B.C.’s Legal Aid Lawyers vote for job action to support funding demands

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, March 14, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The members of the Association of Legal Aid Lawyers (A.L.L.) have voted to withdraw their services beginning April 1st. An overwhelming 97% of those members who cast votes March 11-13 did so in favour of the job action, which will limit or suspend legal aid services effective April 1st.

The 590-member Association says the B.C. government’s shrinking legal aid budget doesn’t come close to meeting the needs of vulnerable people in British Columbia. In 1992/1993, per capita spending on legal aid was $25.22. To keep up with inflation, per capita spending should now be $39.72, instead of the current $14.99 in 2017/2018. In real terms, this represents a 60 per cent decrease from 1992/1993 levels. British Columbia ranks 10th out of 12 provinces and territories in per capita legal aid funding.

As a result of these cuts vulnerable and marginalized British Columbians are not receiving the legal help they need. Too many people facing difficult family, child-protection, immigration and criminal law problems are having to go to court alone.

B.C.’s Legal Aid lawyers have only had one pay raise in 28 years. That was in 2006 when there was a modest increase to the hourly rate of approximately 10 per cent.

In 1991, there were 1,500 practicing legal aid lawyers in B.C. Today, there are now only around 1,000 lawyers doing one or more files annually.

A.L.L. says that the near-unanimous vote for job action underscores that lawyers cannot continue doing this extremely difficult work under current conditions. The vote is an overwhelming endorsement from the family, criminal, child protection and immigration legal aid lawyers of B.C. for A.L.L.’s position that the present legal aid crisis requires immediate government attention.

A.L.L. will now continue the organization of its members for withdrawal of their services on an escalating basis commencing April 1.

For more information bclegalaidlawyers.ca
Ross Sullivan 
Peak Communicators 
Ph: 604 689-5559 
Cell: 604 802-7139 
Email: rsullivan@peakco.com