Territorial judges won’t be getting the pay raise they pushed for earlier this year.
The Judicial Remuneration Commission, an independent panel tasked with reviewing judges’ salaries and benefits every four years, rejected their request for a 3.4 per cent salary increase for 2020-2021.
With territorial judges already earning more than most of their counterparts across Canada — they made just shy of $300,000 annually last year — the commission concluded a first year lump sum increase in wages wasn’t warranted.
Instead, the three-member panel recommended salary increases based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) over the next four years by an amount equal to last year’s average increase in CPI in Yellowknife. The average last year was 1.6 per cent.
The recommendations are binding, meaning they must be accepted and adopted by the territory’s justice minister.
The commission weighed a number of factors in coming to their decision, from the NWT’s economic forecast to how much judges in other jurisdictions earn.
In January, the commission heard submissions from territorial judges and the GNWT.
Judges argued their pay should reflect the unique challenges they face working in the NWT — it’s a demanding job that requires them to oversee criminal, civil, family and bylaw cases while travelling frequently to communities across the territory.
Echoing past conclusions from the independent panel, the commission agreed the demanding job’s wide scope warranted high wages, but ruled territorial judges will be able to maintain their spot among the top paid judges in the country with CPI-hinged pay increases.
On top of their annual salary, territorial judges earn a $3,700 Northern Allowance, with Chief Judge Robert Gorin receiving an extra $15,000 yearly.
The commission also ruled on changes to benefits for territorial judges.
“The Minister will make long-term disability benefits available to judges until the earlier resignation, death, or attaining the age for mandatory receipt of pension, at age 69, effective April 1, 2020,” stated the panel.