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

COVID-19 tests come back negative in remote First Nation community

“There are no suspected cases in the community at this time.”

Wildway Farms open for business in Hagensborg

Local entrepreneurs Gwyneth Anderson and Joseph Battensby are hard at work at their new business

Young boy finds mask stolen during recent break-in

Gage Pootlass immediately took the mouse mask back to its rightful owner, Kathleen Booth

Bear gets into garbage at Thorsen Creek Landfill after waste disposed into wrong bin

A grizzly bear accessed garbage that was put in the wrong bin and ended up outside the electric fence

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

B.C. wildfire crews have battled 111 blazes in the last seven days

Twenty-nine fires remain active, as of Friday (Aug 7)

‘We don’t make the rules’: Okanagan pub owner says staff harassed over pandemic precautions

‘If you have six people plus a baby, guess what? That’s seven’ - West Kelowna Kelly O’Bryan’s owner

T-Rex earns big bids at B.C. dino auction

Over 500 dino-themed lots sold to buyers from across North America

Most Read