FREDERICTON (GNB) – The hours of operation for the provincial courts in Tracadie and Caraquet will be adjusted in response to data collected by the Department of Justice and Attorney General that shows court usage has been declining.

Since 2012, the number of charges being filed with the provincial court has dropped by 48 per cent in Tracadie and 35 per cent in Caraquet.

“It is evident that the demand for court services on the Acadian Peninsula has declined significantly over the past decade,” said Justice Minister and Attorney General Andrea Anderson-Mason. “Despite diminishing court volumes in Caraquet and Tracadie and pressures in relation to resources, we have worked hard to find a solution that will allow us to keep these courts open, while making better use of the capacity in our system.”

The new operating schedule, which takes effect in early August, will vary week-to-week based on the number of hearings needed per provincial court.

“These changes will have no effect on the quality and accessibility of court services being provided to residents of the Acadian Peninsula,” said Anderson-Mason. “We have said all along that we want to make evidence-based decisions that allow us to improve services for residents.”

The changes will allow the department to enhance services for families by reinvesting resources in a child-support recalculation service. This service will allow parents who have separated to update child support amounts based on changes to income without involving the courts. This will result in a less costly process for parents and reduce the burden on the court system. This service is expected to roll out during the current fiscal year.