New CBA report lays out map for reaching equal justice by 2030

  • August 18, 2013

SASKATOON — A new report released by the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) calls on the legal community, politicians and the public to become engaged and make a difference in redressing the imbalance in a world "thick in law but thin in legal resources."

The CBA’s Access to Justice Committee has been wrestling with this issue since September 2011, and the Envisioning Equal Justice initiative was launched at the 2012 CBA Legal Conference in Vancouver. Some answers are beginning to emerge — not just about what access to justice is, but ways to ensure Canadians have it. The report aims at engaging the legal community to come together to achieve change, asking individuals to take on equal justice as a personal challenge.

At the CBA’s Legal Conference today in Saskatoon, the committee announced 31 targets that set out a timeline for providing Canadians with meaningful access to justice by 2030.

The targets are contained in a summary of the report Reaching Equal Justice: An Invitation to Envision and to Act, which will be released in full later in the fall. The report characterizes the state of access to justice in Canada today as “abysmal.”

“We need to make visible the pain caused by inadequate access and the huge discrepancies between the promise of justice and the lived reality of barriers and impediments,” says Dr. Melina Buckley, Chair of the Access to Justice Committee. “Inaccessible justice costs us all, but visits its harshest consequences on the poorest people in our communities.”

 “We cannot shy away from the dramatic level of change required: too many people think that justice in Canada is only for the rich and that our system of justice is broken,” says Buckley. “We need to radically redress this imbalance.”

Key to reaching the committee’s goals will be the appointment of access to justice commissioners at the provincial, territorial and national levels to provide the necessary leadership; and the development of tools to measure access in a real way — something that is currently lacking. “The absence of an evidentiary base for action, and shared views on what to measure and how to measure it are serious obstacles to achieving equal justice.”

For more information or to arrange an interview with a member of the committee, please contact Hannah Bernstein at 613-912-0134, or email

The Canadian Bar Association is dedicated to support for the rule of law, and improvement in the law and the administration of justice. Some 37,000 lawyers, notaries, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.

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