NS Government: Better Support for Those Who Use Legal Aid
February 25, 2020
Changes introduced to the Legal Aid Act today, Feb. 25, will support thousands of Nova Scotians who need help with legal matters and rely on the Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mark Furey introduced amendments which will give the commission more flexibility to better meet the needs of people through a modernized Legal Aid Act.
“Legal aid does vital work, providing representation, advice and information to Nova Scotians,” said Mr. Furey. “These changes support our work to improve access to justice, especially for those who struggle the most and allow Nova Scotians to use legal aid services to the fullest capacity.”
The proposed changes will:
- clarify the many different legal aid services offered, like support for social justice matters that involve the protection of an individual’s income, entitlement to benefits, or ability to earn an income
- support the commission to provide preventative legal services like advice prior to a person’s engagement in a formal proceeding
- reduce the size of the commission’s board of directors to improve efficiency, from 17 to 11 members
- ensure the board membership has knowledge and experience with Indigenous, black and Mi’kmaw communities
- give legal aid greater autonomy over operations to support innovation and efficiency
The Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission is very pleased to see these amendments moving forward to modernize the Legal Aid Act. The updates reflect the innovative ways Nova Scotia Legal Aid currently provides service to Nova Scotians beyond full-service representation and will allow the commission to continue to improve access to justice for marginalized and historically disadvantaged Nova Scotians. George Ash, chair of the Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission
- Nova Scotia Legal Aid was established in 1977 and has a mandate to provide legal representation to vulnerable Nova Scotians with a focus on criminal, family and social justice law
- in 2018-19, Nova Scotia Legal Aid accepted 44,436 applications
- this modernization is the first in-depth update of the Legal Aid Act since it was introduced in 1977