9 more judges appointed in B.C.
The B.C. government has appointed nine new judges following repeated complaints that there are not enough judges to handle the caseload in the provincial court system.
Four of the judges have been appointed in the Lower Mainland, two in Prince George, and one each in Nanaimo, Smithers and Penticton.
The appointments follow warnings from the Chief Justice of B.C. Robert Bauman that the judicial system is nearing a "tipping point" because of a shortage of funding and judges to properly hear cases.
A recent report found judges threw out 109 cases due to delays last year, almost double the number from 2010.
It also found there are about 2,500 criminal cases that have been before the provincial court for 18 months or more – a 25-per-cent increase over the year before.
The government says it has appointed 23 new judges over the past year. According to the Ministry of the Attorney General each new judge and the associated staff, sheriffs and other services costs about $1.4 million per year.
"In the coming days, we'll be looking very closely at larger reform of the system and specifically how we can find efficiencies and long-term solutions to the pressures our courts are facing, instead of just looking at more funding as the only answer," said Attorney General Shirley Bond in a statement issued on Tuesday.
But NDP justice critic Leonard Krog says the Liberals intend to make further cuts in funding in the Criminal Justice Branch budget.
"The extensive cuts the Liberals have made to the justice system over the years has resulted in the dramatic increase in judicial stays of youth and criminal cases that we’re seeing in B.C. courtrooms today," said Krog.
"We spend millions at the front lines, yet when criminals are brought to court and the system takes over, cases fall apart without the necessary resources in place."
Krog also raised concerns about increased costs associated with the federal Conservatives' new crime bill.