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Fees rising as new court transcript model takes hold

|Written By Glenn Kauth

Fees are going up as the Ontario government gets ready to outsource the production of court transcripts next month.

Under a new fee schedule, the cost per page is $4.30 for an original certified transcript.

Under a new fee schedule, the cost per page is $4.30 for an original certified transcript, up from the previous $3.20 for non-Court of Appeal matters. Under the new system, parties will be able to request expedited transcripts for either $6 per page to get them within five business days or $8 per page for a 24-hour turnaround. The Ministry of the Attorney General notes the fee schedule has remained the same for 22 years.

The fee increases come as Arkley Professional Services gets set to begin administering the court transcript process as of June 9. The move follows years of litigation over how the governments treats its court reporters who have also been doing the transcription work.

In a case going back years, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union accused the province of violating its collective agreement by not applying it to court reporters who prepare and certify transcripts. At one point, the union took the matter to the Grievance Settlement Board as it sought an order applying the terms and conditions of the collective agreement.

The board found the duties court reporters perform in typing and certifying transcripts of court proceedings was bargaining-unit work rather than additional freelance-type duties beyond their regular courtroom activities. But the dispute continued as the union alleged the government failed to act on the rulings.

Earlier this year, the government and OPSEU reached a deal that would provide compensation to court reporters for their transcription work up until now. The settlement also allowed the government to move forward with contracting out transcription work to independent providers.

Among those who will move onto the Arkley’s list of providers, should they choose, are the ministry court reporters themselves. That list will likely include a host of transcription service providers. The Court Reporters’ Association of Ontario, has thus created its own service, Accurately Noted, to connect its members with those who may be using the Arkley list.

“Pick someone you know that does a good job,” says association president Joanne Hardie, who emphasizes the importance of accuracy in doing transcription work.

“Look for familiar names,” she advises lawyers. “First and foremost, consider the court reporter of record.”

Kim Neeson, of Neeson & Associates Court Reporting and Captioning Inc., says there are positives and negatives to the new system. Among the positives are the ability of parties to choose a transcriptionist they like and the ability to expedite requests by going to someone they know will do the job quickly. But Neeson notes the potential downsides given that parties may not be using the court reporter who was there during the proceedings.

"There's more of a chance of error," she says, noting the recordings often pick up random noises that can interfere with the transcription work. In addition, in cases where the court reporter has forgotten to turn off the recording during breaks, the transcriptionist may not realize that something is off the record later on, says Neeson.

The Court Reporter's Association is also asking questions about the certification of those who will be on the list to provide services along with its members. Last week, Durham College began a 14-week, $375 evening course to “become a certified court transcriptionist” in light of the new model.

Hardie says she doesn’t have all of the details on the course but notes the association questions whether it’s enough to do the job given the need for added supports like mentorship and other forms of training.

In the end, Neeson says the the new system will be a case of "buyer beware" when it comes to ensuring quality and accuracy.

"You pick people from the list who are properly qualified," she says.

Hardie notes some court reporters are still unhappy with the changes after a long fight over their working conditions and the outsourcing issue. But she says it has largely accepted the reality given that other provinces have moved towards independent providers. That’s why, she notes, it has moved to highlight members’ qualifications through the Accurately Noted web site.

“We can’t fight it anymore,” she says. “I think we need to reinvent ourselves.”

Update May 13: Comments from Kim Neeson added.

  • Give ACT a chance

    suzie palmerston
    Hello Give ACT a chance: Agreed. But - I'm just wondering if DC means Durham College? And could you also tell me what the course is and what else you are required to do to become a Authorized by the Ministry?
    Thanks.
  • Durham College course

    Martha E.
    Having just completed the July to October course, I can tell you that it is intense. Nobody without extensive legal experience will pass. In fact, I believe 10+ students dropped out within 3 weeks. Most attendees were already working in the courts as clerks, reporters or assistants to Judges. One or two others had many years of legal experience either in Ministries or law firms. There is also a strict qualificaiton process once you complete the course. And yes, you need 98 to pass. That requires full attendance at the classes (2 missed classes allowed) and constant studying.
    The course teachers teach according to the Manual on the Arkley site, which I believe is the Ministry of Attorney General standard. How may of you have updated your process to comply with this??
    New transcriptionists from the Durham College course are no more a threat than the older model of new hire reporters / transcriptionists.
    Peace.
  • EX court reporter

