Provincial budget cuts too much to handle says Commissioner John Walsh
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Human Rights Commissioner John Walsh says his office will not be able to function given fresh budget cuts — let alone continue in additional duties the office has taken on in the last several years.
In a statement issued this morning, Walsh and his co-workers wrote the Human Rights office will be “unable to meet even its core mandate,” considering its new budget.
The new budget means the loss of three staff members: one lawyer and two administrative staff.
A year earlier, the office lost a lawyer and investigator as a result of budget cuts, the news release stated.
The office is responsible for educational programs, investigations and, where necessary, inquiries relating to the Human Rights Act.
“Since 2010, the powers of the Human Rights Commission have been expanded to include mediation and to expedite the complaints process,” notes the statement.
The expanded mandate did not come with any sustained additions to the budget for the commission.
In 2012, the total budget for the Human Rights office went from just over a million dollars to about $845,000.
In Budget 2013, the office has been knocked back to $670,000.
The change has been mostly in salaries, with that budget line item dropping from $824,000 to about $502,000 in two years.
Walsh told The Telegram the new budget cuts will mean the office will no longer be able to act in the role of mediator.
He said people filing complaints can now expect to wait at least three years for their case to be resolved.
According to the commissioners’ statement, “these cuts will further diminish the commission’s ability to provide core initiatives such as technical training on human rights protection, community and public presentations on various matters, including employers’ duty to accommodate, and the promotion of legal protections for vulnerable populations such as persons with disabilities, immigrants, refugees, and women.”
This is a corrected version.