shared and the winning supplier is accountable for the project, in particular with respect to costs and deadlines.
Special attention will be paid to the deployment strategy in order to minimize the impact on the justice system’s day-to-day operations and maintain the performance of implemented systems.
Today is a great day for justice. With this project to transform the justice system, we will provide Quebecers with a more accessible, more efficient and more innovative justice system. It will be a system in which processes are optimized and modern technological tools replace paper to save time and money. It is a remarkable project, which will give Quebecers the justice system they desire and the one they deserve.
– Stéphanie Vallée, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Québec