A commissioner with the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission says budget cuts will increase the time it takes to deal with a complaint from just under a year to about three years.
"That's a lifetime, really, from the day that you issue a complaint against an employer until the time it's heard," said John Walsh. "If that takes three years, people have often moved on very significantly in their lives and things have changed a lot so that's unacceptably long, in our view as commissioners."
Walsh said the commission's budget has been slashed to $660,000, down from $1.2-million just two years ago, and that the commission will soon have just six staff members, down from 11 two years ago.
Commissioner questions government priorities
Walsh said the cuts show that the provincial government does not consider the commission's work a priority.
"It's just hard to deduce that there's anything but a considerable reduction in priority in human rights," said Walsh. "And the problem with that is it's not that we see ourselves as any better or more important than any other part of justice, other than we definitely do view our work as being different. We're representing the most vulnerable segments of populations."
Walsh said the budget cut will also mean that the commission will not be able to do any outreach or mediation work.
"You don't have to a be a rocket scientist to figure out that's a pretty deep cut."