Lawyers that provide Legal Aid representation to clients in Vancouver criminal courts have taken action to withdraw their services this month. Legal Aid lawyers will not be taking on any new cases until early August. Further job action will be taken beginning the first week of October and the plan is to withdraw all legal aid services at Vancouver Provincial Court for the first week of every month thereafter.
A series of BC governments have not increased legal aid funding since 1992. in fact overall funding has decreased from 93 million dollars a decade ago to about 74 million currently. Clearly, lawyers are being asked to do more with less funding. This, in spite of the fact that in 1992, the Liberal government of the day introduced a 7% provincial sales tax on all legal fees in the province. This tax was intended to offset legal aid costs but that revenue was never designated to go directly to fund legal aid. The tax flows, instead, to general revenue.
See, Vancouver Sun article: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/lawyers+withdraw+services+protest+lack+legal+funding/10009039/story.html?__federated=1
We fully support BC Lawyers in their effort to restore legal aid funding to appropriate levels. We encourage all members of the public to contact their local MLA and let them know that the government ought to do more to support legal aid in British Columbia.