Human Rights office unable to function: commissioner

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Provincial budget cuts too much to handle says Commissioner John Walsh

NL Human Rights Commission logo

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.

 

Organizations: Human Rights Commission

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Recent comments

  • EDfromRED
    April 01, 2013 - 20:30

    Looks like the people who have been making these lousy decisions, and harming Justice and Democracy in this province have been reading "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich"...but just the "Rise" portions.

  • joseph
    April 01, 2013 - 17:17

    Bud, you are half right. The rich are the only ones who can afford to fight for their rights and they seem to have more rights than the common person. We are just the ones who keep this country running with our enormous tax burden.

  • Robert
    April 01, 2013 - 14:30

    I'm not surprised with this as Government is one of, if noit the most frequent, violator of human rights in the province. I worked for government since 1975 until last year and currently have an investigation on going through human rights. Government's human rights compliance is reprehensible.

  • J
    April 01, 2013 - 12:01

    This is actually very good. This will force the HRC to focus on actual violations of the code and not take up every little grievance. As I am sure you are all aware anyone caught on the wrong side of the HRC has to pay out of their own pocket. People should use google to read some of the more ludicrous cases that have been heard across Canada and won.

    • Common Sense
      April 01, 2013 - 12:50

      J, every human rights commission in Canada functions differently. Read about the way the NL one works before you throw out statements like that. It's different from other commissions.

    • Clare Butt
      April 01, 2013 - 14:37

      This is a bad thing - I agree that some human rights commissions have taken up frivolous cases now and then, and at times the complaints have even endangered freedom of speech. But we still a strong human rights commission - so few of our laws are actually enforced nowadays, why should we tolerate their further erosion?

  • Redgrave
    Redgrave
    April 01, 2013 - 11:28

    I feel bad for John Walsh since he is in such a noble department of government with his hands tied. This is yet another blatant violation of the Canadian Charter. Maintenance of these departments is mandatory and was agreed upon many decades ago...INCLUDING NEWFOUNDLAND!!!

  • whatever bud
    April 01, 2013 - 11:17

    I didn't think people actually had human rights anymore...

    • Jorge Villanueva
      April 01, 2013 - 17:39

      Human Rights? It's like an umbrella, you won't miss it until it rains.