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Ontario looking to contract out transcription work

|Written By Glenn Kauth

The Ontario government is looking to contract out the transcription work of its court reporters, a new Grievance Settlement Board ruling reveals.

The March 1 ruling, which considered a grievance by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union against the provincial government’s treatment of court reporters as independent contractors when it comes to their transcription work, noted the new plan aimed at responding to an earlier finding that the province’s approach was in violation of the collective agreement.

“The employer has made it known to the union as well as the board that its intention is to exercise its management rights to contract out the work of producing transcripts,” wrote vice chairman Nimal Dissanayake.

The ruling follows a 2006 decision that the work court reporters do in typing and certifying transcripts of court proceedings was bargaining unit work rather than additional freelance-type duties beyond their regular courtroom activities.

Under the Ministry of the Attorney General’s framework, court reporters got a per-page fee for transcription work often done outside of regular hours. The union, however, argued transcription work was a key function performed by court reporters that should be subject to the provisions of the collective agreement and the associated remuneration for things like overtime and holiday pay.

Despite the 2006 ruling, the parties have struggled to agree on how to implement it and, as such, the government has maintained the existing regime that essentially treats court reporters as employees for their regular courtroom duties and independent contractors for transcription work. As a result, parties have been back before the board repeatedly since 2010 in a bid to resolve the issue.

Despite the government’s imminent plans to contract out the work and its argument that the board lacked jurisdiction to force it apply the collective agreement, Dissanayake ordered the province to change its approach right away.

“The employer shall forthwith cease its violation of the collective agreement by failing to apply the collective agreement to court reporters, who the board had declared to be employees performing bargaining work when producing transcripts,” wrote Dissanayake.

  • Transcription Service

    Video Transcription
    First of all i would like to thanks for this article. But its true that They aren't going to implement some new system and for the old given out rules they make more cost more money.its not right to do like this
  • Steve Hubbard
    But I do know what is going on up there. I am from Ottawa, and worked in Toronto for a few years freelancing in the Supreme Court of Ontario.

    It is happening all over North America. The courts could care less about a live reporter in the courtroom anymore. They are looking to reduce costs. They will accept less than perfect transcription. It all comes down to money.

    As long as Ontario is BROKE, as you say, then most certainly they do not want to pay an appearance fee anymore. Put in a top rated DAR system, armortize the cost over 5 years, no benefits, no future pensions after retiring after 25 years of service, living to you are 90, retired longer than you were a civil servant. exactly, they do NOT want to pay that kind of money. Stenos and Voice Writers who can do credible realtime and daily and expedited copy are the only live reporters they want in an Ontario courtroom anymore. Anything less, DAR transcribers will do it at very competitive
  • RE: Ontario looking to contract out transcription work

    Steve Hubbard
    Ladies, do not feel betrayed by the Ontario Government. They are only doing what 35 states out of 50 have already done here in the USA, gone to, going to DAR. There is only on steno school in all of Eastern Canada, in Toronto. Noble attempt but for sure only makes the Ontario crap in its pants to know zero in court court reporters are going to be available. So who teaches voice writing up there anyway? If there is is any promise for a future it is found in voice recognition. I am originally born and raised in Ottawa, speak and write both official languages. Interpreters is not an issue. We don't have two official languages here in the States, but we have a lot of Spanish so consecutive or simultaneous translation is commonplace. You know very well BC, AB, Saskatchewn, MB, Quebec, and all the Maritime provinces went to audio and DAR long ago. We are a dying breed. Now stop complaining and bid on some transcribing contracts and stop being pussies.
  • M. Ralston
    Hey, Hubbard. BC has not gone to DAR. They're reporting is done my machine reporters.
  • Steve Hubbard
    Hey, Ralston, you live in BC, yet you don't know that BC has been on DAR for a few years? Call them up and be the educated and informed Canadian you are. No doubt stenos still have the deposition market as we do down here. I used to work for the BC courts in 1972 in Vancouver, Supreme Court. Things have changed considerably. Anybody can pick up the phone and call the Clerk of Court and know that what you wrote is misinformation. Smart stenos should be hustling both courts and the lawyers who hire them to write realtime and daily copy. There is where the money is. Are you up to the task?
  • Laura Nantau
    Needless to say, the court reporters of this province feel extremely betrayed by the employer. I foresee many problems with contracting out to transcriptionists who have never sat in a courtroom, know legal terms or who do not have the expertise required to do this job. Ontarians who take part in the legal system should be disheartened by this move - transcripts will not be accurate, and people's legal rights will be violated by these mistakes. The government could actually make money by giving court reporters full time status and jacking up the per page fee of $3.20 (which has been in place since 1994) and collecting the fees. All lawyers, the judiciary and the public should be very worried about this move by the government. Judges will lose a part of their judicial independence. They will have to have their secretaries call an outside service to place orders as we will only be recording proceedings.
  • Karen S
    Laura,

    We should also feel betrayed by OPSEU. As usual, whenever they put their hands into a situation like this the employer retaliates and the people who end up being losers are the employees.

    I distinctly remember our first strike in the 90s. I lost out on a lot and we gained nothing from it except a few weeks off without pay. I at least got to go to Florida and maintain my vacation credits but I was lucky enough to be able to afford that. Others couldn't.

    Karen
  • Steve Hubbard
    Glenn, ASR (automated speech recognition) is a reality. As long as the judge, the lawyers and witness wear a lapel mic, their voices digitally recorded, then run through this Canadian's CloudTranscriptor ASR. Just Google "CloudTranscriptor" to view examples of our fully automated multiple voice transcription technology. You may need to download and install from Apple its free QuickTime Player for either your PC or Mac.
  • Laura Nantau
    Steve,

    The Ontario government is BROKE. They aren't going to implement some new system that will cost more money. You have no clue what's going on up here.
  • Steve Hubbard
    But Karen, I am a reporter! Got my CSRAO in 1975 in Toronto! Freelanced with the then Supreme Court of Ontario under Bruce Crockett and Fred Pettet. DAR has ability to record on separate tracks. So let them talk over each other. The software know which mic is being used by a specific person assigned to it. Obviously the interpreter speaks French and English, the witness only French? So we knows who's who there. Besides the witness's soundtrack is preserved along with the interpreter's in case there is an appeal issue based on a significant mistranslation / interpretation. Something no steno I prepared to do with multitrack sound recording.
  • Karen S
    Steve, Obviously you are not a reporter. What will you do when you have people talk over each other which happens constantly? With at least 4 different mics in what order are people talking? What about the intperpreter which is a reality in this country? You don't know what you are talking about!

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