Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. provincial court judges want pay freeze overturned

Newfoundland and Labrador's provincial court judges want a recent vote by the legislature imposing a retroactive four-year freeze on their salaries overturned.

Application filed at Supreme Court to impose tribunal’s report raising annual salaries to $247K

Newfoundland and Labrador’s provincial court judges want a decision by the legislature retroactively freezing their salaries overturned. (Supplied)

Newfoundland and Labrador's provincial court judges want a recent vote by the legislature imposing a retroactive four-year freeze on their salaries overturned.

In court filings, the judges say the government has "violated the constitutional principles of judicial independence" by not accepting the recommendations of an independent tribunal.

They say they are "by far the lowest paid judges in Canada."

The vote of the legislature means provincial court judges will continue to make just under $216,000 a year.

They now want a Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court order to reverse the legislature's decision, and impose the tribunal's salary recommendations.

The tribunal had recommended increases of three per cent in both 2013 and 2014, and bumps of four per cent in each of 2015 and 2016.

That would have raised the judges' annual salaries to more than $247,500.

Instead, the House of Assembly voted to freeze their wages for those years.

"The zero per cent increase for judges is lower than increases received by public servants in the years 2013, 2014 and 2015," the court application notes.

"The zero per cent increase for judges is also unlike the increases enjoyed by the general population within the province."

'Economic realities affect us all'

In the legislature May 26, Justice Minister Andrew Parsons said the province can't afford the recommended raises.

"While we continue to be committed to providing fair and reasonable compensation to provincial court judges, economic realities affect us all," Parsons told the House.

Justice Minister Andrew Parsons said in May that, given the state of the province's finances, the government can't afford to accept the recommended pay raise for judges. (Gary Locke/CBC)

"As the jurisprudence reflects, judges are not shielded from sharing the impact of economic restraint in such serious fiscal circumstances."

Newfoundland and Labrador is forecasting a $1.8-billion deficit this fiscal year, even after jacking up an array of taxes and fees in the spring budget.

The judges' application is due to be heard at Supreme Court later this month.

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