734 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 77 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2019
The Justice Centre is a sophisticated telephone and video conferencing
system that provides 24-hour, seven-day-a-week access to judicial justices,
balancing efficiency with the law’s requirement for independent and fair
oversight and offering yet another example of how judicial justices play a
critical role in our system.
Judicial justices at the Justice Centre preside over bail hearings seven
days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Twenty-four-hour access is available
for police throughout the province to obtain search warrants in a
While there is much important front-line work within the jurisdiction of
judicial justices, there are some areas where they do not tread. Judicial justices
do not deal with applications under the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms or offences that may result in imprisonment. Cases where these
issues are raised are referred to a judge.
The position of judicial justice has existed in British Columbia for over 25
years. Following a 2007 chief judge review of the role, all new judicial justices
have been appointed to serve on a part-time basis for fixed terms of
ten years (recently extended to 12 years). They are paid on a per diem basis,
with a minimum number of guaranteed working days per year.
Currently, there are 32 judicial justices on the Provincial Court bench.
This number includes 11 who were appointed to serve on a full-time basis
and 21 who were appointed to serve on a part-time basis.
For lawyers considering applying to be appointed as a judicial justice, the
current criteria and competencies require applicants to have practised law
in Canada for at least five years, although those with less legal practice
experience may be considered if they have a range of related experience.1
Prospective appointees are screened by the Judicial Council and appointed
by the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council.
I will take this opportunity to note that while there have been improvements
in the diversity of those who make up the leadership and administrative
roles in our justice system, we still have some distance to go to ensure
our justice system reflects the province’s makeup as a whole.
British Columbia is one of the most ethnically diverse provinces in
Canada, with almost thirty per cent of British Columbians having immigrated
to the province from another country.2 Results from the 2016 census
showed that 30.3 per cent of British Columbians were visible minorities3
and 5.9 per cent were Indigenous peoples.4
Like our chief judge and all members of our Provincial Court administration
and judiciary, the government of British Columbia is committed to
ensuring our courts reflect our society in all of its rich diversity and benefit
from the voices and perspectives of those they serve.