Judicial independence is a hallmark of Canada’s constitutional democracy and a cornerstone of our judicial system. It includes the adjudicative independence of judges on an individual level, and the institutional independence of the judiciary through the administration of justice that is separate from the executive and legislative branches. Under the Canadian Constitution, the judiciary is therefore separate from and independent of the other two branches of government, the executive and legislative

Recognizing the principle of judicial independence, Parliament enacted the Judges Act in 1985. Amongst other matters, the Act provides for allowances under which judges may claim reasonable expenses related to their work. The Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs receives and administers approximately 22,000 claims annually from the 1,200 or so federally appointed judges across Canada1. His office ensures every claim is audited, includes applicable receipts, and complies with the Judges Act and the relevant guidelines. Reimbursements must adhere to the following principles: value for money, accountability, transparency, and respect for judicial independence.

Further to section 38 of Bill C-58, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, which adds sections 90.01 to 90.24 to the Access to Information Act (ATIA), the Commissioner publishes judges’ expenses, reimbursed under the Incidental, Travel, Conference and Representational allowances. The publication is made thirty days after the end of each quarter. It is presented by court, with the exception of the representational allowance, and expenses of chief justices related to their specific roles as members of the Canadian Judicial Council and to their attendance at Council meetings are reported under that organization. The ATIA provides exemptions for the publication of expenses, where such may interfere with judicial independence, be subject to solicitor-client privilege, or compromise the security of persons or goods; the use, if any, of such an exemption will nonetheless be indicated and the amounts exempted identified.

1 Under the Judges Act, the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada is responsible for administering claims made by the nine justices of the highest court.