Training that keeps moving forward

As our world constantly evolves, so too does the justice system. To keep judges in step with this ever-shifting landscape, the Council partners with organizations such as the National Judicial Institute.

Message from the Chair

When I became a judge, I knew that the public would turn to me for leadership and stability. Litigants expect judges to be fair and to embody the highest standards of personal and professional conduct and I expected that of myself. As Chief Justice of Canada, I am honoured to chair the Canadian Judicial Council and to have the opportunity to enhance public confidence in the judicial system.

All judges are here to serve the cause of justice in Canada. Canadians want to be reassured that their judges know the law and can do their job with empathy and fairness.

Through a rigorous program of ongoing professional development, judges of Canada’s Superior Courts have access to the best education available. Programs offered through the National Judicial Institute and other partners allow judges to know about the latest developments in the law. Courses are developed and delivered in a way that reflects Canada’s diversity. The Canadian Judicial Council has taken leadership since the early 1990’s to require social context education in its programs. This ensures that judges – and in particular newly appointed judges – are aware of the challenges faced by vulnerable groups in society. Social context education provides judges with the necessary skills to ensure that myths and stereotypes do not influence judicial decision-making.

The Canadian Judicial Council wants to ensure Canadians have up-to-date knowledge about all aspects of judicial education. Public confidence in the judiciary demands no less. I hope you will find useful the information presented here.

The Right Honourable Richard Wagner, P.C.

An overview of judicial training

Judges serve as the crucial link between citizens and the Canadian justice system. It’s a responsibility that requires them to respect high standards of conduct, understand the laws, recognise changes in their society, be introspective, act fairly and equitably, and remain open-minded. Canadians deserve no less!

In order to meet the expectations of all Canadians, federally appointed judges rely on comprehensive and diverse training. By spearheading these training initiatives, the Council plays a big part in improving judicial services and ensuring judges remain fair and equitable.

In the interest of transparency to the Canadian public, the Council publishes a list of courses, seminars, and other events that were held during the year. By making this information accessible to the public, the Council gives Canadians the opportunity to understand its many judicial training initiatives as well as the seriousness with which it takes its mission.

The Council believes that continuing education is the cornerstone of an accessible, efficient, and forward-thinking justice system.

Basic principles supporting the training of judges

Through the ongoing training of judges, the Council aims to maintain the confidence Canadians have in the justice system’s key players and ensure judges remain worthy of this trust.

For training initiatives to remain cutting-edge, certain principles must guide those building and disseminating these tools. For the Council, this principle is to uphold the highest quality standards of judicial services rendered in Canadian superior courts.

Council has developed professional development policies and guidelines which set out what is expected of judges.

What is the relationship between judicial independence and professional development?

Judicial independence is a fundamental principle of our justice system. It stipulates that judges must make decisions with integrity and impartiality, free from the pressure of external influences.

Training sessions provided to judges must therefore serve the interests of justice alone and not that of external forces, governmental or otherwise.

The Council's continuing-education approach to training is designed to assure the public that those making judicial decisions are educated, knowledgeable, and adhere to the highest standards of conduct.

Who determines which training courses judges take?

The Canadian Judicial Council issues professional development and mentoring requirements, but each judge is responsible for their own training.

For newly appointed judges, several local courts offer their own continuing education programs. These courts can work with the National Judicial Institute to develop training tools.

For the first five years following their appointment to the bench, newly appointed judges are required to follow educational and training programs set out in their professional development plan, which includes the “Judges in their first five years” program. Chief Justices organize the participation of newly appointed judges in programs subject to the needs of the court.

Moreover, newly appointed judges are required to take national training modules designed for new judges along with any other professional development training programs consigned by their Chief Justice or designate.

What factors determine the launch of a new training program?

Each year, the National Judicial Institute evaluates all training programs. If a learning gap is identified, the Canadian Judicial Council, through its Judicial Education Committee, collects proposals from organizations and assesses their relevance.

With respect to programs offered by local courts, the chief justice of each court is responsible for identifying the need for new training courses. He or she can count on the support of the Institute for the development and planning of new programs.

What does the training cover?

Training covers everything from judicial procedures to a better knowledge of the communities that make up Canada. The topics of these courses are renewed constantly.

Course Details