The Province and the Legal Services Society (LSS) have announced a one-time grant of $7.9 million to support the development of a new framework for legal aid funding.
The funding – $4 million from the government and $3.9 million from LSS – will be used to increase payments to legal aid lawyers from April 28, 2019, until Oct. 31, 2019. This will ensure lawyers continue to provide legal aid services to those most in need, while the government, LSS and the Association of Legal Aid Lawyers (ALL) negotiate an agreement for long-term, sustainable legal aid funding.
“We recognize there is work to be done to improve the legal aid system both for British Columbians and the counsel that represent them in court,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “Legal aid lawyers provide services to some of the most vulnerable members of the province, and we will continue to work with LSS to address the historical underfunding of legal aid.”
The Law Foundation of BC is a non-profit foundation with a mandate to fund legal aid and other law-related initiatives. The foundation will receive the grant and work with government, LSS and ALL to allocate the funding.
The ALL negotiating team has issued this statement: “We appreciate the recognition by government of the important work our members do for vulnerable British Columbians, and look forward to negotiations that will provide a solution to a very much neglected legal aid system.”
Government, LSS and ALL have also committed to designing a long-term legal aid negotiation framework, paving the way for a smoother negotiating process in the future.
This grant is in addition to the $26 million over three years (2018-19 through 2020-21) in increased funding to LSS already announced by government to support the provision of criminal, family and civil legal aid services.