THE ADVOCATE 559
VOL. 79 PART 4 JULY 2021
By the Honourable David Eby, Q.C.*
INVESTING IN COURT MODERNIZATION
I have written before about the opportunity of modernizing our courtrooms
that is the silver lining of the pandemic. Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s
release several weeks ago of our provincial budget made clear the
province’s commitment to partner in a meaningful way with the judiciary
in that modernization work.
The budget announced one-time funding of $24 million for major capital
expenses like computers, phones and enterprise software solutions and the
costs to implement these systems. A commitment of a further $15 million
will ensure this initial investment is supported by staff and operational
budget to maximize the odds of success for years to come.
The game plan for how this money will be rolled out was set in place just
months before the pandemic struck: the Court Digital Transformation Strategy
sets out our shared commitments in partnership with the judiciary in
terms of how and where modernization will be delivered to improve our
The changes to date have already had a remarkable impact. From April
to September 2020, the number of virtual hearings in our courts increased
by more than 120,000 over 2019 figures. With numbers like this, it is obvious
that for many types of matters, virtual hearings will be increasingly common
even as we move past the pandemic.
The reasons for maintaining this shift after the pandemic are simple. The
use of technology has enabled many British Columbians across the
province to engage more easily and effectively with court systems. Lawyers
are able to work on other files while waiting for their matter to be called.
* The Honourable David Eby, Q.C., is British Columbia’s Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing.