“[T]he Courts Administration budget represents a mere 0.54% of the total Ontario Government budget for the year, a percentage which has remained relatively constant for the past number of years.” – Ontario Civil Justice Review, 1996
Do you know how much the Ontario government spends on the justice system a year? Do you know precisely how it is allocated? Could you state with confidence how much of it goes to: judges’ salaries, office space, assistants, maintaining courthouses, registrars, court reporters, clerks, librarians, legal counsel, and so on? Could you state with confidence how much is budgeted for the different regions within Ontario?
We should be able to type into Google keywords and be taken directly to a clear breakdown of the province’s budget for the courts. We should be able to know exactly how much is spent, where precisely it goes, and when the funds come into effect. The justice system is indispensable to a functioning democracy.
I suspect that times remain similar to 1996, where only half of a percent of the total Ontario government’s yearly budget is spent on the administration of the courts. However, finding a detailed account remains difficult, if not impossible, even though we are entitled to know precisely how funds are divided. The 2014-2015 Ministry Results-Based Plan is insufficiently detailed. The operating and capital summary provides figures for things like “Court Services” and “Legal Services” and merely states that the overall Ministry Total Operating and Capital Assets is $267,266,829. It does not explain with precision where monies are being allocated.
How is it okay that the latest article critically analyzing spending on the court system on the Ministry of Attorney General’s website is from 1996? 20 years ago. We deserve better. We deserve full and detailed disclosure on the Court Administration budget.
Further, how is it okay that the provincial government allocates about half of a percent of its total yearly budget to the administration of the courts, a pillar of our democracy?