On Saturday, May 7, 2022, on the occasion of Mother’s Day, a rally was held at 1:00 PM in McBride Park in Vancouver with the presence of a number of families affected by the “Death due to negligence” law in the province of British Columbia (BC Wrongful Death Law).
In the last issue, we discussed in detail the issue of “death due to negligence” law. As we mentioned, this law is actually a part of the Family Compensation Act. The law only covers “direct pecuniary damages” resulting from death. For this reason, if a person who dies “due to negligence” is not the “breadwinner” of the family and does not have a wife or children, his survivors do not legally have the right to sue the wrongdoers and also receive compensation from them, and only a small amount for the funeral expenses. Survivors are paid, which in many cases is not enough even for this work, i.e. memorial service and burial.
In this rally, several of the survivors of the victims spoke about their loved ones and the problems they had after losing them to pursue the offenders legally and demanded to change the law in the province. After that, the attendees, who numbered several hundred, while holding placards with photos of the victims and also a request to change the wrongful death law, walked slowly through the sidewalks from the parking lot to the office of David Eby, the Attorney General of British Columbia. And they gathered in front of his office, which of course was closed. They pasted photos of their loved ones and posters asking for a change in the law on the glass of Mr. Ebe’s office, and also placed several flowers in front of his office.
The participants in this ceremony left the place around 3 pm while curious people were busy reading their sad stories on the glass of David Eby’s office.
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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