Monday, March 28, 2016

The budget unveiled by the federal Liberal government included support for the Court Challenges Program of Canada.

The government also announced $88 million will be provided over five years “to increase funding in support of the provision of criminal legal aid in Canada.”

“Access to criminal legal aid promotes justice for economically disadvantaged persons and helps ensure the Canadian justice system remains fair and efficient,” said the budget document.

The budget also proposed the Court Challenges Program receive new funding of $12 million over the next five years, so “when combined with existing federal investments, total funding will be $5 million annually.” 

The budget also said there is $7.9 million proposed to go to the Courts Administration Service over the next five years to invest in “information technology infrastructure upgrades to safeguard the efficiency of the federal court system,” as well as a plan to have the minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to work with other levesl of government to develop a strategy on how to reduce gun and gang violence.

A statement from Canadian Bar Association president Janet Fuhrer said the association “supports the federal government’s financial commitment to access to justice and improvements to the justice system contained in the 2016 federal budget.”

“As long-time supporters of the Court Challenges Program, the CBA welcomes the government’s commitment to reinstate the program and the $12 million in new funding. The program serves as an important safeguard against unequal and unfair treatment of vulnerable individuals and communities,” said the statement.

The statement also commended more funding for the Aboriginal Courtwork Program, as well as for legal aid and federal court improvements.

“The CBA supports the program as an important measure to address the unacceptable overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system,” said the statement.
The Advocates’ Society Arleen Goss Young Advocates’ Award is accepting nominations for this year’s winner. The award, which recognizes “distinguished advocacy,” is given to the winner this June.

The award is for someone who demonstrates “a record of innovative and passionate advocacy; a demonstrated concern for and contribution to the advancement of social justice; a well-rounded person actively involved in and committed to his or her community; engaged in the practice of law for 10 years or less with a principal focus on advocacy, and a member in good standing of The Law Society of Upper Canada,” said a news release from the Advocates Society. 

The award honours Arleen A. Goss, who passed away in 2002 from cancer. Goss had practiced as a defence lawyer and as an assistant Crown Aatorney before her death.

“She was an enthusiastic member of The Advocates' Society, active in educational and social events for young advocates. Arleen is remembered for her passion for the law and for the energy with which she lived her life,” said the release. More information about the award can be accessed on the Advocates’ Society web site, and nominations can be sent electronically to

Law Times reported last week that Canadian senators make a minimum of $142,400 annually, for 82 to 89 days of work. Readers were asked in this week’s poll if they felt this was fair compensation for Ssnators.

More than 26 per cent of voters said they felt  this was a fair level of compensation, because senators are selected for their high level of expertise and accomplishment. These readers said compensation was acceptable for the time senators work.

More than 73 per cent of voters said they did not support this level of compensation, saying it was ridiculous, given senators can have other paid work while they serve. These readers say the Senate needs serious overhaul.

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