The Legal Services Society (LSS) welcomes news that the Ministry of Attorney General and Association of Legal Aid Lawyers (ALL) have reached an agreement on better rates (called tariffs) for lawyers who work with legal aid clients.
Attorney General David Eby made the announcement today in Vancouver. “For more than a decade, legal aid lawyers have delivered services to British Columbians at below cost in order to help the most vulnerable members of our province,” he said. “The long-running underfunding of legal aid was profoundly unfair to British Columbians, especially in rural communities where there have been fewer and fewer lawyers – in some cases no lawyers at all – willing to take on dramatically underpaid legal aid cases.”
LSS Board Chair Jean Whittow said, “LSS is now more confident than ever that it can attract and retain lawyers to do legal aid on behalf of our clients.” Referring to past lawyer service withdrawals over low rates, she added: “With this agreement, low income individuals can be assured that our services will not be disrupted and that the lawyer who helps them is properly compensated for their effort.”
The agreement provides a framework for future tariff rate negotiations and establishes which legal aid services would be considered essential in the event of a lawyer service withdrawal. It also states a commitment to future consultations between government and ALL – with LSS’s support – regarding eligibility, scope and the quality of legal aid services as part of the ministry’s legal assistance strategy for the province.
In 2018, the Attorney General announced an increase of $26 million in legal aid funding over three years to improve access to justice in BC -- the largest funding increase since 2002.