The British Columbia government is to provide a one-time grant of $7.9 million to help develop a new approach to legal-aid funding, averting a withdrawal of the service on Monday.
The Association of Legal Aid Lawyers says an agreement it has reached with the province means members will not limit or suspend the work they do.
The province says the deal includes an increase in payments to legal-aid workers from April 28 until Oct. 31 while a long-term agreement is negotiated.
The association says the agreement shows the government is taking legal-aid lawyers seriously.
Earlier this month, the association’s members voted to limit or suspend legal aid to back their demands for a funding increase to better pay lawyers.
The association says the only pay increase legal aid lawyers have received in 28 years was in 2006 when their hourly rate was boosted by 10 per cent.
It argues the average spent per person on legal aid in 1993 was $25.22 and, accounting for inflation, should now amount to about $40.
Under the agreement, the province will provide $4 million and $3.9 million will come from the Legal Services Society, a non-profit organization that oversees legal aid.
“We recognize there is work to be done to improve the legal-aid system both for British Columbians and the counsel that represent them in court,” said Attorney General David Eby. “Legal-aid lawyers provide services to some of the most vulnerable members of the province, and we will continue to work with LSS to address the historical underfunding of legal aid.”