On April 1, 2019, the Association of Legal Aid Lawyers, whose members comprise the majority of criminal, family, and immigration lawyers who practice legal aid work, will commence a job action. This action, which will increase in scale on April 15 and again on May 1, will cease only when the government of British Columbia fulfills its constitutional responsibilities to ensure that all people who face state violence and oppression through the legal system have adequate access to quality legal counsel.
The job action will only be successful if there is mass public support. This is where you come in! Use the form below to send an email to Attorney General of British Columbia David Eby, Premier of BC John Horgan, and many of the Ministers whose responsibilities touch on the legal system.
You can use the message already provided, or feel free to write your own:
Dear Attorney General, Premier, and Ministers,
I write to urge you to agree to the demands of the Association of Legal Aid Lawyers and provide adequate funding for legal aid in British Columbia.
Many of the most marginalized people in BC – including a vastly disproportionate number of Indigenous persons – rely on legal aid in order to access their basic constitutional rights at some of the most difficult times in their lives. Legal aid ensures that individuals who are charged with a crime, escaping violence in a relationship, or fleeing oppression in a foreign country receive adequate access to legal counsel who can guide them through the complex and often-antagonistic legal system. Ensuring that all people in British Columbia have access to lawyers who are competent and committed to their cause is essential to ensuring the legitimacy of our legal system and for providing just outcomes for all members of our society.
The failure to adequately fund Legal Aid is therefore a failure of British Columbia’s constitutional responsibilities.
In 1992, the government of British Columbia implemented a tax on legal services with the promise and goal that it would be used to fund legal aid. This tax – the only one of its kind in Canada – raises over $200 million per year. Yet, the level of funding provided to legal aid has remained essentially stagnant since it was implemented, and BC now ranks 10th among all provinces and territories in per capita legal aid funding. This is an embarrassment for our province.
The consequence of this lack of funding is an inadequate level of services of all kinds. The legal profession alone provides more than enough revenue to adequately fund legal aid. The only thing stopping it is a failure by the government to take necessary action. I strongly support the Association of Legal Aid Lawyers in their bold job action to push your government to fulfill its responsibilities.
Effective legal aid lawyers help vulnerable persons get access to necessary services. They assist people in managing their relationship with addiction. They help people living in poverty to find adequate housing, food, and other essential needs. They help refugees find stable homes and employment. When lawyers are overworked and underpaid, they cannot provide these services. Legal aid is about more than just the legal system, it is about ensuring that our Province provides the necessities of life to all of our people.
I ask you to fulfill your constitutional and ethical duties and provide adequate funding for legal aid. We must ensure justice is done for all people of British Columbia.
BC Goverment: Provide Adequate Funding for Legal Aid!Read or edit the petition
We currently have 87 of our target 100 signatures.
If you have sent the email and want to do more, you can call the Attorney General’s Office at 250-387-1866, and the Premier at 250-387-1715.
Finally, if you want to support the Law Union of BC in our efforts to build support for the job action, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.