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B.C. bar association decries trims in court spending

Skier Lindsey Van in front of the Vancouver court house, April 20, 2009.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

The B.C. branch of the Canadian Bar Association is seizing on trims in provincial court spending to allege neglect by the B.C. Liberal government.

The overall justice ministry budget is up $28-million on an overall budget of about $1-billion according to estimates, but costs have been trimmed in attorney-general operations divisions dealing with court services.

"They reflect that the ministry was asked to make cuts and they did and that's at the expense of services," said Kerry Simmons, president of the B.C. branch of the bar association.

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But members of the public service, speaking on background during the budget lockup, noted that the spending cuts were part of a back-office centralization of ministry operations that would not affect front-line services.

Ms. Simmons said the province's court system continues to face a crisis in access and operations. "We would have liked to see new money in justice," she said.

With an election looming, Ms. Simmons said the bar association will be rolling out proposed "low-cost" solutions for the justice system that the next government, whether Liberal or NDP, could advance following the outcome of the May. 14 election.

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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