Alberta Mirror

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Defense lawyers intimidate job action over Legal Aid Alberta funding

Alberta

Key takeaways: 

  • The government will assume future funding increases, but attorneys say they are required now.
  • The associations prepare to meet on Wednesday evening to discuss and vote on the following measures, including drawing their services. 

Three associations represent hundreds of defense lawyers in Alberta’s strong-arm job action if the local government does not raise funding for Legal Aid Alberta.

The Criminal Defence Lawyers’ Association of Calgary, the Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Association of Edmonton, and the Southern Alberta Defence Lawyers’ Association of Lethbridge sent letters to Justice Minister Tyler Shandro in mid-July asking for a budget discussion before July 29.

The organizations say the government denies adequately financing Legal Aid Alberta (LAA). This non-profit association provides legal services to Albertans in family, domestic violence, child welfare, immigration, and criminal defense cases.

The defense lawyers tell Alberta lawyers who take legal support cases are underpaid compared to those in Manitoba, British Columbia, and Ontario and that numerous have become crown prosecutors to get better wages.

“The tiniest provision of legal aid services in Alberta is at a breaking point,” the groups said in a joint news release Saturday.

Read more: Edmonton police probing apartment fire considered fishy

Three associations represent hundreds of defense lawyers in Alberta’s strong-arm job action if the local government does not raise funding for Legal Aid Alberta

The associations intend to meet on Wednesday evening to discuss and vote on the following measures, including withdrawing their services.

Danielle Boisvert, president of the CTLA in Edmonton, stated job action “would have a severe, direct and immediate effect on everybody else in the justice system.”

She said without legal aid attorneys; many more Albertans would try to express themselves in court, leading to more work for crown prosecutors and judges and raising the probability of criminal convictions.

Pay differences

LAA, primarily funded by the region, served more than 34,000 customers last year.

Boisvert said legal aid cases make up nearly half of most defense lawyers’ workload, but the percentage is much higher for junior solicitors.

Source – CBC News

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