B.C. Legal Aid Commission Concludes System Broken
Commissioner Leonard T. Doust makes 7 overarching findings:
"The legal aid system is failing needy individuals and families, the justice system, and our communities.
Legal information is not an adequate substitute for legal assistance and representation.
Timing of accessing legal aid is key.
There is a broad consensus concerning the need for innovative, client-focused legal aid services.
Steps must be taken to meet legal aid needs in rural communities.
More people should be eligible for legal aid.
Legal aid should be fully funded as an essential public service."
To remedy the situation, he presents a number of recommendations, including:
- Recognize legal aid as an essential public service
- Develop a new approach to define core services and priorities
- Modernize and expand financial eligibility
- Establish regional legal aid centres and innovative service delivery
- There must be greater collaboration between public and private legal aid service providers
- Provide more support to legal aid providers
- Legal aid fails B.C.'s most vulnerable, commission concludes (Vancouver Sun, March 9, 2011)
- Attorney-general rejects claims that B.C. legal-aid is in crisis (Globe and Mail, March 8, 2011)
- B.C. not providing most basic legal aid needs: report (Legal Feeds - blog of Canadian Lawyer and Law Times, March 9, 2011)