Delivering on its commitment to enhance access to justice for British Columbians, the Government of B.C. has provided a $250,000 grant to establish a new legal clinic at the Kamloops and District Elizabeth Fry Society.
“Cuts to legal aid by the previous government meant that often times residents of the Kamloops area had to seek legal assistance and advice over the phone with lawyers in Vancouver, if they could find help at all,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “With the new legal clinic here in Kamloops, residents are now able to connect in person with a lawyer who is able to provide legal aid face to face.”
The Kamloops and District Elizabeth Fry Society is a community-based non-profit agency that offers programs and services related to housing and community, with a focus on women and youth. The society provides programs, services and public education aimed at building a healthy and safe community by minimizing barriers, meeting the needs of marginalized people and fostering personal growth and self-sufficiency.
The grant, which was awarded through the Law Foundation of BC, is part of a $2-million commitment by government that will support eight advocacy clinics in the province to hire experienced lawyers and staff who can offer legal advice to their clients and act as legal counsel in proceedings. The foundation will provide coaching, tools and support to enhance the services provided by the society, all at no cost to their clients.
“Navigating the justice system can be a costly and stressful experience, particularly for the most vulnerable residents of our province,” Eby said. “This funding sends a clear message that our government is helping ensure that all British Columbians are able to access the legal assistance they require whenever they need it.”
Cassandra Schwarz, executive director, Kamloops and District Elizabeth Fry Society —
“The new poverty law clinic significantly improves access to justice for low-income individuals in our community. Many of our clients were previously forced to access lawyers outside of our community, creating barriers to services that many do not have the ability to overcome. The addition of a poverty law clinic in our community is a great step forward in reducing these barriers and supporting the rights of low-income individuals that has been ignored for too many years.”
Josh Paterson, executive director, Law Foundation of BC —
“The Law Foundation of BC is pleased to support the people of Kamloops and the Thompson-Nicola region through this announcement. There is no substitute for face-to-face interactions when it comes to legal counsel, and we are confident this funding will only enhance the Kamloops and District Elizabeth Fry Society’s ability to provide support and improved outcomes for vulnerable people.”
Brandy, client, Kamloops and District Elizabeth Fry Society —
“When my case needed assistance from a lawyer, I had to contact an organization in Vancouver. This is an awesome idea. I like talking face-to-face, not over the phone. Being a visual person, I find it better to have the personal contact. Having everything in one spot saves time, whether it is searching for the legal provider that can address my need, meeting regularly with my representative as my case progresses, or making it easier, financially and physically, to provide evidence and documents in a timely fashion.”
Law Foundation of BC: https://www.lawfoundationbc.org/
Kamloops and District Elizabeth Fry Society: www.kamloopsefry.com