Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Why Don't They Want the People of BC to Have Justice?

Open letter presented to Attorney General: Cuts in legal aid in BC will have a devastating impact on women
On Tuesday, February 24, Kasari Govender, Legal Director of the West Coast Legal Education and Action Fund (West Coast LEAF), met with Attorney General Wally Oppal to present the first 1000 signatures supporting an open letter protesting cuts to legal aid in B.C.
Pivot Legal Society and West Coast LEAF began collecting signatures to illuminate the concern about the recent continuation of cuts to legal aid in B.C. that will have a devastating impact on women, particularly those living in poverty, women of colour, Aboriginal women, and other marginalized women.

"Women must have fair and equal access to the justice system," says Govender. "It is time to restore services and to develop a comprehensive strategy for building a legal aid system which ensures that women have equal access to the justice system in British Columbia."

The most recent erosion of legal services in B.C. includes:

- The closing of the family law clinic
- Stricter screening processes and eligibility requirements for clients
- Cuts to the tariffs for family, immigration and criminal law
- Reductions in services for people who cannot access legal representation through the Legal Services Society (LSS), including cuts to the staffing of the LawLINE, and
- Reductions in staff lawyers
LSS staff lawyers currently take cases that private lawyers simply cannot take on and most often these are cases that involve complicating factors, such as, insecure immigration status, litigation harassment by an ex partner, a history of domestic violence and/or mental illness.
While Govender has presented the first 1000 signatures today, West Coast LEAF has an eventual goal of 5000 supporting signatures.

To join the organizations and individuals expressing concern about the recent legal aid cuts through our Access to Justice petition, please go
Tell the Honourable Mr. Wally Oppal what you think by contacting him:

E-mail: wally.oppal.mla@leg.bc.ca
Web site: www.wallyoppalmla.bc.ca

Victoria Phone: 250 387-1866
Vancouver Phone: 604 775-2246

3158 East 54th Ave.
Vancouver, BC
V5S 1Z1

Find other MLA's and let them know what you're thinkin' about as we head
into the election.

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