We Need to Get Family Justice Services and A2J on to the Political Agenda: The View from British Columbia

I have just returned from three days in British Columbia (Victoria and Vancouver) spent talking about the SRL Phenomenon – the numbers, its impact, and what kinds of change are needed to even begin to address the crisis in justice services.

I spoke with government officers and staff, lawyers, law students, judges and mediators. I was ably assisted in communicating the urgency of the problem by three local SRLs from the NSRLP Speakers Bank (thank you to Jennifer Muller, Liz Dohan and Helen Smythe).

With its history of innovation, it is difficult not to imagine that British Columbia might in fact be able to take some national leadership on the A2J Crisis and the SRL Phenomenon.

For the last decade, most of the truly radical thinking and innovation in justice services has come out of BC – for example, significant reforms in the BC Family Law Reform Act, the development of the Justice Access Centres and Family Justice Centres, and the nascent Civil Resolutions Tribunal, the only on-line and self-representation tribunal model in Canada.

But it is a sign of the enormous challenge of change that in BC, just as in other parts of Canada where I have been having this conversation over the last 9 months, there is a pervasive sense of fatigue, impatience and exasperation among those doing the heavy lifting in pressing for change.

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