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A just society requires properly funded legal aid – BCLocalNews.com
by ahnationtalk on August 9, 201778 Views
Aug 9, 2017
In Canada, we proudly call ourselves a “just society.” We are fortunate that the rule of law is a cornerstone of our constitution. Through it, everyone — all public and private persons, institutions and organizations, including government — is bound by and entitled to the benefit of laws publicly made. However, without a properly funded system of legal aid, a “just society” is a hollow promise and the ability to ensure that the law applies equally to all persons suffers greatly.
The most vulnerable members of communities throughout B.C. require professional legal services when they face threats to their liberty and safety. Without access to legal assistance, these individuals and their families may be at risk of physical harm, emotional trauma and economic insecurity, which can lead to additional draws on already scarce community resources. Yet since the mid-1990s there has been a reduction in both provincial and federal spending on legal aid. Legal aid went through a dramatic transformation in 2002 when legislative changes and funding reductions led to a restructuring of legal aid services, which in B.C. are provided by the Legal Services Society. The changes eliminated legal aid for poverty law, restricted family law to child protection and emergency services in cases involving domestic violence, and decreased the society’s budget by nearly 40 per cent over three years. Rising costs and declining revenue forced further cuts to services and staffing in 2009 and 2010.
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