Alberta will double the number of law students it hires to work in the Crown Prosecution Service from eight to 16 effective immediately.
It will also offer incentives to students interested in working in rural areas.
Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer made the announcement on Monday, saying the move will strengthen the justice system and give Crown prosecutors more time to focus on high-priority files.
“Too many cases have been dropped in the province of Alberta,” Schweitzer said.
“We simply have too many cases not being handled with the due care they need, simply because our prosecutor’s caseload is too high. So making sure we have the right number of students coming into the system is the right decision to make.”
Crown prosecutor Matthew Block said the province’s announcement is a good start, but it won’t have any effect in the short term as the caseload continues to pile up.
“It’s very frustrating both for us and for the victim,” Block said.
“We want to be able to do our job. We want to have the resources to do our job and be able to prosecute all these files, and victims just don’t understand why this would happen… why they get no justice.”
According to Block, retention of prosecutors is another problem since many have left for the private sector due to wage freezes.
The province has committed to hiring 50 new prosecutors in the recent budget.