VANCOUVER – The Canadian Bar Association BC Branch (CBABC), on behalf of its 6,400 members of the legal profession, calls on the Government of British Columbia to use the upcoming Budget to respond to the current economic crisis by strengthening the “third pillar” of Canadian society: the justice system.
“British Columbians have struggled for years with a chronically under funded system, bolstered by thousands of hours of free and reduced-fee services by lawyers. Now the current economic situation is bringing the crisis to a head,” said CBABC President Miriam Maisonville. “The public loses faith in its justice system when they see that people without means get less access to justice than those who can afford more.”
Specifically, CBABC calls on government to take the following steps to strengthen the justice system and reduce financial barriers to accessing justice:
Provide legal aid funding that matches the increased demand and reduced revenue sources of the Legal Services Society
Reduce the court fees charged to the public
Ensure that reform of court procedures reduce cost and increase accessibility
Eliminate the 7% provincial tax on legal services, which is not charged on any other professional service accessed by the public.
“We know that people are struggling in the current economic crisis, and that there is increased demand on the justice system as a result,” said Ms. Maisonville. “It is the role of government to provide the necessary public infrastructure to help the province through this crisis, and that includes urgent investment in BC’s justice system.”
The Canadian Bar Association is the professional organization representing more than 39,000 lawyers, judges and law students in Canada, including 6,400 members in British Columbia.