|For immediate release||January 26, 2001|
Law Society demands adequate legal aid funding
VANCOUVER – The Law Society of B.C. is urging the attorney general to increase funding for the Legal Services Society which administers the legal aid program throughout the province.
"The Legal Services Society’s annual report for 1999-2000 indicates all too clearly that more funding is essential if the Society is to provide adequate legal aid," Law Society President Richard Margetts said. "The Society’s base funding has been frozen at $81.5 million since 1996 while factors over which the Society has no control continue to result in increased costs."
Margetts noted the Legal Services Society had to deal with an unexpected increase in refugee claimants in 1999 as well as a court ruling requiring the Society to provide services to prisoners facing disciplinary proceedings.
"The government has provided grants to address some of these increased expenses, but nothing has been done to address the systemic denial of legal aid caused by inadequate funding," he said.
Two reports issued last year, Where the Axe Falls, commissioned by the Law Society of B.C. and Access to Justice Denied, by the Women’s Access to Legal Aid Coalition, offered compelling evidence that inadequate legal aid funding has its most serious impact on single women and the working poor.
"It’s the people who most often need legal advice, such as single mothers in family court, who are not getting the legal aid they need. That’s why the Legal Services Society needs more money," Margetts said.
The Law Society of B.C. was founded in 1869 and is the governing body of the legal profession in B.C. It is an independent organization funded by dues paid by all B.C. lawyers. Under the provisions of the Legal Profession Act, the Law Society’s principal responsibility is to uphold and protect the public interest in the administration of justice by setting standards for the licensing, professional conduct and discipline of the more than 10,000 lawyers in B.C. All lawyers in B.C. must be members of the Law Society.
For more information:
- Where the Axe Falls is available on the Law Society of B.C.’s website.
- Access to Justice Denied is available on the Canadian Bar Association’s website.
Law Society of B.C. media contact:
Brad Daisley, Public Affairs Manager
Office: 604-443-5724 or 1-800-903-5300 toll-free in B.C.