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Stories from the Frontline: Tanner Senko

We love our frontline staff! In this edition of Stories from the Frontline, we hear from Tanner Senko, Resolution Support Clerk at the Civil Resolution Tribunal.


Years/time you’ve been in this sector?

I started in this sector March 2019. I’ve been working for the Civil Resolution Tribunal for just over a year and a half now.

What was your background prior to working in this role/sector?

Prior to this role, I spent 11 years working for the City of Victoria. I was a Lifeguard and Swim Instructor, eventually growing to become a Team Lead. As an instructor, I got to teach people of every age — from six-months old to 96-years old. As a lifeguard I performed rescues, emergency first-aid, and many situational de-escalations. For school, I attended Camosun College. There, I completed a Diploma in Business Administration, followed by my undergraduate degree in Professional Communications at Royal Roads University.

Describe your role as it is on paper. Now describe how it actually goes in real life.

On Paper: As Resolution Support Clerks, my team and I assess new claim applications to determine whether they are within the jurisdiction of the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT), confirm the standing of parties, assess the complexity of issues and the processes required to deal with the issues, manage a high volume of claim files, respond to public inquiries, support senior CRT staff, and assist with the CRT’s continuous improvement.

In Real Life: How the rubber hits the road isn’t too far from what the role is, on paper. We help introduce and orient people to our current system of civil litigation in British Columbia. This means sending a lot of emails. Emails providing general dispute information; emails requesting people clarify their applications; emails establishing firm boundaries between us and the public. It’s a ceaseless effort to remind and reinforce our position as neutral decision makers in the mind of the public. Aside from that, it’s exactly what it sounds like on paper.

How have you and your team had to adapt during the pandemic for service delivery?

Fortunately, our office was able to make the switch to remote service delivery rather quickly. All of our correspondence with dispute participants is done through mail, phone, and email. There was a bit of a hurdle when it came to mailing documents. Some members of our team stepped up to volunteer to handle all of our printing and mailing. Up until recently, this meant we had two or three people shouldering all the mail for our Victoria office; for, what I would imagine to be, six very long months. Along with that, our meetings, training sessions, and social events are now performed virtually.

What is one thing (or more) you’d like others to know about your work that they probably don’t realize?

For me, the CRT is a fascinating office to be a part of. This is especially true when it comes to translating legislation into policy and procedure. Many fields of work can feel static, or rigid. The CRT, on the other hand, is constantly adapting to changes in jurisdiction or legislation. That said, I’d like others to know that we get to influence the practical application of this translation process. Being party to groundbreaking legal innovations, practices, and technologies, we’re provided opportunities to shape how the future of justice in B.C. unfolds.

Where do you see sector innovation or modernization most clearly in your work?

The fact that we can facilitate a civil dispute, front-to-back, through completely remote means is where I see this the most. We can provide access to justice services, albeit to select jurisdictional matters, to an entire province from two offices. Key innovations here are how we strive to integrate user focused design and alternative dispute resolution methods. Jargon aside, we innovate to reduce barriers, provide options other than lawyers and court, and change how the public thinks about civil justice.

Describe what innovation means to you in the context of your work. Why does it matter? Where do you see it happening? Where would you like to see more of it?

To me, innovation is divided internally and externally.

Internally, it means honing our procedures to further grow our capacity. Listening to each other’s suggestions, exploring their validity, testing their application, and implementing positive change across teams. This matters because we align ourselves with user focused design. We owe it to the users to reassess our internal operations so we may provide more for less.

Externally, it means being transparent with our intentions and goals. Given that roughly half of our users are here involuntarily, being up front with our role is paramount. The more easily we can communicate our purpose and position, the better prepared users will be for the process. Our website and user interface is crucial for this. Adapting this interface to the fluid needs of the user is an ongoing endeavour.

How do you connect your work to the bigger picture?

From legislation, to policy, to procedure, to me. You could say that my role is to screen applications and explain our processes. Open-and-shut, that’s pretty accurate. The bigger picture, is that I get to introduce people to this modern take on civil justice. It’s a newer method of service delivery, and lots of people have lots of questions. My role is to set the expectations of what’s to come, ensuring the users start off with the right trajectory. Yes, I screen applications, take calls, attend virtual meetings, and send emails — but it’s more than that. Case by case, my team and I are helping alleviate the strain on our provincial court system. We’re teaching people what to expect with this newer technology. And, more than ever before, we’re showing that civil justice is accessible to those whom it’s always been meant for.

Thank you, Tanner.