CBA Alberta wants more money for legal aid

By Terry Davidson

Law360 Canada (September 1, 2022, 3:22 PM EDT) -- The Canadian Bar Association in Alberta is calling for more money to be put into legal aid, noting a provincial election set for next year.

On Aug. 29, the CBA’s Alberta branch issued a statement maintaining that it “has long advocated for adequate, sustainable and predictable funding for the justice system as a whole, including legal aid.”

The CBA Alberta wants its provincial government to step up.

“Adequately funded legal aid is key to a properly functioning justice system, and without it, our justice system will continue to deteriorate,” it states. “The legal aid services provided to lower-income Albertans ensure that those who need representation can access it, and that our courts run smoothly and efficiently as a result.”

The CBA Alberta goes on to note that it had researched the value of increasing investments in legal aid, finding that “a modest increase … would result in a net cost savings to the government by allowing more Albertans to access legal aid services and reduce the number of unrepresented litigants in our court system, thereby reducing overall court costs.”

With this, the CBA Alberta vows to continue its advocacy.

“As we approach the 2023 provincial election, the CBA Alberta will continue to work with stakeholders in the legal community and the government to advocate for increased funding for legal aid and other areas of our justice system.”

According to Elections Alberta, the date of the next general election in that province is May 29, 2023.

Criminal lawyers in the province have been sounding the alarm as of late, noting years-long legal aid underfunding that is resulting in an access to justice crisis. A four-year funding agreement was reportedly put in place in 2018, but funding decreased in 2020.

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