Small Change for Law Reform

When was the last time you got a great deal for less than 25 cents? If you’re looking for excellent value for money, consider the work of law reform agencies.

Law reform publications are a great resource for legal research. Michel-Adrien Sheppard regularly posts updates on Slaw on the work of Canadian and international law reform agencies. Kim Nayyer has also highlighted the value of law reform publications in legal research.

Canadian law reform agencies produce a range of informative, well-researched publications every year. Although some international law reform agencies overseas now charge a fee for hard copy publications, most Canadian agencies still provide them for free – including postage. Free and low cost access to law reform publications has been possible due to the funding structure that supports most agencies.

In most Canadian jurisdictions, law reform work is funded by grants from the provincial government and the local law foundation. This funding structure recognises the public benefit in having a law reform agency at arm’s length from government. The funding structure also represents a relatively low cost for each person who stands to benefit from law reform. For example, on a per capita basis, average government funding to the western law reform agencies for the period 2007 to 2012 works out to:

  • British Columbia $0.02
  • Saskatchewan $0.04
  • Manitoba $0.08
  • Alberta $0.14

Law foundation funding averaged over the same period brings the per capita funding rate up to:

  • British Columbia $0.08
  • Saskatchewan $0.10
  • Manitoba $0.18
  • Alberta $0.39

Immeasurable value is also provided by volunteers from the profession who contribute hundreds of hours each year to specific law reform projects or as agency board members or commissioners.

A small amount of funding per capita and the contributions of volunteers all add up to excellence in legal research and policy analysis. A comprehensive list of links to Canadian and international law reform agencies is available through the Alberta Law Reform Institute.

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