Canadian Law: Jury Duty In Canada Can Take Its Toll On Your Budget

jury duty CanadaTHE LETTER THAT MOST PEOPLE DREAD

 

Jury Duty.. Not me… No way. Think again!

While we were out for a walk back a couple of days ago we stopped by the post box to get the mail. Mrs. CBB started to read out loud, “A letter from the Ministry of the Attorney General, I wonder what that could be”.

Honestly she was a bit spooked and thought something was wrong. She says you just don’t get a letter from the Attorney General for nothing, while ripping it open.

A Letter for Jury Duty? She seemed confused and I wasn’t much help as I know nothing about jury duty selection and Criminal Law in Canada.

Laws in Canada

 

Canadian Law and the Canadian Legal System is something I’m working on understanding although I’m not a Canadian Citizen yet just a permanent resident who’s been more focused on building credit in Canada rather than educating myself about laws in Canada.

Although not on my top 5 things I love about Canada jury duty is still something important everyone who lives in Canada should learn about.

I have not long landed in Canada from the UK but the amount I have to learn is huge. It had me thinking about Canadian Law and what I should start learning about now that I live in this beautiful country.

I later learned sitting on a jury in Canada could potentially take its toll on your financial health if you are not prepared. Compensation while sitting as a juror is ridiculously low although it varies from province to province.

I’m sure that’s why so many people are trying to squirm their way out of being selected as a juror unless your province takes good care of you then you may jump in with both feet.

Head to Newfoundland and employers are required to pay you full wages and benefits while you sit as a juror. I’m betting the absenteeism rate is pretty low. If you live in Quebec they provide an allowance for childcare or the care of others under their responsibility as well as up to five one-hour  psychological sessions at $65 per hour.

What is a juror?

 

Hopefully you aren’t scratching your head but just in case a juror is someone who sits in the courts and with the guidance of a judge determine questions of fact in a civil or criminal trial. That’s a big job and nothing to take lightly and something I question if I could put myself through. Would I have the option though, probably not.

You have to remember that jury duty is a part that Canadians play to make sure that justice is served by carrying out your role as a citizen. We can sit back and complain all we want but participation is crucial.

“A jury summons is not an invitation,” writes Ontario Superior Court Justice Casey Hill

Get me out of jury duty

 

How to get out of jury selection duty?

The only way out of jury duty is if you don’t qualify or simply can’t take on the role but you need to follow the rules and prove it. It is an offence to just disregard the selection process or any forms you need to fill out and send back.

The form Mrs.CBB received stated she had 5 days to read, fill out and send back her signed and dated questionnaire. Now is not a time to be tossing your mail into a drawer and why reading it as soon as you get it is important.

Reading on, Mrs. CBB later understood that  it wasn’t jury duty selection rather her name was selected from a municipal enumeration list (voter’s list) to be considered for inclusion on a Jury Roll.

She has a legal obligation now to fill out the Questionnaire and return it. She could at any time then receive a summons to attend for jury duty. A Jury Roll simply means names of Canadian Citizens in a certain jurisdiction that are eligible to serve as jurors if they are summoned to do so.

Now, being called for jury duty doesn’t mean you will be selected as a juror. If they don’t like you, they will boot you out, that’s just the way it goes.

Is there an age limit for jury duty? Yes in Canada you need to be 18 years of age and a Canadian Citizen.

Well I guess that removes me from the list for now as I’m a permanent resident (PR) from the UK but it’s good to know although there are many exemptions as mentioned above including health reasons, nursing, extreme hardships etc.

Depending on your profession in Canada or if you have been convicted of any criminal offenses that can be prosecuted by way of an indictment for which you have not been granted a pardon you will be disqualified.

Jury selection criteria

 

Who Can Be On A Jury?

  • A Canadian Citizen
  • Must be 18 yrs of age or older
  • Must live in the province of the jurisdiction that served you

A sigh of relief came over me especially the more she researched the jury selection process with me.  Do you know what you get paid for jury duty?

How many Canadians are actually prepared financially if they get called to jury?

This is another great reason that an emergency savings is crucial for everyone. Have you ever thought how your finances would hold up if you were serving as a juror on a case that took a year or more to deliberate and make a final judgement?

Employers and jury duty

 

Your employer must release you to attend jury duty and your service as an employee would continue as if you were there. They  must not terminate or change conditions of employment without your written consent.

That means when you come back you will be in the same role you left or a comparable position.

Some employers may opt to pay you full or partial wages while you are on jury duty but they are not required to by law. If you are receiving EI you are entitled to continue receiving that money if you are selected as a juror.

Jury selection compensation

 

How much compensation will I get while I am serving as a Juror?

This is the million dollar question by anyone who potentially may become a juror. Sit back, you’re in for a bumpy ride in Ontario.

You will be responsible for paying for transportation and any parking fees unless you live 40 kms away from the courthouse. If you live in the city where you will sit as a juror you are expected to pay your own transportation or take a bus. You must keep all your receipts.

