Why Change is Necessary


Reaching Equal Justice: Advocacy Guide

Canada has a serious access to justice problem. Government investment in justice has been a small fraction of what is spent on other public services, and most of the money that is spent goes to policing and prisons. For example, in 2018, total healthcare spending in Canada is estimated to be $253.5 billion or $6,839 per person. Justice Canada planned to spend $639.7 million in 2017-2018.

Virtually everyone in Canada will face a legal problem at some point in their life. But many people can’t access the legal help they need when these problems arise. As a result, problems often grow and spread affecting other parts of people’s lives. This ripple effect can mean, for example, that an evicted tenant becomes homeless, or a person wrongly fired from a job goes on social assistance.  We all pay the price when others don’t get the legal help they need. Inaccessible justice leads to overcrowded court rooms, a greater burden on our social programs, and an erosion of public confidence in the fairness of our justice system.

Vulnerable groups in Canada have a negative perception of the justice system consistently describing the justice system as not to be trusted, only for people with money, arbitrary, difficult to navigate and inaccessible to ordinary people.

As lawyers and notaries, we have a professional duty to the courts, the justice system and the public. We need people to feel confident that the justice system is fair and accessible to all. Governments need to invest more and develop creative solutions to our access to justice problem. Change only comes when governments are pressured to act. This guide builds upon past work the CBA has done, in particular the Reaching Equal Justice Report. Both are designed to empower CBA members to more effectively advocate for better access to justice.