The Canadian Bar Association British Columbia

The Canadian Bar Association British Columbia

March 02, 2010 18:37 ET

Provincial Budget 2010/2011-Ongoing Justice System Challenges, but No Major Cuts

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - March 2, 2010) - In the face of continued strain on BC's justice system, and in particular the courts, CBABC President James Bond acknowledged the provincial government's efforts in Budget 2010/2011 to support public confidence in, and access to, justice.

"Our grave concern was that there would be additional cuts to funding for legal services to those most vulnerable in our society," said Mr. Bond. "There is no question that people who should be receiving legal aid today are prevented from doing so by virtue of the current resources available to the Legal Services Society and other organizations providing legal aid. Any additional cuts would have been devastating."

"We recognize that this is a challenging budget year and that the Ministry of Attorney General and Treasury Board have worked hard to protect justice system funding. At the same time, we know that additional funds are needed to protect access to justice as comprehensively as we do access to health services and education, regardless of a person's financial means. CBABC has committed to work with community groups, justice system partners and elected representatives to review the current legal aid system and to provide public input to support future funding decisions."

"We do have concerns about this budget's emphasis on additional funding for police without concurrent increases in funding for court services and judiciary. More police activity results in increased demand on the court system, and the court requires more resources to adequately respond. There are long delays in many of BC's courts already, particularly outside of the lower Mainland, in large part due to shortages in judiciary and court staff resources. We were, however, heartened to see increased funding for prosecution and civil legal services, given the important role of Crown Counsel in the effective working of the legal system."

The Canadian Bar Association is the professional organization representing more than 38,000 lawyers, judges and law students in Canada, including 6,500 members in British Columbia.

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