VANCOUVER, BC - (February 23, 2022) – The Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch recognizes the commitments made by the BC government in Budget 2022 to advance Indigenous reconciliation and make life more affordable for families, while continuing to manage the ongoing effects of COVID-19 and impacts of climate change.
CBABC applauds the commitment to invest $12M over three years to create a Declaration Act Secretariat but urges the government to go further. “One of the BC government’s biggest priorities should be adequate funding for the implementation of DRIPA into provincial law reform,” said CBABC President Clare Jennings. “To advance meaningful reconciliation, it is essential that the work of the Secretariat produces tangible results for Indigenous communities.”
The pandemic required many court processes to shift online. The government has committed a total of $12M to continue implementing this digital strategy. However, CBABC has advocated that more is required to ensure access to remote appearances for pre-trial hearings, digital information-sharing platforms, and court services staffing. In addition to creating efficiencies, further funding would ensure no one is left behind as the justice system implements a more modern approach to serving British Columbians.
Expanding the reach of legal aid services is another essential priority for British Columbians. “The BC Government has promised to make life more affordable for families. Equal access to legal services ensures that some of B.C.’s most vulnerable are supported in the legal system,” said Jennings. “Once again, there has been no increase to the scope of family law services though legal aid.”
CBABC will continue to advocate for families and work with the government to expand eligibility and coverage limits for legal aid. Jennings warned, “The families that need legal aid, but are currently not eligible, are left to navigate the legal system on their own.”
“With so many critical issues at the forefront, it’s important to not overlook the significant positive impact of a well-funded legal system, and its ability to truly help people,” said Jennings. “In any three-year period, 45 per cent of Canadians are faced with a legal issue. Adequate funding for justice services and infrastructure directly impacts British Columbians in every part of the province.”
CBABC welcomes the opportunity to consult with government and stakeholders to achieve meaningful change and will continue to hold the government accountable to advance the justice system and protect society’s most vulnerable citizens, as outlined in Agenda for Justice 2021.
The Canadian Bar Association is the professional organization representing more than 36,000 lawyers, judges and law students across Canada with over 7,300 members in British Columbia. CBABC members practice at the forefront of the justice system, providing services to British Columbians in every area of law.
CBABC’s advocacy initiatives are outlined in Agenda for Justice 2021, or read more about CBABC’s BC Budget 2022 Submission.
To arrange an interview with CBABC President, Clare Jennings, please contact:
Sylvie Kotyk, Communications & Marketing Manager