THE Legal Services Society (LSS) has introduced a provincewide legal aid service that will be available to people who would not normally qualify for legal aid.
By reducing eligibility rules, legal aid lawyers will be able to help more people in B.C. navigate the criminal justice system – people who would otherwise have to represent themselves in court. It will be available throughout the province and will help eligible clients get legal advice on cases that are suitable for early resolution.
“This new service will work towards ensuring that British Columbians have equal access to justice,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “Increasing access to justice is one more way we are making life better for people in B.C., particularly those who are underserved or marginalized.”
The program is supported by funding that the Ministry of Attorney General provides to LSS to establish and administer an effective system for providing legal aid to British Columbians. It is part of government’s commitment to improve legal aid service delivery for courts, lawyers and most importantly, the people who rely on legal aid services.
“My ministry is working with LSS to remove barriers to justice and help people resolve their disputes early,” said Eby. “We are also ensuring progress is made on priorities like expanding poverty law services and working with Indigenous partners to create a justice system that works better for Indigenous peoples.”
Government has committed to fund up to $2 million in 2019-20 for pilot legal clinics in up to eight communities that will provide free legal advice and advocacy. Budget 2018 also included an investment of $26 million over the following three fiscal years to help provide criminal, family and civil legal aid services.
People who could benefit from LSS’s new early resolution legal aid service are encouraged to contact LSS to learn more.
* The financial eligibility cut-off for this legal aid service is $1,000 higher than for regular legal aid services. Clients do not have to face jail time to qualify.
* Previously, LSS had to deny service to 1,200 criminal legal aid applicants each year because their incomes were over the financial eligibility limit or they were not facing jail time.
* The program will help people with matters that can be resolved within 90 days and before setting a trial date.