Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Association
March 20, 2007
Re: Funding Increase To Legal Aid Alberta
The Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Association (CTLA) welcomes the Government of Alberta’s recent budget announcement increasing funding for our province’s Legal Aid system. Together with enhanced funding for Crown Prosecution and Court services, this additional funding will provide some level of short term stabilization for our criminal justice system at a time when it is confronting serious problems; trial delay, timely and affordable access to independent legal assistance, and the erosion of due process protections are just some of these challenges.
The CTLA recently supported a two year extension of the Legal Aid governance agreement between the Government of Alberta, Legal Aid Alberta and the Law Society of Alberta. This support was contingent upon a clear understanding by these parties that the CTLA and other key stakeholders will have a direct and meaningful role in upcoming discussions to develop a long term solution for Legal Aid’s fundamentally flawed governance and funding structure.
The CTLA remains committed to achieving a new vision that recognizes Legal Aid as an essential social service; a vision which provides for a predictable funding model responsive to actual societal need, an improved governance structure that provides for periodic and appropriate adjustments to financial eligibility and lawyer compensation, and a formal recognition of the essential role that private lawyers must play in the delivery of independent legal services to disadvantaged Albertans. Minister of Justice Ganley’s willingness to recognize the importance of organizations such as the CTLA in crafting a long term realistic solution for both Legal Aid and criminal justice in Alberta is a welcome and constructive step in this important process.
For Further Comment Please Contact:
President, Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Association