Liberal Justice Critic calls on province to increase legal aid funding
The Alberta Liberals want the provincial government to boost funding to Alberta Legal Aid.
Alberta Liberal Justice Critic Laurie Blakeman is calling on the Minister of Justice to spend an additional $12 million every year, bringing total funding for the program to $70 million.
Legal Aid provides legal support to those that otherwise may not have access or be able to afford legal services in the province.
In a release Monday, Blakeman said the province should take steps to make sure lower-income Albertans have the same legal access as everyone else.
“Alberta is well under the national average for per capita spending on Legal Aid,” said Blakeman. "Thisunderfunding is leading to a plethora of individuals having no choice but to represent themselves in court."
Speaking at the Alberta Legislature, Blakeman said investing the money now would save the government in the long run.
“So, people that are are self-representing – they don’t know what they’re doing and they make mistakes everything takes longer there can be appeals that all takes longer nobody is being well served by this,” she said Monday.
“Legal Aid is an investment not a cost, it helps the system run better, pays for itself and in fact saves money, and is meant to ensure that all individuals are given proper legal advice.”
In a statement provided to CBC News, Alberta Justice Minister Jonathan Denis said the province has been working with Legal Aid and the Law Society to find a solution to the funding issue.
Denis said Ottawa needs to increase federal funding to the province, noting Alberta has not seen an increase in 9 years.
“While we continue to work with Legal Aid to find a solution here in Alberta, I encourage Ms. Blakeman to contact her local MP and similarly lobby for increased federal funding,” he wrote.