MLA Doug Routley Writes Letter in Support of Modernizing BC’s Wrongful Death Laws to Attorney General Minister Eby

We’re pleased to share that MLA Doug Routley of Nanaimo-North Cowichan has come out in support of his constituent Sharon Andersen and our Society’s goals to modernize BC’s wrongful death laws!

Literally, every NDP MLA in the province could write this same letter of support to the Attorney General Minister David Eby.

Call your MLA and ask them to do the same.

This is the type of “political will” that we need to continue building to get this critical work done!

Thank you again to MLA Doug Routley and the staff at his constituency office for making this commitment!


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February 17, 2021

Honourable David Eby
Attorney General
Parliament Buildings Victoria, British Columbia V8V 1X4

I am writing to you today to provide feedback on the existing Family Compensation Act, also referred to as Wrongful Death Legislation. I recently met with my constituent Sharon Andersen who was joined by Michael-James Pennie, President of the Wrongful Death Society. Sharon lost her longtime partner, Shirley, in 2015 under tragic circumstances while attempting to seek medical care at Cowichan District Hospital. Under the current legislation Sharon was left with no options to seek justice, as Shirley lived with a disability and therefore had no “financial loss” to be considered.
Sharon’s story is tragic, but sadly not unique. I know yourself and many of our colleagues have heard similar and equally tragic stories from families across our Province. While the current legislation only recognizes the financial contributions of an individual, I think you will agree that families and loved ones are often more concerned about justice and accountability when facing a tragic and unnecessary loss.

In a progressive and democratic society, I would argue that financial compensation, while also important, should not be the determining factor in a person’s value or worth. The emotional loss of a loved is often far greater than any dollar figure could capture. Equally important is that when someone dies in a tragic and preventable matter, we learn from these
situations and take steps to ensure it does not happen again. Under the current legislation these mechanisms simply don’t exist, unless the person who dies has a financial loss to be considered.
I am reminded of the story of another constituent who many years ago lost their child to a tragic accident involving a soccer net. She spent many years and a lot of time and effort advocating for change, not to the benefit of herself, but to prevent other children from suffering the same fate. As someone who has served for many years as a Member of the Legislature it is my opinion that this is one of the most noble and selfless ways, I have seen change occur.

Sharon and Michael have both suffered the tremendous loss of a loved one and any changes made now to the current Legislation are unlikely to change anything for them personally. However, they continue to share their stories and advocate so that others may be able to seek the justice they themselves were unable to find.

I am grateful that our government has committed to updating and modernizing the current legislation, and I have the utmost confidence in your ability to address the current gaps in the Family
Compensation Act.

This letter serves to add my voice to this issue and to offer my support in any way needed to ensure this Legislation is updated during this term of government. I would also like to encourage you to continuing working with Michael and the Wrongful Death Society, as they will be strong allies in this work and in gaining public support for the necessary changes.


Doug Routley MLA
Nanaimo-North Cowichan


PDF: Letter from MLA Routley to Minister Eby in Support of Modernizing BC’s Wrongful Death Laws


About the BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society

‘In Their Name’ is the campaign of ‘The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society’ – a BC registered non-profit organization comprised of volunteer families who have lost a loved one to wrongful death in BC and were denied access to justice. In response to the biggest human rights issue facing the province today, our goal is to modernize British Columbia’s antiquated wrongful death legislation, which predates confederation (1846). Under current legislation, the value of a human life is measured only by the deceased’s future lost income, so long as they had dependents.

As a result of the province’s antiquated law, access to justice has been denied to the families of the wrongfully killed who do not meet this discriminatory criteria. This has affected especially vulnerable groups, namely children, seniors, the disabled, and anyone without dependents when they are killed by the negligent or intentional acts of another.

BC is presently the last of all the provinces, yet to have undertaken this critical legislative modernization to allow for dignity, value, and protections for all its citizens under the law.

When it’s ‘free’ to kill in BC, wrongdoers are not held accountable. This lack of general deterrence holds the province back in terms of incentivizing innovation of safety measures and protocols to prevent wrongful deaths in the first place.

Here’s How You Can Get Involved…

The Premier of British Columbia, David Eby, is responsible for the modernization of BC’s wrongful death laws. Our Society provided David Eby with the drafted ‘Wrongful Death Accountability Act’ when he was acting as the Attorney General for British Columbia for 6 years between 2017-2022. The new Attorney General, Niki Sharma, also shares responsibility as she is the Minister responsible for the ‘Family Compensation Act’ – the current guiding piece of legislation that the civil courts must follow in cases of wrongful death. Minister Sharma receives feedback from the regional ‘Members of the Legislative Assembly’ (MLAs) and follows orders from the Premier, David Eby, who is ultimately responsible for modernization.

Reform is presently at a standstill, as the BC NDP government does not presently view access to justice for the surviving family members of the wrongfully killed as a priority in this province. This is despite the fact that the families behind our Society have been fighting for modernization for over two decades. And despite the fact that all other provinces, including the Yukon, have already modernized in most cases long ago.

The only way to move this forward is by creating massive public awareness and outcry for legislative modernization. Only under the scrutiny of the public and the media will our politicians be forced to take this necessary, and long overdue action.

How many more people will need to die from the same preventable wrongful actions before our politicians will do their job?

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