Budget 2022 is committing $8.19 million in new, ongoing annual funding for legal aid services in the province, helping people get the timely legal services they need.
Of this funding, $7.47 million is an increase to Legal Aid BC’s budget to support lawyers delivering legal aid in the province, while the remaining $730,000 will go to the Society for Children and Youth to fund the expansion of a legal clinic to meet the growing demand for legal services for children and youth by making more lawyers available throughout the province.
Between December 2019 and June 2021, the Ministry of Attorney General, the Association of Legal Aid Lawyers and Legal Aid BC worked to identify gaps in legal aid service delivery and various options for addressing them.
From the new funding, $3.55 million will allow expanded and enhanced service delivery as follows:
- assign junior counsel in all murder and manslaughter cases and in other identified cases to ensure that the next generation of criminal defence lawyers are properly trained;
- pre-authorize a certain number of hours for expert witnesses in criminal cases to reduce the possibility of wrongful convictions because Crown expert evidence is not challenged;
- enhance the Criminal Early Resolution Contract to provide legal representation to more clients whose matter was not able to be resolved out of court;
- provide stable, ongoing funding for the Family Limited Representation Contract and expand the financial eligibility for this service to help families in distress navigate the court system; and
- provide the Society for Children and Youth with funding to expand a legal clinic to meet the growing demand for legal services for children and youth and by providing access to more lawyers across the province.
The remaining $4.65 million in new funding is being provided to Legal Aid BC to support and expand the delivery of legal aid services by lawyers in the province.