British Columbia

Province spending $2M to open 8 new legal clinics across B.C.

Specialty clinics will provide free legal counsel for those struggling with issues like housing, poverty, immigration, child protection and disability needs. They'll be located in Vancouver, Surrey, Kelowna, Kamloops and Prince George.

Each clinic will receive up to $250K in government funding to hire lawyers and legal staff

Attorney General David Eby announces $2-million in provincial funding for eight new legal clinics to improve access to justice in communities across B.C. (Tanya Fletcher / CBC)

Eight new legal clinics will open across B.C. after a cash injection of $2 million from the provincial government.

Each clinic will receive a grant of up to $250,000 to hire lawyers and support staff as a way to improve access to justice.

"More than a website, more than a handbook, these are people who will actually be in communities helping people work through their problems and potentially helping them in tribunals or courts across the province," Attorney General David Eby announced Monday.

"This investment allows several existing legal advocacy offices to become legal clinics, staffed with experienced lawyers who will offer guidance and support to the most vulnerable members of the communities they serve," he said at a news conference in Vancouver.

Some of the clinics will be specialty clinics offering free legal advice related to specific issues like housing, poverty, immigration, disability and child protection. 

The first clinic will open in Vancouver through the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre, designed to help renters with tenancy problems.

Exact locations for other clinics are still being finalized, but jobs have already been posted in Prince George, Kamloops, Kelowna and Surrey. 

The grants will be awarded through the non-profit Law Foundation of B.C., which will provide the new clinics with coaching and support.

"Legal clinics staffed by lawyers and advocates are a very effective way to help people who cannot afford lawyers to help assist them in their poverty and civil law problems," said executive director Josh Paterson. 

"The investment in these kinds of services is really not very costly in terms of up-front costs and can save so much," he told reporters. "This is part of a strategy of trying to intervene early with access to justice to stop problems before they get bigger."

The creation of these types of clinics was part of a legal aid review done earlier this year that yielded 25 recommendations.

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