Liberals wants to speed up justice — with no new cash
The B.C. government is hoping a new plan can speed up the pace of justice in the province without requiring it to find new funding for the courts.
Justice Minister and Attorney General Shirley Bond was at Thompson Rivers University on Monday, Oct. 22, to announce a 10-step plan which she said should help modernize the province’s courts and decrease case backlog.
The report comes two months after an independent review of the provincial courts called for a speedier, more transparent justice system.
Bond told media the plan doesn’t include any new funding commitments for the courts or concrete plans to increase the number of judges in the province.
Instead, she said government wants to get a better handle on what’s happening in the courts right now.
While she acknowledge there is an issue of speed in the justice system, Bond said the province doesn’t know, for instance, how long it’s actually taking an average criminal case to go through the courts.
“We don’t know,” she said.
“In B.C. today, we have an unbelievable lack of ability to measure the system because we don’t have the data.”
The report also calls for an embrace of new technologies, better court scheduling and the creation of a new Justice and Public Safety Council, which will be tasked with creating an annual set of goals for the justice system and reporting on its performance to date.
The council will also host yearly justices summits, the first of which is tentatively set for March 2013.
Bond said she’s not ruling out the possibility of adding more funding to the justice system at a later date, but said the government needs to ask questions about how the system is working first — which might allow it to reduce costs.
“For decades I think the answer has always been, ‘Just put more money in’ and it certainly hasn’t solved the backlog issue today,” she said.
“We have a declining crime rate and we have fewer cases going into the court room.
“So, the question is — why are we having backlogs?”
The report is the first of two, the second of which is due to be released in mid-January, Bond said.
The second portion of plan will include public input from the B.C Policing Plan and findings from the Mission Women Commission of Inquiry.
Bond said she hopes to introduce legislation needed to kick start some elements of the plan, including the new council, when the next legislative session begins in 2013, just months before the May election.