You will also have to bring your own lunch although they provide coffee and water to all jurors. Eat out and you can add $5-$20 every day to your monthly budget. You would only stay in a hotel if it is late and you are in the final stages of deliberations in a criminal trial.

You will only receive compensation once you are selected as a jury but not in the summons stage. Once selected, after 10 days of hearings have elapsed you will start to bank some cash but you get nil a big fat zero $$ before that.

Now, don’t spend that $40 all in one spot as you are now getting paid less than minimum wage for a full days work to fulfil your duty as a Canadian, so make sure you are prepared.

Did you think you would get more money than that? This is the experience of a lifetime so take the money and run, you may never get this opportunity again or at least for another 2 years.

If you are so fortunate to make it to day 50 you will then get a raise to a whopping $100 per day you are a juror although they say this is rare. One instance where a judge changed the compensation for a long drawn out case was in the Victoria Stafford Case where the judge offered $40 from the start and $100 after day 25. I couldn’t imagine the financial burden on those jurors but I’m betting the experience was an eye opener for them.

There are no other expenses that are paid for but they will do their best to accommodate anyone with disabilities. If you need to find childcare for your children it’s best you arrange it ahead of time and of course there is no allowance for this so you are paying for it out-of-pocket. This is just another reason for Canadians to buckle up and start budgeting and paying down debt.

For More information about jury duty selection where you live or questions contact the Ministry of the Attorney General. 

Ignoring jury duty could get you a hefty fine or even jail time for contempt of court so prepare yourself and your finances for any unexpected expenses that might arise especially when you least expect it.

From what I’ve learned this past couple of days I’m still proud and honoured to live in Canada. Mrs. CBB has mailed back her questionnaire and now simply waits to see if they want to hear her 2 cents for potential Jury Duty.

Money Quote Logo CBB

 

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Mr. CBB
I’m from the UK and now a recent permanent resident in Canada. I bought my first house at the age of 21 after University then my second at the age of 24. I’ve always been fascinated with personal finance, savings, learning to make money and watch it grow while combating debts along the way. Canadian Budget Binder is a place where I get to share my experiences with personal finance and learn about yours along the way. I hope you stick around and check me out on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest where I am active on all social media sites. Cheers, Mr.CBB
Mr. CBB
Mr. CBB

Comments

  1. Mary F Campbell says:

    I was called once but it was right after a serious car accident, so I was excused for medical reasons – I was unable to sit, stand or walk at that point.

    A friend of mine was called on a serial murder trial & he was tied up for months & months & he was the sole wage earner at the time and it caused sever damage to their financial health. The worst part was the year of therapy he had to pay for to get over the psychological damage done by having to review such gruesome evidence. He not so lovingly refers to it as his $50,000 civic duty!

    • Canadianbudgetbinder says:

      Wow, that sure is a story but it happens and that is a great example of what it can do to someone’s finances. I don’t know how prepared we can all be but having some emergency money is better than nothing. I think the psychological sessions should be mandatory and paid for in cases such as his. That’s not fair. Thanks for sharing Mary. Mr.CBB

    • That’s an incredible story. I think most people forget about the psychological impact that some cases can have on jurors. That would be an interesting topic to read some research on.

      • Canadianbudgetbinder says:

        Exactly as much as we all like to be nosey as citizens we don’t get all the details in the media. Sometimes sitting through the details of how a person was murdered will be enough to do some serious damage to someone’s mental health. It’s not all roses that’s for sure… we should be prepared not only financially but mentally for this role if it should be given to us as Canadians. Thanks for dropping in. Mr.CBB

  2. John S @ Frugal Rules says:

    My wife was picked once to do Jury Duty here in the States, but it was literally about two weeks before our wedding and they allowed her to get out of it. I know the pay here to be a Juror is terrible, although I think it would be interesting if you were selected andf got to be part of an interesting case.

    • Canadianbudgetbinder says:

      Yes you have to have a pretty darn good excuse as to why you don’t want to be in a jury if chosen. The interesting case may start out that way until the scary details.. if you aren’t prepared for that it could take it’s toll mentally on you. I’m not sure how I would be if I had to hear the details of a murder case… or some other scary ass case. Some people are just plain odd and do weird things. Cheers Mr.CBB

  3. I was called for jury duty a couple of times while I was in college. They let students out of the responsibility.

    • Canadianbudgetbinder says:

      Yes if you are in school they will let you out of jury duty. Mrs.CBB said this is the first time ever for her.

  4. Christine Weadick says:

    Our oldest son was sent the notice the Mrs received but but as he was, at that time with the Dept of National Defense he was not allowed to serve. The notice was sent here so I opened it with his permission while we were talking on the phone. On his behalf I called the 800 number and explained the problem and they were very understanding, and told me there was no rush to get it back as I told them I would have to forward the notice to him before he could send it back to them. You would think that would get his name off the list for a fair while….nope….he got another notice a year or so later.Same deal as before. My husband got as far as getting a summons to show up for selection but it was called off a few days later as they didn’t need him.

