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A Matter of Family

The Call for a Wrongful Death Act in BC

By Bentley Doyle, edited for BC Family Day 2016

If killed by wrongful death in BC, the lives of many British Columbians are considered “worthless” under the current Family Compensation Act.

Family Day call for a wrongful death act

Non-breadwinners killed by wrongful death in BC typically do not have ‘value’.

For most people, family is at the heart of what matters most in life. Losing a loved one – a sibling, spouse, child, grandchild, parent or grandparent – can be a devastating and life-altering experience. Imagine adding to this grief by way of learning that your loved one’s death was the result of another person behaving harmfully or recklessly.

A wrongful death can be caused by reckless driving, poor medical care, negligent use of equipment or other irresponsible actions. When these preventable circumstances cause or contribute to the death of a person, their family’s grief and suffering are compounded by outrage.

For families thrust into dealing with a wrongful death in British Columbia, matters become even more painful and frustrating if they seek advice on legal avenues to find justice. They discover that current legislation fails to provide for all the losses – emotional, financial and beyond – resulting from the wrongful death of their child, parent, sibling, spouse or another relative.

BC’s current Family Compensation Act (FCA) governs in cases of wrongful death. The Act takes into account the direct financial losses resulting from death. However, it fails to acknowledge the multi-layered collective experience of effected families. Children, seniors and people with disabilities who may not represent a measurable financial loss, for example, are among the classes of people whose lives are not fully valued or respected after they die.

BC’s laws make a further unfair and unjustified distinction between wrongful acts that lead to injury and wrongful acts that lead to death: The injured and their families can seek justice and compensation, but many families of people who were killed are not permitted to do so.

Striving to Make Things Right

For these reasons, the family members of the BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society and their supporters are seeking a wrongful death accountability act in British Columbia. A new act is needed to enable family members, who suffer the loss of a loved one due to the harmful actions of others, to obtain a full measure of justice.

By bringing in a proper wrongful death legislation, the BC Government would become a leader among Canadian provinces and territories.