Canadian Access to Justice Initiatives: Justice Development Goals Status Report / Initiatives canadiennes d’accès à la justice Rapport d’étape annuel sur la réalisation des objectifs de développement de la justice and Working Data Document

The Action Committee’s “Canadian Access to Justice Initiatives: Justice Development Goals Status Report” has been published and is available in both English and French on the Action Committee webpage. This Report uses the nine Justice Development Goals set out in the Action Committee’s “A Roadmap for Change” report as a framework to explore current initiatives and to identify areas for future work in access to justice in Canada. The Justice Development Goals Status Report was produced by the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice.

In addition, the Forum has also published the “Status Report: Working Data Document”, which includes data from the “Canadian Access to Justice Initiatives: Justice Development Goals Status Report”, as well as raw data from the recent Justice Development Goals Survey that is not discussed in the Report.

Access to Justice in the Northwest Territories: Survey Results, Inventory Project and Terms of Reference

In response to growing access to justice concerns in the Northwest Territories, the NWT Access to Justice Committee recently surveyed 36 justice stakeholders to uncover specific access to justice barriers and potential responses to address them.

Survey Results:
The survey respondents included resident lawyers, non-resident lawyers, court workers staff, crown witness coordinators, and social workers. In addition to selecting from several listed potential barriers, respondents were invited to include and elaborate upon non-listed barriers.

The top 3 access to justice barriers as identified by respondents all pertained to the issue of self-representation:

1)   Ineligibility of middle-income litigants for Legal Aid

2)   Inadequate resources for self-represented litigants

3)   Difficulty finding local lawyers with requisite legal expertise

Some of the other identified barriers were more of a systemic nature, including the inaccessibility of courtroom facilities and services for persons with disabilities, intimidating courtroom formalities, and a lack of adequate legal education.

For a more comprehensive view of the access to justice barriers and creative solutions offered by survey respondents see: Survey results report- April 21.

Inventory Project:
Commissioned by the NWT Access to Justice Committee, Yellowknife consultant Aggie Brockman recently produced an inventory to provide litigants and justice professionals with a comprehensive listing of legal services information. The inventory is arranged alphabetically by legal problem type (ex: Elder Abuse, Employment, Family Violence, Privacy, Youth…etc.) and contains web links, email addresses and phone numbers for convenient access. In order make the inventory as user-friendly as possible, Aggie received structural suggestions and input from 35 project participants (all justice stakeholders). The Inventory Project Report explains how the project was conducted with some insightful quotes and anecdotes from project participants. Furthermore, the actual inventory can be accessed  here: Access to Justice – Inventory and Gaps- 2016.

Terms of Reference:
From an access to justice perspective, there are many distinct challenges facing the NWT including geographic, cultural and language barriers as well as infrastructural barriers. The aim of the NWT Access to Justice Committee (“Committee”) is to identify the barriers that impede access and to recommend firm responses to address them. To see the Terms of Reference that characterize the purpose, structure, and scope of the NWT Access to Justice Committee, click here: TOR – Committee – Final. Also, to view the National Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Law’s (“NAC”) Final Report upon which the Committee will make its recommendations click here.


Action Committee Meeting of Provincial and Territorial Access to Justice Groups

On March 13, 2015 the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters (the Action Committee) convened a meeting for existing provincial and territorial access to justice groups (P/T A2J groups), many of which were formed in response to recommendation 5.1 of the Action Committee’s Roadmap Report.

The purpose of the meeting was to reflect on the progress made by these groups over the past year, discuss the access to justice initiatives underway in different jurisdictions, highlight promising developments, learn from common challenges, and consider collaborations and cooperation among justice stakeholders that could be further supported by the Action Committee.
The report can be accessed in English here and in French here.

The Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters Convenes a Meeting of Provincial and Territorial A2J Groups

In March the Action Committee on Access to Justice and Family Matters convened a meeting of provincial and territorial access to justice groups.

The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice has posted a short blog on the meeting as well as short updates from A2J groups in Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Access them here.

Online Dispute Resolution for Low Value Civil Claims

This is the first report of the ODR Advisory Group of the Civil Justice Council. The group was set up on 25th April 2014, with terms of reference that can be found in Appendix 1 of the report. In broad terms, their remit is to explore the potential of ODR (online dispute resolution) for civil disputes of value less than £25,000. The membership of the group is laid out in Appendix 2 of the report.

Bilingual Accès Justice Access Centre Now Open in Halifax

Great work by our friends in Nova Scotia! What’s new in ‪access to justice for 2015: Nova Scotia’s first bilingual access to justice centre! The Accès Justice Access centre opened recently at 1663 Brunswick Street in Halifax, as an initiative of the Association des juristes d’expression française de la Nouvelle-Écosse (AJEFNE). The centre offers services in both official languages on site and by telephone, email and online. Free consultations with a lawyer will be available by appointment.