Courthouse in Victoria is one of the regional courts hearing criminal cases. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Courthouse in Victoria is one of the regional courts hearing criminal cases. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. joins national effort to deal with COVID-19 court backups

Most B.C. courts suspended operations in March

B.C. Attorney General David Eby has been appointed to a federal committee chaired by Chief Justice of Canada Richard Wagner to make a path out of the suspension of courtroom proceedings due to COVID-19.

“The committee will focus primarily on the immediate need to restore and stabilize court operations, including the resumption of in-person judicial processes and hearings,” Eby’s ministry said in a statement May 8.

For civil and family court cases, limitation periods were suspended March 27 for Provincial Court, B.C. Supreme Court and B.C. Court of Appeal actions. Provincial court updated its directive April 28, saying people are “strongly discouraged” from attending courthouses in person, with proceedings by audio or videoconference.

RELATED: Civil court time limitations suspended in COVID-19

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Provincial courts are now dealing with urgent child protection cases and criminal trials and bail hearings for people in custody, public health and safety matters, and other cases determined by judges.

For criminal cases, the province established regional courts in Surrey, Kelowna, Prince George, Vancouver and Victoria.

Eby told The Canadian Press April 24 that video conferencing systems are being put into use for Court of Appeal hearings, and a judicial inquiry into money laundering due to start this year.

Eby has appointed two advisory bodies for the provincial court system, one chaired by former deputy attorney general Allan Seckel that includes former Supreme Court of Canada chief justice Beverley McLachlin.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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