In R v Jordan 2016 SCC 27 the Supreme Court of Canada held that adult criminal cases decided in the provincial courts must be concluded within 18 months. Otherwise, the accused person’s rights under s. 11(b) of the Charter will have been violated and a stay of proceedings may be granted.
But Jordan was an adult and the case said nothing about whether or not a different time frame should apply to youth cases. Since the release of Jordan, different youth justice courts across Canada have wrestled with this question. Most have avoided answering it directly. Until now.
In R v D.A. 2018 ONCJ 143 the Ontario Youth Court of Justice held that a 12 month ceiling for youth cases should apply. The Court applied s. 3(1)(b) of the YCJA which states youth court proceedings should be addressed with “promptness and speed… given young persons’ perception of time”. The Court also looked to the pre-Jordan case law which held that generally speaking a 5-6 guideline appropriate (after an intake period) was appropriate for youth cases, as opposed to an 8-10 month guideline: see, for example, R v M. (G.C.), 1991 CanLII 7057 (ON CA)).
This is the first reported decision to clearly establish a lower ceiling for youth cases than adult cases. It will be interesting to see if other courts in other provinces adopt this approach.