02 January 2012

Slight Increase in Funding for Legal Aid

The Attorney General has announced a slight increasing in funding for the Legal Services Society, the organization that provides legal aid in British Columbia. According to the press release, additional funds of $2.1 million, which I calculate to amount to 3% of the society's present budget, are meant to
"assist families with emergency family matters related to custody or access, as well as to provide for representation for parents with children in the custody of the Ministry of Children and Family Development."
Although I'm happy for any increasing in funding at all, the categories of service the funds are earmarked for are existing categories. In fact, they're all that's left of legal aid services for family law matters since the eviscerating budget cuts of 2001.

The Times Colonist has published an article on the Attorney General's announcement that talks about the underfunding of legal aid in a little more depth.

Update: 4 January 2012

The Trial Lawyers Association of BC is protesting the continued underfunding of legal by its members withdrawing from duty counsel services throughout the province for the week. Says the TLABC on its website:
"The Battle for Legal Aid in BC has entered a crucial new phase, as the first wave of Duty Counsel service withdrawals is now in effect. The service withdrawals will be conducted as a four-part escalating series, with counsel standing down for the first week of January, two weeks in February, three weeks in March and all of April. Further forms of so-called job action are already being evaluated."
Read the CBC's report on the TLABC's action, or visit the CBA British Columbia's We Need Legal Aid website.