When the CRT was first proposed, the intention was to improve access to justice in BC, as getting a strata matter heard by the BC Supreme Court is a lengthy and expensive process. Some of the initial objections to the CRT, as an online tribunal, were the chance we might inadvertently decrease access to justice for BC citizens without internet access, or with other barriers to participation. We’ve made sure to accommodate this in the CRT Rules.
If an applicant or respondent does not have access to a computer, the entire application and response process can be done on paper. This was not available in our early intake stages but is now available. In addition, many Service BC offices have public kiosks where citizens can access our website or send emails at no charge. Early in 2017, they’ll be able to pick up or drop off CRT Forms at Service BC locations. In addition, the CRT website has information in Chinese, Punjabi, Persian, Vietnamese, and Spanish. Translators can be accessed by intake staff and case managers free of charge, as the need arises.
Another way we are working to accommodate people’s various barriers is to simply ask how we can help.
Anyone who notes they have difficulty using English, or has a hearing or visual impairment, mental health issue or other special circumstance will be asked “Does this prevent you from representing yourself in the CRT proceedings? Is there anything that we need to know of, or is there any accommodation you may require, to help us manage this dispute?” This might mean that we use a communication method or style that is more accessible for the participant. If a participant chooses, they can have a helper throughout the process with no approval required. They can also request the CRT’s permission to have a representative communicate on their behalf.
All requests for accommodation are sent to the CRT’s case managers to make sure access is consistent for all parties. This ensures that all British Columbians can use the CRT no matter what their circumstances.