As everyone who has worked in government or business knows, occasionally, reforms are necessary to make an organization, or a system, more effective and more efficient. This doesn’t mean that the system is broken, or isn’t working properly; it means that we are always looking for ways to improve it.
Right now, our government is focusing on making reforms in the justice system. We are working on making it more efficient and transparent, with more stakeholder cooperation. In an era of fiscal restraint, it is important to find solutions that can address rising costs while simultaneously reducing delays.
On February 26, our government introduced the Justice Reform and Transparency Act. This new legislation will increase efficiencies and transparency, as well as strengthen the relationship between justice and public safety sectors. By improving public safety, promoting early resolutions, and providing alternatives to resolving legal disputes in court, British Columbians can be more confident in our justice system.
Prior to developing the legislation, the B.C. government tasked Geoffrey Cowper with an independent review of the current justice system. Cowper reviewed the justice system in consultation with the legal community and other stakeholders. The Justice Reform and Transparency Act was developed with the recommendations by the independent review from Cowper and recommendations made by the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.
The four main areas of justice reform initiatives are: formation of the Justice and Public Safety Council, that will assist in developing and planning a justice system framework; an annual justice summit, that will encourage collaboration and innovation in the area of justice; legislative amendments; and a memorandum of understanding for the Minister of Justice to develop agreements with the three levels of court to ensure effective court administration and public reporting.
Our government is responding quickly to recommendations from Cowper and the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. In addition to introducing this new bill, the B.C. government has also made other significant progress in justice reform. These include appointing nine new judges in order to address case loads, as well as appointing Steven Point as chair to a new advisory committee on safety of vulnerable women.
By working closely with all stakeholders in the justice community, our government is working to make justice accessible and efficient for all British Columbians.
Pat Pimm, MLA
Peace River North