The Canadian Bar Association — Newfoundland and Labrador Branch (CBA-NL) said today it strongly opposes cuts to the justice system resulting from the 2013 provincial budget.
There are 370 members of the CBA-NL.
“CBA-NL fears that access to justice, along with the public’s confidence in the justice system, will be significantly impacted by the cuts announced in the 2013 budget,” says CBA-NL vice-president Cheryl Mullett.
Mike King, chairman of the CBA-NL criminal justice section, says the association recognizes the challenges facing government in the current budget year, but cuts to legal aid, crown prosecutors and sheriff’s officers will place a heavy burden on an already overwrought system.
“These cuts have the potential to put our justice system in crisis,” King said. “The reduction in the number of crown prosecutors will significantly increase workloads, create delays, and a potential backlog of cases waiting to go before the courts.”
The association also says the safety of the sheriff’s officers, court staff and the public will be affected as a result of the layoffs at the sheriff’s office in St. John’s.
“The reduction in the number of sheriff’s officers in St. John’s from 40 to 20 is alarming when the scope of responsibilities of the sheriff’s officers is considered,” King said. “Among other things, they are responsible for the safety and security of our courthouses and will no doubt be challenged by a reduced workforce.”