Defense lawyers have issued a scathing ruling on increased federal funding for legal aid providers and consumer access.
Although the increase in the salary of legal aid lawyers and those who join the service is better, it is not enough and lags behind other governments, four groups of lawyers said in a statement together.
“Although the increase of 8.225 percent announced by the government of Alberta (Rednesday) indicates some progress, the adjustments for inflation alone would require an increase of almost 20 percent,” says the alliance that spans the state.
“For the minority of Albertans in need of legal aid, an 8.225 per cent increase brings the percentage of financial aid back to what it was in 2010 (when they were reduced by 30 per cent ).”
According to the UCP government, the budget increases are temporary for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023, until a permanent decision is made, and are due to the introduction of federal funds.
The change raised legal aid attorneys’ wages from $92.40 to $100 an hour effective Thursday, while their BC counterparts make $113.39 to $124.73 an hour depending on experience, they say.
Ontario legal aid counsel are paid $109.14 to $136.43, and “they’re on the verge of doing that,” said Ian Savage, president of the Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.
“The real reaction from lawyers across (Alberta) is a slap in the face.”
At the same time, the highest financial cost for a family of four with a household income of more than $41,270.52 must be paid for legal services, while living standards in Edmonton and Calgary will exceed the $80,000. , defense counsel said.
Asylum lawyers began a strike in August to force the government to fill legal aid funds, and earlier last week refused to accept new clients.
Lawyers said a vote could be held next week to decide whether the state’s offer is enough to end the withdrawal of services, but Savage said he doubts that will happen at this stage. opposition from his colleagues.
“Can you hire a skilled person to do something for $100 an hour these days? People with six to eight years of university training and 10 to 20 years of experience?” he said, adding that lawyers are looking for at least 40 percent more.
He said the lawyers’ activism – backed by a coalition of 400 members – was trying to undermine the legal aid system.
The government said the funding increase would put Alberta sixth in the province in the hourly wage rate for barristers.
It will move quickly to increase the resources available for the legal aid system, a measure currently under review, according to Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro.
“With the reform program on track to be completed this month and the increase in funding available from the federal government, there is now an opportunity to increase legal aid funding earlier than time was considered,” Shandro said Wednesday.
“This year-over-year increase is a first step, and we look forward to the results of the renewal program and the results of the comprehensive review.
In recent weeks, Shandro said, the increase in funding now will jeopardize the ongoing review of legal aid to be completed next year.
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The budget increase is barely a Band-Aid measure that shows the UCP government has done Albertans wrong, says NDP justice advocate Irfan Sabir.
“Tyler Shandro has spent the last few months saying the mid-year rate change is not possible. Today’s announcement shows that the minister is misleading Albertans and legal aid advocates. always,” he said.
“This announcement is a countermeasure made in the last hours of the Prime Minister (Jason) Kenney’s administration that falls short of what legal aid lawyers are asking for. I urge the next prime minister to choose in good faith to pay the debts to legal aid under the agreement (NDP’s) 2018, and to keep updating the rates and guidelines enter as in other large states.