The last four years has been about the Campbell Liberals reshaping government and the services delivered by government. More and more services that the public came to rely on have been dismantled. Residential Tenancy, Employment Standards and Human Resources have all severely cut back on the number of offices and services. Court Services were also cut and until recently, some of the cuts were avoided in 100 Mile House.
Prior to 2002 100 Mile House had a court house. That was changed by Geoff Plant, the Attorney General in his budget cutting exercise eleiminated the court. Donna Barnett, 100 Mile Mile House Mayor and Snowmobile Queen faught back and had a circuit court set up, the next best thing.
In the passed two and half years people in 100 Mile House could go in and get help filing papers, and pay fines. That all came to an end on February 1, 2005. It seems the Circuit Court was not suppose to be providing these services. 100 Mile House residents will now have to travel to Williams lake to pay court ordered fines.
Heidi Zetzsche, president of the Cariboo Bar Association, said in the 100 Mile Free Press that prior to Feb. 1 100 Mile area residents were able to receive assistance with many tasks. "For almost two years they were able, without any reduction in staffing in Williams Lake, to send two staff members to 100 Mile House as a circuit court, help the public, take court documents in for filing, and all of a sudden, for whatever reason, they decided whoops, we shouldn't have let that happen," said Zetzsche.
Whoops is right. Seems the service levels were out of sync with the what should be offered in a circuit court like 100 Mile House has.
Helen Pedneault, the assistant deputy minister for Court Services with the Ministry of the Attorney General, told the 100 Mile Free Press those registry services are not meant to be in B.C. circuit courts. "In a staffed permanent courthouse, there are three classifications of service: there is security, there is registry services and there is trial support," said Pedneault.
"In a circuit court scenario where the prosecutors and the judiciary and the support staff from the court travel out to the location, they're travelling to provide the trial support services and the security services, not the registry services. So what has happened in 100 Mile House has basically been a bit of a blurring of what the services are that we are funded to provide."
Bob Girvin, the good guy register in Williams Lake overseeing the 100 Mile House Court Services is just trying to meet his budget and follow directions from on high. I know Bob and it would not be like him not to provide the best possible service. He is restricted from doing so as you read in the statement above from the the Assistant Deputy Minister.
What's evident to Zetzsche is that 100 Mile area residents are being inconvenienced by a reduction in service. "There is a mission statement from the attorney general, and part of it says that the goal is to provide effective legal services enabling the government to provide and administer public affairs in accordance with the law," said Zetzsche. "Doesn't 'effective legal services' include assisting the public?"