4.11.7 Access to justice

Canada seems to have a two-tiered justice system. The rising costs and complexities of litigation mean that only the wealthy have easy access to effective legal representation in our courts. Middle-class Canadians are increasingly unable to adequately defend themselves due to the cost and complexity of Canada’s judicial processes.

Greens understand, however, that we won’t have real justice in Canada until we have justice for all Canadians. This means affordable and accessible courts as well as laws that allow for the protection of our collective rights and the valuable natural resources we all hold in common. A responsible Canadian government can initiate a fresh approach to our justice system and ensure it becomes more fair and equitable.

The Green Party believes we, as a free and democratic society, must increase access to justice for the people of Canada through a range of measures. We also believe a responsible government must support lawyers who offer service to those in genuine need.

Green Party MPs will:

  • Increase access to justice for all Canadians notwithstanding their financial situation, by working with the provincial governments to establish a comprehensive National Legal Aid plan that will provide stable, long-term funding;

  • Simplify those matters within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal Court of Canada or Tax Court (e.g. intellectual property, income tax appeals, CPP and disability claims). Reducing the amount of time spent in court on civil and criminal matters saves taxpayers money and helps ensure cases are not kicked out due to excessive delay;

  • Increase the use of alternative dispute resolution processes, such as mediation and collaborative lawyering, in family and civil courts to reduce conflicts in relationship breakdowns;

  • Amend the Divorce Act to ensure children are no longer treated like the spoils of war;

  • Launch a consultation with Canadians, with the legal community, family therapists, and other experts to seek ways to reduce, and preferably eliminate, the adversarial nature of family law. The Child Support Guidelines were intended as a step in this direction through standardizing the quantum of child support and not forcing the parties to prove need and ability to pay in court (see section 4.11.3 Reforming the Divorce Act).