Legal Aid closing northern Alberta offices, cutting jobs in Calgary

Legal Aid Alberta is closing offices in Fort McMurray, Whitecourt, Peace River, St. Paul and Grande Prairie following earlier pleas for additional government funding

Legal Aid Alberta is closing offices in Fort McMurray, Whitecourt, Peace River, St. Paul, Wetaskiwin and Grande Prairie following earlier pleas for additional government funding. 

Thirty-five jobs will be cut with 16 positions moving to a centralized phone service in Edmonton. People who have been laid-off will get the first right to those new Edmonton positions, but they would have to move. 

Centres will remain open in Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer and Edmonton. However, there will be 12 fewer jobs in Calgary.

The offices in Fort McMurray, Wetaskiwin and Grande Prairie closed on Monday. 

Legal Aid Alberta has said it needs at least another $8 million in funding each year to continue helping people who can’t afford lawyers on their own. 

Despite these past pleas for help, Legal Aid spokeswoman Jan Archbold said the cuts have nothing to do with a lack of funding. 

"What we're doing is centralizing some of those services," she said. "People simply aren't using the in-person, drop-in service anymore. They're wanting to use the telephones."

Alberta Justice Minister Jonathan Denis has said additional funding should come from the federal government and that his government has been “doing its part.”