The Federation of Law Reform Agencies of Canada (FOLRAC) is thrilled that Canada’s Budget 2021 provides funding for Justice Canada to bring back the Law Commission of Canada. The Budget, released on April 19 by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Chrystia Freeland, promises $18 million over five years (starting in 2021-22) and $4 million ongoing to revive the Law Commission, which was shut down in 2006.
The world has changed since 2006 and today’s legal system presents new challenges – new technologies, changing family and community structures, and recognition of the need for Indigenous justice and issues of systemic racism. Independent law reform agencies exist to tackle these challenges and improve access to justice for all Canadians. Our agencies study complex legal and policy issues, and make recommendations for reform based on extensive research, public consultations, and expert opinion. Our work is non-partisan, principled and forward-looking to identify approaches to important legal issues.
The Law Commission of Canada, as a federally mandated law reform agency, will play an important role in our collaborations and we look forward to working with a federal counterpart on defining and implementing law reforms across Canada and across our many legal frameworks.
“We are delighted by the announcement to restore the Law Reform Commission of Canada in yesterday’s budget,” stated Leah Howie, President of FOLRAC and the Director of the Law Reform Commission of Saskatchewan, firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Independent law reform helps to innovate and drive changes so that our laws reflect the issues we face in Canada; we help make lives better for all Canadians. We look forward to continuing our work with our federal colleagues back at the table.”
FOLRAC was incorporated in 1990 to encourage cooperation among Canadian law reform agencies and to advance the public value of law reform across Canada. It has member agencies in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Quebec.
On October 11th and 12th, the Alberta Law Reform Institute [ALRI] will hosted law reformers from across Canada at the bi-annual symposium of the Federation of Law Reform Agencies of Canada [FOLRAC]. Representatives from law reform agencies and commissions in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Alberta worked together on a shared mission of advancing law reform in Canada.
This Year's Agenda
For two days, participants tackled the challenges of decision-making in various areas of law reform including media strategy, professional networking, and expanding the ways in which law reform agencies engage and consult with the public and legal community. The Symposium concluded with a talk by University of Alberta Law Professor Hadley Friedland who was invited to speak at this year's symposium. Professor Friedland led a rigorous discussion around the role of law reform agencies in responding to the calls-to-action issued by Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
More than four decades ago, FOLRAC started as an informal meeting of law reform representatives that gathered together during the annual meetings of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada. These meetings evolved into structured events where law reformers shared their experiences, discussed challenges and successes, and assisted each other in carrying out their work.
FOLRAC officially incorporated in 1990 and since then there have been twelve meetings and symposiums held across Canada. Agenda topics vary widely and have included social media, plain language, online consultations, and public engagement among others.