    • Canadianbudgetbinder says:

      Interesting to hear everyone’s stories as this is all new to me. You would think they would take him off the list but sounds to me the system doesn’t work that way. Mr.CBB

  5. I’ve actually been summoned twice and (thankfully) I’ve been in university both times! I too never thought about the psychological implications, scary stuff!

    • Canadianbudgetbinder says:

      Ya, sounds exciting but at the same time you can’t hide your head under a blank at the scary parts like when we were kids…

  6. Here in the US you can be a juror if you’re over 18 and registered to vote. I’ve never been on jury duty but employers are fairly flexible with it here…although, the jury duty wage is fairly low. It all sounds similar though and also sounds like a very big pain in the ass.

    • Canadianbudgetbinder says:

      Yep but it’s our duty as citizens to step up I guess. It’s just scary for those that don’t have an employer who tops up or pays full wage. A few of my fans posted on my facebook page of some stories as well in the comments here. Scary.. Cheers Jason! Mr.CBB

  7. I got called up to do it a while ago. I went to the whole orientation and everything, but they let me go because I was breastfeeding at the time and was a full-time student. They paid $9/day! It’s a serious financial burden to do your civic duty; especially if you get paid hourly.

    • Ya I read that if you are a mum that is nursing or if you are in school you can get out of it. The pay is sick I know.. that’s why it’s something to be aware of and another reason to have an emergency stash. Could you imagine if it lasted a long time.. man oh man. Cheers Mr.CBB

  8. Katrina B says:

    I was called for jury duty a few years ago, but having Tourette’s makes it very uncomfortable for me to sit for extended periods of time so I was excused with a doctors note.

  9. I have been summoned for jury duty. I just survive pay cheque to pay cheque now I barely make enough to pay bills now, I will not get any money from my employer I am considered a contract worker with no benefits thanks to the way the government allows companies to treat their employees & I have worked hard all my life to get where I am now & now I will lose it all and there is not a thing I can do about it.

  10. mark3960 says:

    So you would advocate draining ones personal emergency savings to do their ‘civic duty’? Never going to happen in my lifetime. My family’s roof, food, and clothing trump that without even thinking once about it, let alone twice.

    There are many articles lately about the legal system in Canada wondering why chosen jurors fail to appear etc…….Please, honestly.. the Canadian legal system as a whole can’t be that dense can it? Who can honestly afford to lose the wages? $40 per day (Ontario) AFTER 10 days doesn’t even start to come close to covering the expenses of most. It might cover parking and the coffee on the way there.
    This to me demonstrates a lack of vision and understanding on the part of the people making 100k – 200k per year who fail to see that a majority of us don’t.
    But here’s the kicker which would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad: we taxpayers pay judges considerably large salaries to judge people, but at the whim of the court we can be chosen to pay again to do it ourselves!!

    • I think if there were no other options than yes. Not everyone can get out of jury duty and if it were that easy then why bother telling people they have to attend. This is a huge topic and lots of people who get called for jury duty are looking for answers. I’m with you, I’d do whatever I could to not have to be a juror if it would affect the roof over my head and food on the table. I still don’t understand how they expect people to survive. Hell, we can’t do it while we are working how do they think we can make it when we aren’t and doing the civic duty. I’m only advocating it IF there is no other option.

      • When you prepare your income taxes, do not check the box to be included on the voter’s list. That is where they get the potential jurors. You can always register for individual elections when they come up. Every time I check that box, I get jury summons, but never when I leave it unchecked. I’ve also never been denied my vote when I don’t check the box, just have to bring my ID.

  11. I would love to speak with you if possible for a story I am working on. G

  12. I was called for Jury Duty Selection twice in the last 3 Years, in Montreal, Quebec. It’s not so bad here. You are paid $100 per day, receive an allowance for transport/parking/bus tickets, an allowance for lunch and possibly supper, depending how long the day runs.
    During the selection/orientation day I was compensated for gas, parking & lunch. I was in a group of 300+ people, where several groups of 20-30 potential jurors were randomly selected for several trials. Most people were not selected, and could go home. During the lunch break, before juror interviews, anyone that had an issue with serving, could see the judge and plead their case to be excused. The first time around, I didn’t think I had a valid excuse, so I didn’t talk to the Judge. The second time I was called, I got in this line, and explained that I’m single, live paycheck-to-paycheck and normally make more than 2.5x what they’re offering in compensation. Serving on a Jury would cause me to default on several loans, and cause me to have to file bankruptcy. I was let go without having to provide proof.
    The first time through, I was selected for a convenience Store Robbery Trial. I really lucked out there. The defendant was a visible minority and I am White. I was asked if his skin colour would affect my ability to remain impartial. I replied “Yes Ma’am, he looks guilty to me”, upon which I was promptly excused.
    One thing that does not make sense to me, is that Senior Citizens are excused from Jury Duty. Along with Welfare Recipients, Senior Citizens have the most time to serve on a Jury, and they receive their full pension benefits regardless. That seems like an ideal Juror to me.

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