Project to help those who serve in juries
Justice Canada is providing funding to support a program for the mental health of those who participate in jury duties in British Columbia.
The government organization is allocating $509,400 over four fiscal years for the Canadian Juries Commission’s project: British Columbia Jury Support Pilot: Jury Duty Peer Support and Mental Health First Aid and Wellness Training for Sheriffs and Court Officers.
“Our government is committed to improving the well-being of Canadians who participate in the justice system. Groups such as the Canadian Juries Commission have done critical work to promote the importance of mental health for people who serve on juries. That is why I am so happy to support their project,” said David Lametti, minister of justice and attorney general of Canada. “The pandemic has impacted the mental health of Canadians and it is important to connect them with the supports and resources they need.”
Under the project, the commission will create two mental health training and support programs for Canadians serving jury duty and pilot them exclusively in British Columbia.
The project will develop and implement mental health first aid and wellness training for BC Sheriffs Service and court staff who manage jurors throughout trials. The training is designed to address jury needs and deliver mental health support directly to jurors in court.
The commission will also establish a Jury Duty Peer Support group which will provide mental health support, workplace resilience and social support for jurors post-trial.
Earlier this year, Ontario said it is investing $6.48 million to strengthen mental health and addiction supports for frontline workers, as well as victims, Indigenous families and youth, involved in the justice system.
“Jury duty is the most important civic duty in our democracy and a responsibility owned by all Canadians,” said Mark Farrant, CEO and founder of the Canadian Juries Commission. “The Canadian Juries Commission is deeply grateful for the support of the Government of Canada and Department of Justice to build mental health programs assisting jurors, in partnership with the Attorney General of British Columbia. It is our duty to support jurors during their service to our justice system.”
In a June 2020 survey, the Canadian Juries Commission found that 18 per cent of Canadians are willing to participate in jury duty. However, former jurors have reported becoming re-traumatized from similar cases in the media, or experiencing trauma from parole-hearings of offenders in their own cases. They often wish there was a support service available to them, according to the federal government.
Forty per cent of Canadians reported that their mental health deteriorated last year, and for those with pre-existing mental health conditions that number rose to 61 per cent, according to the federal government.