    Karen F.
    Martha, if you just finished when you did they couldn't have stressed proofing your work as you made a typo!
  • durham college course

    Martha E.
    You're right, Karen. But aren't typos the thing in blogs these days? :)
  • Give ACT a chance

    Rasec Zuarj
    I think new graduates from the DC's ACT course deserve to be given the opportunity of exploring the court transcriptionist work area. I know that the course is NOT an easy one and that the students needed a 98% accuracy for their final examination.
    People (from past generations of reporters/transcriptionists, I am sure) that are trying to demean the potential for new offers and shield themselves under the "extensive experience" blanket are merely showing fear of business competitiveness.
  • RE: Fees rising as new court transcript model takes hold

    Lori P.
    Glenn,

    Re. Mistake in article.

    Arkley Professional Services is not administering the court transcription process. They are merely the company which maintains the website list of accredited court transcriptionists.

    The transcriptionist is the new Independent Service Provider of transcript administration AND Min of Attorney Gen. is still very much involved in the process.

    The change for ordering parties is that they now have choice as to transcriptionist AND they must contact the transcriptionist directly to place an order. One place to get contact info for transcriptionist is the website.

    Think of the ACT website as akin to the Law Society of Upper Canada website where one has the capability of ascertaining whether or not a given Ontario lawyer holds certain credentials. Now you understand Arkley's limited role. I mean, who knows the name of the people running the law society website?

    Lori Power
  • RE: Fees rising as new court transcript model takes hold

    Lori P.
    Suzie,
    I don't find your name on the list of Accredited Court Transcriptionists...
  • RE: Fees rising as new court transcript model takes hold

    Lori P.
    Suzie,

    Hiring a typist means you are paying out money, not necessarily making more.

    It was always up to the certified reporter to proof the final product which means to read every word of the document against the recording. These same certified reporters now have ACT accreditation.

    Furthermore, if you believe that graduates of a 14-week course are going to embody all of the admirable attributes you mention (and not have a different full-time job and have their kids and/or partners typing for them - just one scenario) then I think you have high hopes.

    There are no transcript police, no monitoring, only - as there always was - a vehicle for complaint resolution.

    As I see it, in this regard, it looks good on paper.

    Personally, I hold myself to a high standard in court transcription. I expect everyone sets their own bar - paperwork or not.
  • the undertaking and the "typist"

    suzie palmerston
    Publication Bans were to be respepected as per the Criminal Code of Canada and judges orders.
  • the undertaking and the "typist"

    suzie palmerston
    ...It goes to character. The undertaking is putthing the Court Transcriptionist in a position where they are now not only ethically responsible they are not legally responsible to protect the pricacy and the administration of justice, simply by guarding the recordings. It's about time. There are other issues with this new model. But this is a great improvement. The only big thing missing is the importance of the Court Reporter of REcord, but that's another issue...
  • the undertaking and the "typist"

    suzie palmerston
    - The undertakings are mandatory, becaues too many rrecordings were out there given to unauthorized individuals who did not work for MAG and did not undergo any security checks, or confidential agreemsnts and were not experienced. PUblication bans were not respected, nor was the the privacy of the parties when those recrodings were given out to those unauthorized individuals, as noted above. When anyone puts making money by hiring typists, and giving out the court recordings, above respect priccy as legislated and putting the admiinstration of justice in jeopary by not respecting the publication bans to do with those matters being transcribed ---- giveing out recording to unauthorized individuals "typists" it is unethical behaviour. ... ...
  • RE: Fees rising as new court transcript model takes hold

    Lori P.
    Re. comment #7:

    Privacy: Agreed. However, I'll restate it, all MAG had to do was to have reporters sign an undertaking (as we've now done under the "new model").

    Publication bans: Were always to be respected as per our Court Transcript Standards and Procedures Manual (nothing new under the "new model").

