New deal brings stability for BC's legal-aid system

Legal-aid deal reached

The British Columbia government has reached an agreement with legal aid lawyers who represent low-income clients.

Attorney General David Eby says the two-and-a-half-year deal with the Association of Legal Aid Lawyers and the Legal Aid Society will ensure better access to legal support and more stability for lawyers who have been giving services at below cost.

Eby says the lawyers who help some of the most vulnerable people had not seen a wage increase since 2006 and that in itself was "troubling."

He says the new agreement will allow for more duty counsel to provide advice on family and criminal matters and the province will open more clinics allowing people to access services such as use of computers and printers.

The deal sets a minimal level of service to ensure clients can access lawyers during future negotiations.

Eby says cutbacks to legal aid in 2002 led to backlogs, delays and people representing themselves in court, while the number of legal-aid cases dropped from over 47,000 to less than 30,000 under the former Liberal government.

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