‘It was like a kick in the guts’
Less than an hour after he got the news his job will be eliminated, a Harbour Grace provincial court sheriff’s officer had a hard time expressing how devastated he felt.
“It was like a kick in the guts,” he said this afternoon shortly after provincial Finance Minister Cathy Bennett announced that as part of the Liberal’s 2016 budget, the court would be closing.
The sheriff’s officer — who asked that his name not be published — had just arrived home from work. Before leaving court, he said he and a few others received a letter from their manager, giving them the news of the shutdown.
“While not immediate, this will have a direct impact on your position,” he said, reading the letter aloud.
As the sound of crumpled paper could be heard over the phone, he added, “They haven’t officially given us our notice, but they’re basically telling us it’s going to happen.”
He said while he will likely be repositioned in the province since he has more seniority than many other sheriff’s officers in the union, it will still mean the loss of three jobs.
“I might be OK, but someone is going to lose their job. We’re going to lose at least three people,” he said. “This is rough.”
Harbour Grace provincial court will be one of four courts closing across the province, Bennett announced.
The provincial court in Wabush will also be shutting its doors, along with Newfoundland Supreme Courts in Grand Bank and Grand FallsWindsor.
“I guess all those election promises are out the window,” the sheriff’s officer said.
A provincial court clerk in St. John’s told The Telegram she was “totally shocked” to hear the news of the court closures.
“I’m seriously blown away,” said the woman, who also wanted to remain anonymous.
“For people in those courts to find out today that they don’t have a job anymore - wow, it’s awful.”
In her speech in the House of Assembly today, Bennett said the government will save approximately $ 1.3 million annually by restructuring the court system, which includes the closures, in consultation with the judiciary.
It’s left many people wondering what else the restructuring entails and how it will affect staff.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty,” she said. “Until they give us details, everybody’s on edge here. It’s really upsetting.”
Meanwhile, the government announced it would expand Unified Family Court, which Bennett said would result in “more cases being heard and fewer delays.”