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About the Department

The Department of Justice and Public Safety is responsible for the dual offices of:

The Attorney General, who is responsible for:

  • Administering criminal justice in the province, and the prosecution of all offenses under the Criminal Code of Canada, and the statutes of Newfoundland and Labrador;
  • Representing the Crown in matters of civil litigation;
  • Providing legal services to all government departments and agencies;
  • Representing the Crown where public rights of concern to the provincial government are being questioned;
  • Providing advice to government on proposed legislation, carrying out studies for the reform of law, and providing legislative drafting services for the government;
  • Providing access to legal aid to those persons who are eligible.

The Minister of Justice and Public Safety, who is responsible for:

  • Administering court services;
  • Administering correctional systems;
  • Administering police protection.



The mandate of the Department of Justice and Public Safety derives primarily from the Executive Council Act. This mandate reflects the dual responsibilities of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General for Newfoundland and Labrador. While several other Canadian jurisdictions have separate ministries for Justice and Attorney General, the structure is consolidated in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Department of Justice and Public Safety responsibilities involve administering the province’s legal system. The principal components include family justice services, fines administration, support enforcement, policing, sheriff’s office, adult secure custody, adult probation services, secure youth justice services, victim services, fish and wildlife enforcement and administration of the courts. 

Reflecting the role and authority of the Attorney General, the Department of Justice and Public Safety provides legal services to the Crown including legal advice to departments, litigation, prosecution and legislative drafting services. While the Executive Council Act is the primary legislative authority for the Department of Justice and Public Safety mandate, the policies, services and programs are also governed by 100 pieces of legislation, which the Department of Justice and Public Safety is responsible for administering.


Mission Statement


By March 31, 2017, the Department of Justice and Public Safety will have enhanced services and responses to improve public protection and access to justice in a manner that is sensitive to the diverse needs of its clients.


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Lines of Business: 

  • Civil Division is responsible for providing legal services to Provincial Government departmentsand agencies. These services include providing legal opinions, drafting commercial and financial documents, and representing the Provincial Government and its agencies in negotiations and civil actions before administrative tribunals, all levels of court and judicial inquiries.
  • Corrections and Community Services has responsibility for offenders, as well as for victims of crime. It is responsible for the safe and secure custody of young and adult offenders, for providing adult community corrections in the form of probation services, and for providing services to victimsof crime.
  • Court Services is responsible for providing infrastructure and administrative support to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Family Justice Services is responsible for promoting dispute resolution outside the Court process in helping families resolve separation and divorce issues. The program assists parties in resolving custody,access and child support issues and offers parent information sessions, mediation, counselling, as well as recalculation of child support.
  • Office of the Legislative Counsel provides legislative drafting services to government. Additionally, in conjunction with the Office of the Queen’s Printer and the House of Assembly, it ensures the publication and dissemination of provincial legislation.
  • Policing Services are delivered through the province’s two policing agencies: the RNC and the RCMP.Through a broad range of policing services, both police forces are responsible for fostering and maintaining peaceful and safe communities.
  • Additional Enforcement Services include: the Office of the High Sheriff, which provides administrative,jury and security services to the Supreme and Provincial Courts; the Support Enforcement Program,which collects and distributes court-ordered funds for support; and the Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Division, which focuses on protecting the province’s valuable fish and wildlife resources.
  • Public Prosecutions is responsible for prosecuting all offences pursuant to the Criminal Code of Canada and provincial statutes. Prosecutors appear in every level of court in the province and in the Supreme Court of Canada. Public Prosecutions also provides legal opinions and advice on criminal and criminal-related matters to policing agencies and other government departments that enforce provincial statutes.

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In 2013-14, the department employed more than 1,573 individuals, including the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC). The overall gender breakdown for staffing in the department is approximately 48 per cent female and 52 per cent male. Additionally, pursuant to the Provincial Policing Services Agreement and the Community Tripartite Agreements, in 2013-14 the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) employed approximately 431 officers and approximately 110 civilian members and support staff to provide frontline policing services in approximately 49 detachments throughout the province. Department of Justice and Public Safety officials and employees are situated throughout the province.

The Department of Justice and Public Safety employs lawyers, police officers, social workers, psychologists, counsellors, correctional officers, youth care counsellors, deputy sheriffs, fish and wildlife enforcement officers, information management specialists, administrators, financial managers, nurses, educators and administrative support staff. Efforts continue towards employment equity within sectors of
justice that have historically been composed of disproportionate numbers of males to females


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The People We Serve

At the broadest level, the general public is the largest client group for the Department of Justice and Public Safety. The general public relies on the effectiveness and efficiency of the justice system to protect people’s fundamental rights, liberties and freedoms. This occurs through the full range of services and interventions available through all lines of business. Sometimes this may involve direct interventions and services to particular individuals or groups of individuals, while at other times it may mean broad ranging legal protections that serve to support a free, stable and democratic society.

Government itself is a significant Department of Justice and Public Safety client. Civil law services are provided to government departments and agencies in the form of legal advice as well as representation in litigation. Legislative drafting services are provided by the Office of the Legislative Counsel.

At the individual level, those who are accused or convicted of criminal offenses are clearly identified recipients of Department of Justice and Public Safety services and interventions. Victims of criminal offenses are also receiving increased attention and expanded service within the justice system. Victims and/or offenders may require the intervention of police, court services, prosecutions, legal aid, victim services or corrections at various times throughout the justice process. Clients of Support Enforcement rely on this program to enforce court support orders and to ensure timely disbursement of amounts owing to them through these orders.

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