11 November 2009

More Cuts to Legal Aid, Part 1

The axe has fallen on the Legal Services Society once more. LSS, the organization which provides legal aid in this province, was first hit with funding cuts in 2002. Those cuts resulted in the scaling back of family law services and a refocusing of LSS's delivery model away from hands-on litigation assistance toward litigation advice and web- and telephone-based legal information services. On the bright side, this change resulted in a significant improvement of LSS's primary website and the development of a fantastic website on family law issues. On the less bright side, the funding of legal services for family law cases was nearly extinguished.

The new cuts will see the LawLINE advice service, the Community Advocate Support Line, and all but one of legal aid's regional offices by 1 April 2010. Although more than 50 staff members will lose their jobs and I understand that almost all of LSS's staff lawyers have been let go, LSS's executive director, Mark Benton, has said that service levels won't be affected.

An employees' group called Access to Justice has posted a news release about the cuts, a collection of links to other stories about the cuts and an online petition you can sign; please visit their website. LSS's 3 November 2009 news release is available here.