VANCOUVER, BC (February 28, 2023) – The Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch (CBABC) acknowledges the BC government’s commitment to funding 15 Indigenous Justice Centres as proposed in the First Nations Justice Strategy. CBABC has been calling for funding to support the implementation of the Strategy since it was established in 2020 to address the over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system.
Unfortunately, critical gaps in funding for justice issues in this year’s budget remain. Many people in B.C. are impacted by higher costs of living and need important upgrades to the systems and institutions meant to help them. Legal aid funding for B.C.’s most vulnerable and digital access to court services remain at the forefront of CBABC’s advocacy to ensure that all British Columbians have access to a justice system that is fair, affordable and effective.
Funding for legal aid must be prioritized so that vulnerable groups – including parents and children in family disputes, members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and mental health patients requiring advocacy – can access and afford the legal services they require. “Despite being an essential public service, the current level of funding and coverage for legal aid falls drastically short of meeting the needs of British Columbians,” said CBABC President, Aleem Bharmal, KC. “The BC government must expand its investment in legal aid to better protect and uphold the rights of citizens, especially the most vulnerable, in times of distress.”
Digital Transformation and Court Modernization
“While some progress is being made to increase British Columbia’s access to the justice system through digitization and virtual connections, funding is still needed to address gaps in province-wide technology, workforce training and information-sharing platforms, which hinder the effectiveness of our justice system,” said Bharmal.
Bharmal continued, “A strong justice system is responsive and accessible to the public it serves. CBABC will continue to advocate for a well-funded justice system that contributes to safer communities and ensures British Columbians can get their legal issues resolved quickly and affordably.”
CBABC is committed to consulting with government and stakeholders to advance meaningful changes in the justice system. Read more in Agenda for Justice 2021 and the CBABC Budget 2023 Submission.
The Canadian Bar Association is the professional organization representing more than 36,000 lawyers, judges and law students across Canada with over 7,600 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 is located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Musqueam First Nations.
Laura Chapman, Media & Communications Coordinator
604.687.5293 ext. 319