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A New and Fair Way of Doing Justice in the Justice System

Posted 4/7/2022

Interpreters are usually a quiet lot. They are professionals and take their work very seriously. However, there was no mechanism to make sure that they had fair and reasonable working conditions. MAG called all the shots and imposed a one-sided set of rules, contained in the so called “Court Interpreter Handbook”. Over the years, our wages were frozen but many rules actually tried to reduce them indirectly. For example, cancellations were sometimes reduced from 6 hours to 3 hours. We had no say and no choice except to accept everything MAG wanted to implement. We worked at $30 an hour when the minimum wage was around 10.25 dollars an hour[1]. We still worked at 30 dollars an hour when the minimum wage was approaching 15 dollars an hour.


Nobody did anything to solve our problems at the Ministry level. Change had to come from us. If we did not take action, we would still be working at the eleven year old rate until the minimum wage became at par with us. It has been nothing but exploitation and utter disregard of our dignity and professionalism.


This one-sided affair kept on going until a new organization showed up on the horizon. PCIO – Professional Court Interpreters of Ontario was created towards the end of 2021. The purpose was to make the working conditions of all interpreters fairer including the hourly rate. We decided that we would not work for less than 60 dollars per hour given the challenges and the high standards required by the job, as well as to reflect court interpreters’ compensation in other Canadian provinces, and the new realities of market conditions.


As soon as we decided to take action, a good number of interpreters decided to follow our general pattern of action.

Starting on January 1st 2022, we have been asking for the new PCIO rate and also Terms and Conditions. Most courts got their managers to approve the new rate. However, some courts still do not approve the Terms and Conditions despite approving the new rate.


MAG has sent us two memos this year, saying that they are observing the situation and they promise a policy review that would achieve “long-term objectives” in the next few weeks. The problem with this approach is that it looks like that they are still thinking of imposing a unilateral system on us. They should involve us in the decision-making process so that everything is fair and mutually acceptable. This would motivate us to do the best we can to keep the justice system running efficiently. In the long run a happy work place is the most productive work place.


Not involving us in the decision-making process is tantamount to treating us as migrant labour. MAG is responsible for the administration of justice in the province of Ontario of which we are a vital part. Being unfair to us is a contradiction in the purpose of MAG “protecting the public by delivering a wide range of legal services”[2].


We urge MAG to involve us in the decision-making process. This is the only way to prevent the rate of attrition and preserve the professionalism of court interpreting.


By: PCIO – Professional Court Interpreters of Ontario

File: 2022-1