BC Government’s yearly budget and what it means for the courts

It seems that some changes may be coming to courts here in BC, as the provincial government delivered their 2021 Throne Speech and the follow-up budget in April. In it, they outline what their plan is to help modernize and overall improve local courts.

Covid has been disrupting many lives and businesses since early 2020. The majority of the highlighted initiatives during the speech focused on how the BC government is planning to assist with overcoming all the disruptions that took place at the height of the pandemic. This includes several governments supports not only for businesses but also for regular citizens.

What’s in the budget?

The budget, which was released shortly after the Throne Speech, more thoroughly outlined where the government’s spending money would be going. This included details pertaining more specifically to Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia members and the BC Justice System.

The plan is that over three years, $132 million will be allocated to support the justice system as a whole, which includes things such as courts, legal clinics and parent legal centres, to name a few. Of the $132 million, 16 million of that will go towards the BC government’s overall goal of modernizing the province’s courts. They also plan to include an extra $24 million, which will be used for “Pandemic and Recovery Contingencies is allocated in 2021/22 to augment these efforts.” This will be a one-time funding project, which will allow for the safe operations of in-person courts while also assisting with the modernization transition, which will allow for more virtual proceedings.

Included with the budget was the number of cases the provincial government plans to be processed yearly in the next four years, which is 242 000 annually. It also looks like the provincial government will be looking to create more employment opportunities within the public sector in “core government ministries.”

The budget from this year offered a lot of insights on what the court system can expect moving forward to make them more modern and easily accessible. It looks promising thus far; now, we will just have to wait and see how and when the government will implement these strategies.

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