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Jan Advocate 2017

100 V O L . 7 5 P A R T 1 J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7 THE ADVOCATE nected relationship by bringing together a range of representatives from different sectors for frank discussions about areas of shared interest and mutual accountability in mental health and justice issues. 3. Remain open and flexible to possible solutions rather than landing on an easy answer that may not meet desired outcomes in the longer term British Columbia is a large province with a population that is concentrated in urban centres and also located in small communities or in rural and remote areas. Clearly a one-size-fits-all approach is never feasible or even desirable for delivery of service. In addition, force-fitting a service model without appreciation for the unique needs of diverse communities can be very expensive and will ultimately undermine positive long-term outcomes. These aspects of our geography, however, do not diminish or absolve us of a key goal of the justice system: to ensure British Columbians have equitable access to justice services, regardless of where they live in the province. To fulfil this goal requires flexibility and openness to innovative solutions that deliver meaningful access, even if it is different access. The Virtual Initial Needs Determination Project (“VIND”) uses integrated telephone/computer technology that allows local office telephones to be routed to a hub of family justice services employees across B.C. Administrative staff and virtual interviewers throughout the province can provide triage and intake services to clients from any location. This simple and elegant innovation has yielded significant benefits. On average, VIND fields over 1,500 calls per month and the current wait time for initial callers is approximately 30 seconds. Given these impressive results, we intend to expand service to more geographically remote parts of the province. 4. Have a clear vision and enlist prominent and persuasive allies to promote your vision When British Columbians encounter the justice system, it is typically and predominantly in the context of civil or family justice needs. British Columbia’s highly regarded and internationally respected Civil Resolution Tribunal (“CRT”) is an example of an innovative approach to make the system more accessible for families and individuals and to facilitate faster resolution of issues. For the 1.3 million British Columbians who live in or own a strata unit, disputes may now be taken to the CRT—Canada’s first 24/7 online tri-


Jan Advocate 2017
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