Current Issues & Campaigns

Since TLABC was founded in 1980, its membership has worked to protect the rights of individuals and enhance the practice of law in British Columbia. Hand in hand with those goals is the pursuit of positive changes in legislation and the rules of court proceedings. In addition to participating and assisting the courts in public-interest cases and appeals, TLABC devotes time and other resources to important public-minded campaigns.

NO TO NO FAULT
During the introduction of no fault insurance legislation in early 2020 and its passage in mid-2020, TLABC worked closely with community partners and association members to raise concerns about the negative impacts of an unfair no fault system on British Columbians. We are pleased to have advocated for the rights/care deserved by all injured people and ICBC policy holders, through digital advertising, media relations, contact with voters during the 2020 provincial election, and more. As the Government of BC intends to implement no fault in Spring 2021, we look forward to opportunities to continue engaging on this topic. If you have questions about TLABC's advocacy activities, please contact us.

LEGAL AID 
All British Columbians, regardless of socioeconomic circumstance, should have the right and be afforded the means to access the justice system in BC. In March 2019, the Government of British Columbia approved a short-term increase in legal aid funding. To serve BC’s most vulnerable, the Government of BC must now commit to reforms to the legal aid system and increase long-term funding. TLABC has mobilized its members to contribute their time to legal aid activities and has also worked in partnership with stakeholders like the Association of Legal Aid Lawyers (ALL) and Legal Aid BC to advocate for better supports for people seeking access to justice. It is more important than ever, while many people and families struggle during the COVID-19 pandemic, for all British Columbians to be able to exercise their rights. 


MINOR INJURY CAPS
In April 2019, TLABC launched a constitutional challenge to protect the charter rights of British Columbians in light of the minor injury caps introduced by the Government of BC under the current tort system for auto insurance. The use of the Civil Resolution Tribunal for these matters was found to be unconstitutional in a judgement by Chief Justice Hinkson in March 2021. The enabling legislation and associated regulations are a threat to the rights of British Columbians and their ability to access justice through the courts. The caps that were introduced for so-called "minor injuries” included brain injuries, depression, PTSD, chronic pain, and many other serious injuries. Specifically, the new injury cap legislation discriminates against British Columbians with these conditions by treating their harms and losses differently, and results in a complicated and almost impossible reverse onus of establishing their injuries have caused “incapacity” or “serious impairment”. The Government of BC has stated their intention to appeal the decision, and TLABC will continue to advocate on these matters. 
READ Chief Justice Hinkson's Reasons for Judgment (issued 2 March 2021)
READ a one-page summary of the decision (3 March 2021)


HIGHWAY MAINTENANCE CONTRACTOR LIABILITY 
British Columbia’s highways are maintained by private contractors. They are paid to plow, salt, and sand our highways so that British Columbians can travel safely. Although rare, when a motorist is severely injured or killed because the contractor has failed to fulfil their obligations, the contractor can be civilly liable. Such cases are rare but they play an important role in providing incentives for those contractors to do their jobs. Under the new no fault model, maintenance contractors are given immunity from claims. Section 116 of Bill 11 provides certain exceptions from no fault immunity; road maintenance contractors are not among them. TLABC is concerned that this will make British Columbia’s highways less safe and put motorists at risk.  


LIABILITY WAIVERS IN COMMERCIAL RECREATIONAL SPORTS
In 1994, the Law Reform Commission of British Columbia proposed model legislation that would have implemented common sense limitations on liability waivers.1 The proposed legislation would prevent operators from contractually excluding liability for serious injuries or death caused by their own negligence, solely with respect to risks wholly within their control. For example, a bungee jump operator could not rely on a waiver if a customer is seriously injured because the company was negligent in failing to replace a worn-out bungee cord. TLABC believes this draft legislation would also make British Columbians safer by incentivizing commercial operators to take reasonable care. 


UNIFIED FAMILY COURT
TLABC endorses a government initiative to establish the amalgamation of all family cases into one court, the Unified Family Court in British Columbia. Based on the models established in Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario and other Canadian jurisdictions, we recommend the establishment of a Unified Family Dispute Resolution Centre with permanent funding that provides for Provincial Court Judges, Supreme Court Justices, duty counsel, Law Society accredited mediators, arbitrators, and parenting coordinators, accredited parenting counselors, accredited debt counselors, and Family Justice counselors to assist with client intake and forms. If a Unified Family Court model is established, it must be implemented across the province so that all British Columbians can access the available services and resources, regardless of their location.


WRONGFUL DEATH LEGISLATION 
TLABC has long advocated that the provincial government must adopt legislative changes to ensure fairness and compassion for families experiencing a tragedy after the wrongful death of a loved one. In British Columbia, the three most common wrongful death cases are medical malpractice, motor vehicle crashes, and workplace fatalities. Despite the changes to the Family Compensation Act in 1996, British Columbia’s legal framework regarding wrongful death has not seen significant change since the adoption of Lord Campbell’s Act in 1846. Under the current law, only the sole income earner in a household qualifies for damages, resulting in financial and emotional hardship. Compensation for family members recognizes that individuals matter under the law. Currently, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Nova Scotia allow claims for non-financial (non-pecuniary) damages, with varying degrees of restriction in their legislation. Sole income earners are the only individuals who qualify for damages. These claims still leave the families of seniors, people living with a disability and minors without any legal recourse.  

 

TLABC posts any breaking updates on its Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn Pages. If you have any further questions on these issues or others, please contact TLABC CEO, Shawn Mitchell at shawn@tlabc.org

TLABC supports:

Access Pro Bono: accessprobono.ca
Association of Legal Aid Lawyers (ALL): bclegalaidlawyers.ca
Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP): lapbc.com
Raise the Bar: raisethebarlaw.ca
Distracted Driving Kills: distracteddrivingkills.ca


Public Affairs Committee (PAC) Page

Follow TLABC on Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn for campaign updates and information.