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Alberta Justice makes cuts forcing victims to bring own tissues, water to court

Sources told Global News that water and tissues would be removed from Alberta courtrooms as a cost-saving measure.
Sources told Global News that water and tissues would be removed from Alberta courtrooms as a cost-saving measure. Water: EPA Nic Bothma; Tissues: Kaylen Small/Global News

Alberta Justice will not be supplying people in courtrooms with water or tissues effective immediately, sources confirmed to Global News on Tuesday.

The move to reduce spending in the department will result in victims, police, prosecutors and defence lawyers being required to supply their own tissues and water.

READ MORE: About 90 lawyers cut from Alberta Legal Services as part of government downsizing

Ian Savage, president of the Calgary-based Criminal Defence Lawyers Association, said the move by Alberta Justice court administration is ridiculous.

“There [are] budget cuts and there’s silliness, and this obviously falls into the line of silliness,” he said.

“The court system, like any other public system, has people coming into it that have basic human needs. Just like toilet paper, running water and soap in the washrooms of the courthouse, individuals that come to the courthouse to participate in the justice system — be it the lawyers, the judges or witnesses — need to drink water in order to carry on in a normal function.”

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READ MORE: ‘We’re at a critical point’: Alberta prosecutors too overloaded to take cases to trial

Savage said many people already buy their own water but the concern would be for witnesses.

“Most witnesses are standing for potentially hours at a time, talking and answering questions in an unfamiliar setting, and to be without water is just silly. The tissues as well,” he said.

Savage said the person most likely to need a tissue in the courthouse is a complainant in a serious case, like a sexual assault, that is becoming emotional.

“[They are] having to recount the trauma they’ve gone through, and that’s the person who the government wants to take the tissues away from, which, again, I said is silliness at the extreme,” he said.​

– With files from Global News’ Nancy Hixt