Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for the ‘Justice Issues’ Columns

A New Call to Action to Improve Access to Justice

At a UN summit in 2015, world leaders identified 17 universal threats to the well-being, safety and advancement of people worldwide and to environmental sustainability. The result was the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Officially in effect since January 2016, the SDGs aim to galvanize national and international efforts around an agenda that promotes equity, empowerment and certain fundamental rights and improvements. The target date to reach these goals is 2030.[1]

Notable for the justice community is the addition of Goal 16, which has the object to: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Legal and Community Partners Supporting Each Other to Help People With Legal Needs

When people are dealing with a legal problem they often don’t approach a lawyer as their first step. Frequently, people go to a source they’re in closer contact with: frontline staff working in local community-based organizations.

Frontline workers are people working in settlement agencies, housing or health support, libraries, community centres, and in many other community services. They listen attentively, show empathy, and try their best to refer clients in the right direction. Frontline workers get to know their clients’ circumstances and their larger set of problems. In some cases, they share languages and cultural backgrounds with their clients. Their . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Can There Be Reconciliation in an Adversarial Process? Access to Justice, Reconciliation and the Role of the Government Lawyer

The dispute resolution processes created pursuant to the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) have been described as both significant and historical. While together, these processes represent an important shift in how we think about resolving systemic and historic mass harms, these processes also challenge us to once again ask important questions — What constitutes access to justice in certain contexts? What is the role and responsibility of lawyers in furthering access to justice in those contexts? And is that role and responsibility different for government lawyers?

The example of the independent assessment process (”IAP”) at St. Anne’s Residential School . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Civic Engagement and Community Collaboration: A New Model on Access to Justice Improvements

Calls for access to justice improvements stress the importance of public-centered, multidisciplinary approaches. We know that in order to make the justice system more accessible, we need to diversify the problem solvers and our approaches. In response to this, The Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG) recently began working with Civic Tech Toronto in an effort to develop work that operates from the intersection of civic engagement, technology and law.

Civic Tech Toronto is a vibrant community-driven, volunteer organization that organizes weekly “meetups” where attendees learn about civic issues, share ideas and expertise, and develop solutions to civic challenges . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Cost of Family Law Disputes

Last year, the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family (CRILF) and the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ) sent out a survey to family lawyers in Canada to get a sense of legal professionals’ preferences around dispute resolution methods and the costs associated with these various avenues. 166 lawyers completed the online survey, the results of which are presented in a newly released report: An Evaluation of the Cost of Family Law Disputes: Measuring the Cost Implication of Various Dispute Resolution Methods.

This research is a sub-project of the CFCJ’s larger, multi-year Cost of Justice project, which . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Access to Justice Is More Than Just Access to Courts: Youth Justice and the New Toronto Courthouse

Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General is building a new courthouse in Toronto that will combine most of the city’s criminal courts, including all three youth courts, in one location downtown. Designed by a world-renowned architect and filled with technological innovation, it is being celebrated as a step forward for access to justice in the city. But access to justice is not just about access to a courtroom. It is about access to outcomes—outcomes that provide the most vulnerable groups, such as youth in conflict with the law, with the support they need to work towards more positive futures.

As . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Upholding the Law of the Land

When it comes to implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, lawyers have unique responsibilities; Calls to Action 27, 28, 29 and 50 are particularly instructive. Today, my colleague Maxine Hayman Matilpi and I reflect on what this means for us as legally trained individuals, our public interest law organization and legal pluralism in Canada.

Trish Monture asserts in Thunder in My Soul: A Mohawk Woman Speaks:

Every oppression that has been foisted upon Aboriginal people in the history of Canada has been implemented through [colonial law] . . . This includes child welfare apprehension, residential schools,

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues

The Legal Aid Effect on Health Outcomes

A study recently published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) showed that every dollar spent on social programs is associated with a 0.1% decrease in potentially avoidable mortality and a 0.1% increase in life expectancy. Both results were statistically significant. This analysis of social and health care spending in 9 provinces from 1981 to 2002 concludes that population health outcomes would be improved if government spending were reallocated from health to social spending (“Effect of provincial spending on social services and health care on health outcomes in Canada: an observational longitudinal study”, Daniel J. Dutton et al, . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Trending: The Digital Justice Filter Bubble

Attend any conference on digital justice and you’ll hear about smart systems, expert systems and solution explorers, you’ll be told that eBay’s automated dispute resolution program resolves over 65 million cases each year. Access to justice, 24/7, in your pyjamas. Modern and efficient, it gives people what they want.

The future’s so bright, you better wear shades.

Then come the Q and A’s, and someone asks about individuals who don’t have computers, who aren’t computer literate, who won’t be able to effectively represent themselves no matter the amount of online information. “Of course” comes the standard response, “we will need . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Reputational Harm of Legal Blogging

No, not the author’s reputation. The subject’s.

In early December, the Americans celebrated legal blogging with the ABA Journal Web 100, and on December 31st, Canada did likewise with the 2017 Clawbies. In between, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPCC) posted a summary of submissions received in its ongoing study into the privacy issues surrounding Online Reputation. Legal blogging wasn’t explicitly mentioned, but it’s hard to see how the subject can be avoided.

The original consultation document notes that “dating sites, sites that re-post court and tribunal decisions, and, overwhelmingly, the so-called . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Learning From BC’s Troubling Experiments With “Professional Reliance” in Environmental (De)Regulation

Asking questions about professional reliance in BC

BC’s new NDP government recently announced a wide-ranging review of “professional reliance.” Environment and Climate Change Minister, George Heyman, was accompanied at the announcement by Green MLA Sonia Furstenau, who has been on the forefront of pressing for this review after her own experience (prior to her election) in opposing contaminated soil disposal in her own community.

West Coast Environmental Law welcomes this review, which has the potential to improve legal protection for human health and the environment by addressing a major approach to deregulation that has been implemented in BC over the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

To Build Public Support for Access to Civil Justice We Have to Let the Public Know That Access to Justice Is for Them Too

The results of two recent studies in the U.S. have used public opinion data to suggest that increasing public support for access to civil justice is a promising way to increase government funding.[1] The argument is that if the civil legal aid system[2] is viewed by the middle class as a program that could benefit them if they encounter trouble, rather than being only for the poor, a wider segment of the public will have a stake in access to justice and they will support higher levels of public funding. The question of how much public pressure would . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues