Legal aid funds pay ‘duty counsel’ lawyers to represent people in criminal and some family law cases. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

The B.C. government has funded a settlement with legal aid lawyers that will see $28 million added over three years to pay for representing people facing criminal charges or seeking protection in family cases.

Attorney General David Eby said Tuesday the funding will restore “duty counsel” service in communities around the province that have not had lawyers willing to provide the service. It’s the first increase in their pay rate since 2006, and it is expected to reduce the number of people who are unrepresented in court, Eby said.

Jean Whittow, chair of the Legal Services Society that administers legal aid in B.C., gave examples of the work of legal aid lawyers at the announcement, held outside the provincial courthouse in Vancouver.

Whittow read from a thank-you card sent to a lawyer from a woman who got assistance for a protection order in family court. Another client wrote after being represented in a criminal case, describing how the lawyer helped him “make amends” for his crime while on probation.

A third client was thankful for assistance while “facing gender-based violence in her home country,” and was now able to focus on her children and starting a new life, Whittow said.

RELATED: New recruits alleviate B.C. court sheriff shortage

RELATED: Man arrested for break-ins at B.C. courthouse

Eby said the funds extend an interim agreement with the society reached last spring, providing $6.1 million for the rest of the current year and $20 million for each of the next two years to pay legal aid lawyer fees.

Chris Johnson, a director of the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C., said the agreement provides stability for 645 lawyers who do legal aid work, and provides a basis for a longer-term agreement covering those who represent vulnerable clients.

Legal aid lawyers represent the most vulnerable people involved with the court system, including those with addictions, mental health issues and Indigenous people, and have long been the worst-paid lawyers in the system, Eby said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Courtenay Hero Wall gives thanks to frontline workers

People wanting to thank frontline workers in the Comox Valley can add… Continue reading

Comox Valley Transition Society available for women who need help throughout pandemic

“We anticipate more women than usual will access our resources, but we do have plans in place.”

Clothing store in Courtenay closes doors after 23 years

Trousers owner Shelley Greenup says the time was right to say goodbye

Hip tradition sing-along planned again for Canadians April 2

The Tragically Hip’s Paul Langlois is encouraging all to join him virtually in a’Porch Session.’

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

Comox Valley grocers going extra mile during coronavirus

We have had numerous requests to post a fluid article directing consumers… Continue reading

B.C. health care workers gain access to virtual health care options

During COVID-19 many clinics have closed, leaving health care workers with nowhere to turn

Tax collectors, auditors to help field ‘historic’ numbers of benefit-seeking callers

‘If you work for CRA, people think we are just there to take money from your pockets.’

Family uses social media to help truckers find places to eat during pandemic

Restaurants Serving Drivers in Western Canada seeks to provide a list of places open for drivers

Advocates sound alarm over COVID-19 limiting access to contraceptives, abortion

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit sexual-health services from almost every angle

Cowichan couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

Park users concerned about tree cutting in Comox conservation area

During a recent visit to the Northeast Woods in Comox, a woman… Continue reading

Most Read