    Ethical, professional: This is a MAG standard (nothing new under the "new model").
  • ACT and the undertaking

    suzie palmerston
    The court reporters have been made aware and are now legally responsible, to guard the privacy of the parties involved in the proceeidngs, and to respect the publication bans ordered on proceeings. So now the court reporters are responsible to ensure those recordings of the proceeding DO NOT go to anyone unauthorized an ACT, as we all know "typist" were given the recordings to type the transcript, They were never authorized, so now the record and the privacy / publication bans ordered, the administration of justice is protected and holds the court reporters/transcriptionists RESPOINSIBLE, the undertaking makes that clear. The Ministry is responsible to ensure people hired are properly trained in all aspect of sitting in court and what the curriculum and standards will be for the transcriptionst to become authorized. The individuals who take on those responsibilites are responsible to behave in an ethical, profissional manner.
  • ACT and in-court reporter

    Lori P.
    Regarding "very serious privacy concerns", all the Ministry had to do was ask reporters to sign an undertaking. That's all we've done now. There are no transcript police as far as I know. How is privacy better under the new model? Is an ordering party in Ottawa going to check on who is actually doing the typing of their transcript when they've sent their order to an ACT in Chatham or Sudbury? The Ministry of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Colleges and Universities are the key players here and, in my opinion, this new model isn't about better service for transcript production.
  • some clarification... and more

    suzie pulmerston
    ...3. I don't understand how "Accurately Noted" can be associated with the CRAO, a not for profit origination, without a conflict of interest.
    4. The most important, reliable, experienced and prepared transcriptionist will be the court reporter of record, the one who made the recording and was in court at the time of the proceedings. Time will show this is really the only way to get an accurate, verbatim transcript. Unfortunately, there will be a lot of errors and omissions before this comes to a solid realization.
    In the meantime, only order your transcripts from an authorized court transcriptionist ACT, who would never release the court recording to any unauthorized individuals.
  • some clarification... and more

    suzie pulmerston
    ....This is a huge change and one seriously needed. There have been very serious privacy concerns, the privacy of the parties in the matters has been put in jeopardy, along with putting the administration of justice in jeopardy, simply put, even the recordings of the matters with publication bans on them were easily given out to "typist" with no security check, confidential agreements, and who do/did NOT have employment with the Ministry as court reporters. They were never authorized to have the recordings. CONTINUED ON NEXT POST...
  • some clarification... and more

    suzie pulmerston
    ....Authorized transcriptionists are qualified and experienced in producing verbatim court transcripts, the guardian of the record and the recording, all have signed UNDERTAKING, ensuring that individuals that are not authorized may NOT have access to the court recordings. In years past there have been some unethical court reporters who have, in an effort to make more $$, given the recordings out to unauthorized individuals to transcribe, leaving the court reporter to only "proof it" and certify it.
  • some clarification... and more

    suzie pulmerston
    This is a great article. It assists in the Why? question of the Ministry's new transcript model. However, there is more to know:
    1. Court transcriptionist must be AUTHORIZED by the Ministry of Attorney General. The only real function of the Arkley - courttranscriptontario.ca website is to maintain the list of AUTHORIZED COURT TRANSCRIPTIONISTS, ACT - so that transcript ordering parties can confirm whether or not the transcriptionist is authorized and eligible to certify the court transcripts. (Arkley the won the govt. bid to set up and maintain the site.) CONTINUED IN NEXT POST...
  • realtime court reporter

    Lisa Barrett
    How are you monitoring the people who get ACT certifications and start up businesses with typing pools of people who barely speak English to prepare the transcripts at $1.00, while they pocket the rest? This is rampant. New Digital Monitors do not even need to take the course . This system is incredibly flawed. It is the Wild West in transcript preparation. Please address these issues soon or dangerous criminals will be allowed freedom, due to bad transcript quality, on appeal. Digital monitors are charging three times for the same transcript. It's craziness. Bring back the certified realtime reporters to do high profile trials. We can compete with the $8.00/pp model and provide realtime, rough drafts and certified to all parties, included in that price!
    Your model is a failure.
  • In-Court Reporter and Accredited Court Transcriptionist

    Lori Power
    Glenn,

    You have made a mistake in your article. Arkley Professional Services is not administering the court transcription process. This is the name of the company which maintains the website list of accredited court transcriptionists. The court transcription process still very much involves the court office and the transcriptionist. The substantial change for ordering parties is that they now have choice as to transcriptionist and they must contact the transcriptionist directly to place an order.

    If you think of the Arkley website as akin to the Law Society of Upper Canada website where one has the capability of ascertaining whether or not a given Ontario court transcriptionist is accredited, this will give you a better sense of Arkley's role. I mean, who knows the name of the people running the law society website?

    Lori Power

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