Budget 2017: Justice Department Investments
Budget 2017 contains funding for a number of progressive initiatives within the Department of Justice and Public Safety. These include funding for inquiries in the public interest, for the provision of legal counsel for victims of sexual assault, improvements to the provincial court system, and other significant investments.
Within the Justice Department, Government is investing a total of $1 million into public inquiries in Budget 2017. This investment will allow for the completion of the inquiry into the death of Donald Dunphy, and the start of an inquiry into search and rescue operations. Liberals have been calling for an inquiry into search and rescue since the death of Burton Winters in Labrador in 2012.
New Court Complex in St. John’s
Government is investing $500,000 to start the process of planning and building a new court complex in St. John’s. There have been calls for a new court facility in St. John’s for years. In January 2011, Chief Justice Derek Green talked about the need for new courthouse infrastructure, since court facilities in St. John’s are currently housed in four different building, two of which are over 100 years old. In November 2014, then-Premier Paul Davis announced that a request for proposals for a new courthouse for St. John’s would soon be issued.
Supreme Court Trial Division Renovations
Government is investing $195,000 to renovate the Supreme Court Trial Division in St. John’s. As mentioned above, this courthouse on Duckworth Street is more than 100 years old and needs modernization.
Supreme Court – Family Division
Government is investing $450,000 in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Family Division in St. John’s. This investment will address the increasing demand faced by the Court.
R v Jordan
Government is investing approximately $390,000 so the Department is able to address an increase in major cases, and to avoid unreasonable delays in criminal trials. The recent R. v Jordan decision of the Supreme Court of Canada has imposed timelines for criminal trials to be completed, and has caused several major criminal charges all across Canada, including in Newfoundland and Labrador, to be dropped as a result of unreasonable trial delays.
Labrador Court System
Government is investing approximately $370,000 to strengthen and improve Labrador’s court system. This investment includes the creation of four new permanent positions – three sheriffs and one court manager – in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
Legal Advice for Victims of Sexual Assault
Government is investing $250,000 to create the Sexual Assault Response Pilot Program. This program will provide free legal advice to sexual assault victims and help them navigate the legal system. This program has been a project of Minister Parsons’ since shortly after we formed Government. In March of this year, the Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women called on Government to immediately implement a program offering free legal advice to sexual assault victims.
Drug Treatment Court
Government is investing $120,000 to determine the feasibility of establishing a drug treatment court in Newfoundland and Labrador. Opening a drug treatment court would work towards reducing the number of crimes committed to support drug addictions in NL.
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry
Government is investing $285,000 to support the federal MMIW inquiry. This money will be used to establish Family Information Liaison Units, which will provide services to those who are participating in the national inquiry.
Her Majesty’s Penitentiary
Government is investing $100,000 to advance the planning of a replacement to Her Majesty’s Penitentiary. Mental health and justice advocates have been calling for the replacement of HMP for many years. The previous PC government had committed to replacing the jail, and as recently as 2014 said that a new facility was “coming soon,” but they never followed through.