Improved legal help for families at heart of new legal aid projects
VICTORIA – Two new legal aid projects announced today at Victoria’s Justice Access Centre (JAC) are focused on providing B.C. families with the services they need to help them with their family law issues.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Suzanne Anton, and Tom Christensen, chair of the board for the Legal Services Society (LSS) announced the appointment of a new full-time family duty counsel at the Victoria JAC and a second project that will increase the services available through the Family LawLINE.
The new lead family duty counsel will provide people with early legal advice, in addition to supporting a variety of other services at the JAC. Clients will be able to book appointments in advance and have access to the same lawyer for a repeat visit, if necessary.
The Family LawLINE provides eligible British Columbians with legal advice and information over the telephone to better serve people in remote areas of the province who may be unable to access existing in-person services. This pilot project expands the available services up to six hours with the same lawyer for a single legal issue, where previously, people received three hours in total, with no continuity of service from the same lawyer.
These pilot projects will complement existing services that provide clients with meaningful, consistent and timely legal advice. B.C. families will be better supported to resolve their disputes early and often out of court, saving them time and money.
The projects announced today are two of a total of five justice transformation projects Government is funding through a targeted $6 million investment over the next three years. They were developed collaboratively between the Ministry of Justice and the LSS and are consistent with recommendations made in its report, Making Justice Work, the Cowper report and commitments made in the White Paper on Justice Reform: Part 2.
Justice Access Centres serve as a one-stop centre for people seeking help with family and civil problems such as separation and divorce, housing, income assistance and employment disputes.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Suzanne Anton –
“Our government recognizes the importance of supporting legal aid and is committed to innovative solutions that help families get the legal services they need. The new full time family duty counsel in Victoria and province-wide expansion of the Family LawLINE will provide British Columbians with increased access to legal advice and information. We believe that by providing families with consistent and timely legal advice and services, they will be better supported to resolve their disputes earlier and often outside of a courtroom.”
Tom Christensen, chair, Legal Services Society of B.C. –
“The new lead family duty counsel at Victoria’s JAC and the expanded Family LawLINE will improve British Columbians’ access to the legal advice and the information they need to resolve their family law disputes. LSS looks forward to working with the Ministry of Justice to assess the impact of these enhanced services on assisting low-income families dealing with family law problems as we work to improve outcomes for those families.”
- In total, government is providing the Legal Services Society with $74.5 million in 2014/15.
- This includes a $2 million annual increase over three years to fund the expansion of legal aid services in family and criminal law.
- The Legal Services Society is an independent organization that operates and administers the legal aid program in B.C.
- Individuals can apply for a legal aid lawyer in-person at a legal aid office, or over the phone.
- Anyone with a family legal problem or question can call the Family LawLINE toll-free at 1 866 577-2525.
Learn more: news.gov.bc.ca