Gateway Gazette

Premier pledges improved access to legal aid, helping more low income Albertans

Going forward, Legal Aid Alberta will have the resources to ensure more low income Albertans can access justice by being eligible for legal representation.

“We must ensure that Legal Aid Services are available to those who most need them. Our system must be responsive to current demands on this program, most importantly by ensuring low income Albertans, including AISH recipients, have access to the services they need.”

~ Jim Prentice, Premier

Legal Aid Alberta has confirmed the increase will help those receiving Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH), to ensure they will not be denied representation solely on the basis of income.

“Legal aid is a joint federal-provincial responsibility. At the recent meetings with my Justice counterparts, the issue of funding levels was not resolved. With these additional funds, Alberta is improving access to our justice system. I will continue to advocate for the federal government’s contributions to fully reflect its partnership position.”

~ Jonathan Denis, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

The provincial government plays a pivotal role in ensuring access to justice for all Albertans, which is why addressing legal aid funding was specifically included in Premier Prentice’s mandate letter to Minister Denis.

“This is a positive first step and we commend the Premier and the Minister for taking action. We need to continue the discussion to address the crisis beyond the current year and to establish a long-term strategy for a sustainable and adequately funded legal program.”

~ Kevin Feth, QC, President, Law Society of Alberta

“We are grateful to the Premier and the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General for this further support of our mission to seek a just Alberta for all citizens, particularly our most vulnerable, and we look forward to building on this positive step to achieve a long-term, sustainable funding strategy for Legal Aid.”

~ Derek A. Cranna, Chair of the Board, Legal Aid Alberta

The additional $5.5 million in new funding can increase the income level for qualifying for legal aid assistance, which raises the bar to ensure a broad base of Albertans – including current AISH recipients – will be eligible for program funding.

This new funding for Legal Aid Alberta is on top of the funding it is already receiving from the province this fiscal year.

Quick facts

  • Under current Legal Aid Alberta guidelines, the maximum monthly income for full representation is $1,348 for a single individual and slightly higher for multi-person households. This new funding can increase the income level for qualifying by 18 per cent to $1,588, which means all AISH recipients will be eligible for legal aid assistance.
  • Of the $58.8 million in the 2014-15 budget for provincial and federal government funding for Legal Aid Alberta, Alberta again provided the most support, at $47.9 million, while the federal government provided $10.9 million.
  • Since 2005, Alberta has more than doubled its funding for legal aid. Federal government funding has remained flat.

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