Fighting for new support for Canadians after jury duty

Traumatized by his experience as a juror in a murder trial, Mark Farrant is leading a fight for new support services for jurors across Canada

Watch "Jurors and PTSD" on CBC's The National: http://www.cbc.ca/news/thenational/jurors-and-ptsd-1.3933697

Every year, thousands of Canadians perform the civic duty of serving on a jury during a trial. In some cases, jurors are exposed to graphic evidence or disturbing testimony from victims, witnesses or experts. For some, this can be a painful and traumatizing experience that stays with them for months or even years. Yet in most cases our justice system offers no support to jurors, unlike court staff, law enforcement officers, or others whose duties bring them into contact with disturbing material.

Last year, I was contacted by Mark Farrant, a Toronto man who served as the jury foreman in a murder trial. In the wake of the trial, he began to experience symptoms that would later be diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Looking for help, Mark discovered that no support is offered to jurors after the trial is over.

Since then, Mark has been fighting to ensure that no juror is left to suffer alone. He's written to every pronvincial Attorney General across Canada and managed to put the issue of juror support on the agenda in his home province of Ontario.

During the fall, I contacted the federal Minister of Justice and the members of the House of Commons Committee on Justice and Human Rights, calling for a review of what actions the federal government can take to improve the support services available for jurors who need them. You can read my most recent letter to the Minister of Justice below.

As Parliament returns for its winter session, I look forward to continuing to work with fellow New Democrats and my colleagues on the Justice Committee to find solutions to the problem that Mark has worked so hard to put on the agenda. When Canadians fulfill their civic duty and serve on a jury, they deserve to know they will be supported all the way.

Watch CBC's The National on "Jurors and PTSD".