As a result of today's announcement of the 1996-97 Provincial Government budget, there will be a centralization of Provincial Court administrative services which will result in the closure of Court offices in Woody Point and Port aux Basques. As a result of analysing court activity patterns at each court centre, it was determined that administrative functions at these centres could be assumed by two court centres in close geographic proximity without affecting their level of judicial service.
Effective immediately, the court centre in Port aux Basques will be merged with the court centre in Stephenville and the court centre in Woody Point will be merged with the court centre in Corner Brook. The Wabush court centre will now be reduced to half time.
Government has worked to use remaining resources efficiently in order to maintain a high level of service to the public of Newfoundland and Labrador. The level of service, in terms of court sittings, will continue as the judge and staff will travel to the locations being closed. Court sessions will continue to be held in a similar vein as they do now and people in these communities will not have to travel to attend a court hearing. The services that will no longer be offered in Port aux Basques and Woody Point are those that are obtained at the front counters of the court centres. These include payment of fines and the filing of court documents. All these functions of the court will now have to be done by way of visit, telephone, mail or fax to the nearest court location. This is consistent with what currently happens in every community in Newfoundland that does not have a court office in their community.
Full service court centres, with resident judiciary, remain in 10 centres across Newfoundland and Labrador. These courts are located in St. John's, Harbour Grace, Placentia, Clarenville, Gander, Grand Falls, Grand Bank, Stephenville, Corner Brook and Goose Bay. An administrative court office, with no resident judge, will remain in Wabush and Springdale. Circuit courts, where a judge and a court reporter routinely visit the centre to extend judicial services, will continue to be held in communities all across Newfoundland and Labrador.