THE Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch on Wednesday released Agenda for Justice 2021, a roadmap for action to improve BC’s justice system and modernize provincial legislation to make a tangible difference for British Columbia’s families, businesses and communities.
The CBABC said that like many aspects of our lives, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on our justice systems and exposed long-standing issues, including the urgent need for modernization. While the initial responses to the pandemic prompted some overdue changes, there is much more that needs to be done.
“We want British Columbians to be able to access the justice system to resolve issues in a timely and effective way—so that matters are dealt with impartially, swiftly and before they become more serious,” said Jennifer J.L. Brun, CBABC President. “Agenda for Justice presents concrete suggestions where the legal community and the BC Government can work collaboratively to move families and communities forward.”
Agenda for Justice offers more than 40 recommendations in 22 key areas, touching on everyday situations affecting people in BC—families undergoing a separation, small businesses settling a contract dispute, and rural communities without access to basic legal services.
“We tend to think of the justice system as being the police, courts and prisons. And when we discuss legal systems, we talk of legislation and rules of conduct. But these systems are much more than that—they are about people and their everyday problems,” said Brun.
Highlights from Agenda for Justice 2021 include:
- Providing support for families who are navigating family court or the child protection system.
- Ensuring fair treatment of vulnerable residents such as low-income families, Indigenous peoples, the LGBTQ2S+ community, seniors and mental health detainees.
- Addressing the major flaws in rural access exposed by the COVID pandemic.
- Improving court efficiency by streamlining scheduling systems, staffing and technology.
- Modernizing outdated laws governing commercial leases and contracts, limitation periods, reverse mortgages and wrongful death compensation.
“Decades-long underfunding and understaffing have led to long delays in the administration of justice. These issues were always apparent, but a year into the COVID-19 pandemic has made them impossible to ignore,” said Brun. “We now have a unique opportunity to make significant changes that ensure access to justice and fairness for all British Columbians.”
For more information on Agenda for Justice 2021, visit cbabc.org/A4J.