Funding cuts limit access to legal aid
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 | 10:59 AM MT
A funding crisis is forcing Alberta Legal Aid to reduce the number of people eligible for legal assistance.
Legal Aid is lowering the income level for eligible clients by 30 per cent. It's part of a one-year pilot project which starts April 6.
"We're currently operating with a funding shortfall. So it does come down to funding," said Legal Aid communications director, Jennifer Fowler.
The change should save $5.6 million a year. But it means 6,100 fewer people would receive funding to hire a lawyer.
"Legal Aid is not happy with having to reduce eligibility requirements," Fowler said. "But in order to remain sustainable, this is where our biggest expenditure is."
Plan faces $20 million deficit
Legal Aid is funded by the province, the Alberta Law Foundation, investment income and grants.
Overall, funding has dropped by more than 20 per cent over two years, creating a gap of about $20 million a year, according to the 2009 Legal Aid Alberta Review from November 2009.
The Alberta NDP is calling on the province to make up the shortfall so people aren't put at risk of losing access to lawyers.
"Government has a responsibility to properly fund Legal Aid," NDP MLA Rachel Notley said in a news release. "No Albertan is any less deserving of justice than another, and limiting access by 30 per cent means 6,100 Albertans who need legal aid, won't get it."
Other changes to the program include an expansion of services, which include faster needs assessments, family mediation services in Edmonton and Calgary, and the addition of more duty counsel in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer and Lethbridge.
Legal Aid and the province plan to review the impact of the changes at the end of the pilot project.
Latest Edmonton News Headlines
- Unlicensed teen ticketed for high-speed drive
- A teenage girl without a licence pulled over for speeding on a highway near Calgary is facing several charges. more »
- Alberta's beef industry: 10 years after mad cow crisis
- Alberta's beef industry is still in decline, with Canadians eating less of the meat and fewer producers raising cattle 10 years after BSE, or mad cow disease, savaged the industry. more »
- Edmonton man runs into traffic, killed by car
- A 26-year-old man became the city's third traffic death on the long weekend early Monday morning after he was hit by car in southwest Edmonton. more »
- Wheelchair rugby grows in popularity
- Wheelchair rugby is seeing a rise in popularity across Alberta, with clubs in Calgary and Edmonton reporting new members. more »
Top News Headlines
- Unknown remains found on Dellen Millard's farm
- Police searching the farm of Dellen Millard, the 27-year-old charged with first-degree murder after the remains of Ancaster, Ont., man Tim Bosma were discovered, have found other remains on the property, but it's unclear if they are human or animal. more »
- Canadian on EI shut out amid foreign worker influx
- A jobless Canadian IT professional who is collecting employment insurance is upset because he now suspects several recent jobs he applied for went to temporary foreign workers. more »
- Can the Senate fire a senator?
- An expert on parliamentary rules says the Senate has the power to turf a senator from the chamber, as long as a majority approves the expulsion, and as long as there is cause. more »
- Nahlah Ayed: Vote-wary Iranians mull Ahmadinejad's successor
- Iranians go to the polls in less than four weeks to choose a new president. The reform movement is still smarting from its bitter defeat four years ago, but the jockeying for power is no less intense, Nahlah Ayed reports. more »
- Jeep driver apologizes after stunt kills Edmonton woman
- Edmonton boy, 2, killed after car hits patio
- Man charged in stabbings near Kingsway transit station
- 1 dead, 6 injured in Edson crash
- Six campers rescued after getting lost in Kananaskis Country
- Spectator killed at Edmonton Jeep event
- Abducted woman found
- Pigeon Lake businesses look forward to full season of camping
- Seniors targeted by Edmonton jewellery thieves