What Albertans need to know about accessing legal aid.
EDMONTON – Yesterday, Legal Aid Alberta learned through media reports that criminal defence lawyers participating in job action are planning to escalate withdrawal of legal aid services starting on September 1 and will begin refusing certain types of criminal cases.
Job action by private practice defence lawyers in Alberta started on August 8 with some lawyers withdrawing from duty counsel in provincial courts to make their case to the government for an increase to the hourly rate they are paid.
So far, LAA has been able to fill the gaps by providing duty counsel services in person or virtually across the province with little or no disruption. However, if job action escalates as planned, we can reasonably anticipate a significant impact on the justice system and disadvantaged Albertans.
Potential impact to legal aid services after Sept. 1
Uninterrupted legal aid services
Legal aid services in Alberta are provided by a mix of staff lawyers who are employed by Legal Aid Alberta and roster lawyers, private sector lawyers who do legal aid work in addition to their private practice law. Criminal defence lawyers who are participating in job action are not employees of LAA and do not represent all private sector roster lawyers who do legal aid work.
Legal Aid Alberta staff lawyers are continuing to serve Albertans across the province – representing people at bail hearings, running trials, providing free duty counsel advice in provincial courts, and helping Albertans facing violence get emergency protection orders (EPOs) to keep them safe.
Roster lawyers are integral to Legal Aid Alberta. Right now we are focused on continuing to serve Albertans and to minimize service disruptions as best we can with limited resources. We know this is a concerning time for our employees, clients and Albertans. We are actively planning to prioritize those who are in the most disadvantaged situations. Demand for legal help never stops and we are taking it one day at a time.
New applicants and clients
Partners and media
Legal Aid Alberta Fast Facts