On June 8, 2020, Jennifer Brun, as First Vice President of the CBABC, presented the CBABC’s request to the province’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services to allocate funding and to accelerate the work of the Court Digital Transformation Strategy (“CDTS”). The CBABC takes the position that the CDTS is a key component necessary to increase access to justice as an essential service for all British Columbians. The CDTS will enable British Columbians, no matter where they live in the province, to access the courts and justice services using digital technology.
The CDTS includes providing physical spaces to digitally access the courts and justice services from smaller and remote communities across the province, including Indigenous communities. Developed over the course of a year through the collaboration of representatives from the Court Services Branch, all three levels of BC’s courts, and users of the system including Indigenous peoples, legal professionals, and the Office of the Chief Information Officer, the CDTS incorporates:
- remote appearances via phone and video for pre-trial hearings in criminal, civil, and family matters;
- digital information-sharing platforms, so that the system is not reliant on paper documents; and
- a digitally-skilled workforce, which requires training of the existing workforce and establishing new jobs for people with digital skills to support the justice system.
The CBABC underscored the point that the pandemic and its impact on the operation of BC’s justice system, shone a glaring light on the inadequacy of the current digital infrastructure in the province where the courts and justice services are concerned. The CBABC argues that this situation must be rectified to allow increased public confidence in our justice system, improve access to justice and justice resources, and to make efficient and effective use of the limited resources available. While the pandemic revealed the cracks in our system, it also revealed that digital tools are a key way that we can repair that infrastructure to better serve the needs of all British Columbians.
Read the full presentation here.
Following this video hearing, written submissions are being finalized and will be provided to government by the deadline of June 26, with the expectation that government will accelerate the implementation of the CDTS with emergency funding in the meantime and allocate much needed funding to the CDTS in Budget 2021.