THE ADVOCATE 821
VOL. 78 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2020
Vancouver), perhaps by improving the incentives to use the assize system,
such as by giving matters that use the assize system priority in rebooking.
Absent these accommodations, the courts run the risk of pressuring sick
people to attend in person, in close quarters, so as to avoid having to wait
18 months for a trial to be rebooked, or months for a chambers date to be
reset. No client likes to hear that their case might be adjourned because of
illness, and to make it possible for consent adjournments to be requested
and granted easily, the court system must adapt.
Critically, the courts cannot adopt a standard of “impossibility” of finding
alternative childcare as a condition of obtaining such a last-minute adjournment.
Measuring “impossibility” in these times is a hopeless task. Childcare
is expensive, and emergency childcare even more so. Forcing lawyers,
clients and witnesses to disclose personal finances, the health or other
needs of their children, and the multitude of other considerations that go
into securing childcare, particularly in urgent and unprecedented circumstances,
is unreasonable and invasive. British Columbia benefits from a
small, collegial bar—even in Vancouver—and it benefits no one to structure
a system that encourages strict scrutiny of these deeply personal matters.
The courts need to find ways to operate notwithstanding the COVID-19
pandemic. But their goal should not be to resume normal, in-person operations
until the rest of the systems that support a healthy civil society,
including schools and childcare centres, have resumed normal operations
as well. Otherwise, the courts’ message to parents of children seems to be
clear: in the pandemic, you can be a lawyer or a parent, but not both.
1. Statistics Canada, “The Rise of the Dual-Earner Family
with Children”, Canadian Megatrends (30 May
2015), Catalogue number 11-630-X, online: <www
x2016005-eng.pdf?st=QgfBj_2K>. See also Kristin
Bialik & Richard Fry, “Millennial Life: How Young
Adulthood Today Compares with Prior Generations”,
Pew Research Center (14 February 2019), online:
2. Dan Fumano, “B.C.’s Child Care Shortage a Problem
for More Than Just Parents”, Vancouver Sun (7 June
2019), online: <vancouversun.com/news/localnews/
3. Premier John Horgan, “Government of British
Columbia, Premier Horgan Update” (3 June 2020),
4. Kelsey Johnson & Julie Gordon, “Women Struggle to
Get Back to Work in Canada as ‘She-Cession’
Weighs”, The Globe and Mail (5 June 2020), online:
5. Law Society of British Columbia, “Supporting
Women Lawyers in BC”, online: <www.lawsociety.
6. @A2JamieMac. “This is... ahem... unfortunate. I’ve
always thought that a small drop-in (& no-fee) daycare
in underused courthouse library space would
be immensely helpful to some court users. Not so
much during a pandemic obvs.” (3 June 2020,
12:41 pm), online: Twitter <twitter.com/A2Jamie