Legal aid, court modernization, Indigenous reconciliation and further ‘Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act’ implementation
THE Legislative Assembly of B.C.’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services has included a number of the priority issues in its February 2022 Provincial Budget consultation report that were highlighted by the Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch in its budget submission to government.
“We are pleased to see all four core CBABC recommendations included in the report, including increased scope and eligibility for family law legal aid, which is a key focus for our members,” said CBABC President Clare Jennings. “Many people are left on their own to navigate the legal system, with women and children being the most affected by the lack of legal assistance.”
Adopted in the consultation report were recommendations to advance the use of technology to modernize B.C.’s courts. As outlined in CBABC’s Agenda for Justice 2021, this issue will feature prominently in upcoming discussions with the Attorney General and Court Services Branch, as efficiencies brought forward during the COVID-19 pandemic could provide long-term benefits for access to the legal system for British Columbians.
“While some investment has been made to modernize the system, there also needs to be infrastructure in place to help people access computers and internet connectivity,” said Jennings. “This concept is especially important in rural and Indigenous communities, many of which have been impacted by the devastating floods and landslides that have indefinitely cut people off from services.”
Additionally, the inclusion of funding for an integrated restorative justice system in Budget 2022 was addressed by the committee. To advance meaningful reconciliation in B.C., CBABC will engage the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation to provide funding for consultations with indigenous peoples about law reform.
As the legislature concluded their fall session this month, CBABC said it will continue its advocacy work over the coming months to ensure recommendations remain top of mind for government ahead of Budget 2022 in the spring.