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BC's new justice minister has long list of issues to address

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – BC has a new justice minister and she will be tasked with fixing some old problems.

In addition to unclogging BC’s backlogged courts, Suzanne Anton will be in charge of modernizing the province’s outdated liquor laws.

Bentley Doyle with the Trial Lawyers Association of BC hopes two other issues will be at the top of Anton’s priority list.

“One would be Legal Aid,” he tells us.

“Legal Aid is at the forefront because the system is under-funded and you have far too many self-represented litigants stumbling their way through the courtrooms. It is slowing down things and it’s not serving justice. You have clogged courtrooms because of this.”

In 2011, a report by lawyer Len Doust found the Legal Aid system is failing the province’s working poor. Doust called for Legal Aid to be treated as an essential service, like health care and education.

Doyle says people in family, immigration, and criminal cases are affected by the lack of funding.

“There needs to be a system that makes it easier for people to qualify for Legal Aid,” he argues. “It’s tough for anyone to qualify for anything beyond a very limited scope of things.”

Doyle also wants Anton to introduce a new Wrongful Death Act.

“We want this situation to change in BC,” say Doyle.

“Right now children, seniors and people with disabilities are worthless in the eyes of the law if they’re deceased. They’re worthless to their families if they didn’t have an outcome. Essentially, the only thing people can seek justice for is if the breadwinner in the family. That is something the Liberals should address.”

The BC Liberals looked into the issue in 2007.

There was speculation new Legislation would be introduced in 2010 or 2011, but it never happened.