News release

Recognizing 10 Years of Wellness Courts in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s longest-running wellness court in Dartmouth is celebrating its 10-year anniversary.

Wellness courts provide an alternative path in the justice system for people whose mental health or substance use disorder is the root cause of their criminal offences. The Dartmouth wellness court brings together professionals to help find a restorative solution for offenders and victims. Participation by the offender is voluntary and requires the individual to take responsibility for their actions.

“Nova Scotia’s wellness courts play a vital role in helping not only individuals, but their families and communities as well,” said Mark Furey, Attorney General and Minister of Justice. “The collaborative and restorative approach of these courts has improved the lives of many people over the past ten years, connecting them to important programs and services and helping set them on a better path forward.”

Unlike the traditional approach of criminal courts, a wellness court develops and administers a support plan that is tailored to the needs of individuals. Each court program is unique based on the needs of the population and the programs and services available in the community.


I have seen firsthand the impact wellness court programs have had in this province, especially on the people who have appeared before me in court as participants. By connecting people to important supports and services like housing and drug treatment, we are enabling them to take responsibility for their actions and helping to put them on a path to wellness and long-term success. Pamela Williams, Chief Judge, provincial and family courts of Nova Scotia

Quick Facts:

  • the Dartmouth wellness court held its first session on Nov. 5, 2009
  • there are now wellness courts in Amherst, Dartmouth, Kentville, Port Hawkesbury and Wagmatcook First Nation, Victoria Co., with another program under development in Bridgewater and Truro
  • the court’s collaborative approach includes professionals from the Departments of Health and Wellness, Community Services and Justice, along with the judiciary, legal aid, Nova Scotia Health Authority, victim services, community organizations and others

Additional Resources:

To learn about the Dartmouth Wellness Court, visit:


Media Contact:

Sarah Levy MacLeod
902-478-3229 Email: