Spotlight on COVID-19 task force - Message from the President

  • October 06, 2020

There’s no going back.

That was the overwhelming message from speakers to the CBA’s COVID-19 task force in the first phase of deliberations. They agreed that while the interim measures put in place to accommodate physical distancing regulations may be imperfect, things shouldn’t go back to the old normal after the crisis. Instead, the legal profession and justice systems should keep what works and use this period as a lesson for building a system that will be sustainable in the long run.

The task force wrapped up the first phase of its deliberations in September, having heard from experts on harnessing technology, lessons from online models like the Civil Resolution Tribunal in BC and safeguarding open courts. These discussions help inform the work of the Task Force and set the table for its eventual recommendations.   

The task force has now moved into its second phase. We have retained University of Ottawa law professor Karen Eltis, author of Courts, Litigants and the Digital Age, to write its final report, which is expected in March 2021.

The report will examine the new measures, procedures and technologies and identify what has worked and what hasn’t. It will prepare recommendations on how the justice system can become more responsive to the people who seek justice. And it will examine the impact changes will have on privacy and the open-courts principle.

We expect the recommendations to focus on innovation and sustainability, what investments are required, and what we have to do to make it all happen.

The CBA has been calling on the country’s justice system to modernize for years. It’s been astonishing to see how quickly it can happen when there’s no other option. But interim measures are just that. Now the real work, to build a system that can lean into, and adapt to the requirements of the future (and next crisis) without breaking, begins.

Brad Regehr
CBA President