The Ministry of Attorney General announced on Tuesday morning that they have reached an agreement with the Association of Legal Aid Lawyers (ALL) and the Legal Services Society (LSS).
Attorney General David Eby said that the agreement will commit $28 million over three years towards assisting low-income British Columbians with legal aid.
The funds will be allocated to ALL and LSS in order to provide better compensation for lawyers who will take on cases involving low-income individuals.
“For more than a decade, legal aid lawyers have delivered services to British Columbians at below cost in order to help the most vulnerable members of our province,” said Eby. “The long-running underfunding of legal aid was profoundly unfair to British Columbians, especially in rural communities where there have been fewer and fewer lawyers – in some cases no lawyers at all – willing to take on dramatically underpaid legal aid cases.”
These funds are an extension of an earlier agreement that will see $6.1 million allocated to ALL and LSS this year, and $20 million a year for the next two years.
Jean Whittow, the board chair for LSS, welcomed the news. “With increased rates, LSS is confident it can attract and retain lawyers that can meet the legal needs of low-income people in British Columbia,” said Whittow. “We look forward to working with the Ministry of Attorney General and Association of Legal Aid Lawyers to further improve legal aid services in B.C.”
In March, the BC Government negotiated an agreement with LSS to avoid a legal aid strike. That funding provided payments to legal aid lawyers from Apr. 28 to Oct. 31.