Canadian Bar Association British Columbia

Canadian Bar Association British Columbia

October 22, 2012 19:58 ET

Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch Responds to White Paper on Justice Reform

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Oct. 22, 2012) - The Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch (CBABC) President Kerry Simmons responded to the Ministry of Justice White Paper on Justice Reform Part One: A Modern, Transparent Justice System (http://www.justicebc.ca/shared/pdfs/WhitePaperOne.pdf) today stating, "The White Paper is an important step in the process of engaging all justice system stakeholders in the urgent work of improving BC's justice system, and we look forward to continuing dialogue on these issues among all partners in the administration of justice."

"We are pleased to see that the Ministry of Justice has proposed a timeline for taking steps to address the significant strains and backlog in BC's courts," added Ms Simmons. "However, today's announcement is noticeably silent on details of the additional financial resources needed to support these proposed reforms. Of specific concern, the government has ignored the recommendation both of Geoff Cowper, QC, and of the Canadian Bar Association, that additional judges be immediately appointed to address the huge backlog of cases at risk of being dismissed due to delay. We are concerned that the proposed action plans to reduce the backlog and improve case management do not go far enough."

In February 2012, the CBABC was asked to participate to the Government's request for feedback on the state of the justice system in the province. The CBABC formed a nine-person Advisory Panel that produced a comprehensive 60-page report offering 25 recommendations on the issues surrounding justice reform and the need for Legal Aid funding. The report submitted in June, entitled Justice In Time (http://www.cba.org/BC/Initiatives/pdf/CBABC_Submission-Justice_In_Time-Jun_6_2012.pdf), was the combined result of years of research, dialogue, and outreach to all the key stakeholders in the legal system in BC.

As well, in March 2012, the CBABC responded to the Legal Services Society with a submission commenting on their letter entitled "Shaping the Future of Legal Aid and the Justice System in BC" (http://www.cba.org/BC/Initiatives/pdf/LSS_Review_Submission_Mar_31_2012.pdf) providing context, history and detailed recommendations.

"As we clearly stated in our reports, and reiterate today in response to the White Paper, a comprehensive proposal for justice reform is a long- term solution that will fail without funding short-term interventions to help clear the path for future change" said Ms. Simmons. "That said, today's release of the government's Justice Reform White Paper provides a positive starting point for discussions about long term solutions. We welcome the Paper's action-oriented language and invitation to provide feedback and advice. CBABC will be asking its members, and in particular those who actively participate in family, criminal, civil and constitutional law, to engage in the development of a comprehensive submission in response."

The Canadian Bar Association is the professional organization representing more than 38,000 lawyers, judges and law students in Canada, including 6,800 members in British Columbia.

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