JOINT PRESS RELEASE – OCTOBER 5, 2022 FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION
Sent on behalf of the Criminal Defence Lawyers Association (Calgary) (“CDLA “), the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association (Edmonton) (“CTLA “), the Southern Alberta Defence Lawyers’ Association (“SADL”), and the Red Deer Criminal Lawyers Association (“RDCDLA” ):
Response to “Modernizing Legal Aid” Press Release Issued by Government of Alberta
Late this afternoon, the Government of Alberta announced an 8.225% increase to the financial eligibility guidelines that determine which Albertans qualify for Legal Aid services, as well as an 8.225% increase to the tariff rates paid to private bar lawyers. The associated costs will be paid for with money provided by the federal government.
This is the first increase to the hourly rate paid to roster lawyers in Alberta since 2015 (when it was set at $92.40/hr). Effective tomorrow, the rate for all roster lawyers in Alberta will be $100/hr, regardless of their level of experience. As a frame of reference, under the two most comparable provincial legal aid plans:
- roster lawyers in British Columbia earn between $113.39-$124.73/hr, depending on their years of experience;
- roster lawyers in Ontario are currently paid between $109.14-$136.43/hr, depending on how much experience they have practicing criminal law.
Like Alberta, Ontario’s tariff rates were set in 2015. There are rumblings their roster lawyers may also take job action soon.
While the 8.225% increase announced by the Alberta Government today marks a modicum of progress, adjustments for inflation alone would require an increase of nearly 20%. For low-income Albertans requiring legal aid assistance, an 8.225% increase barely restores the financial eligibility cut-offs to what they were in 2010 (when they were unceremoniously slashed by 30%). As of tomorrow, if a family of four has a household income of more than $41,270.52, they will be told they make enough money to pay privately for a lawyer. Meanwhile, for a family of four to achieve a basic standard of living in Calgary or Edmonton, they need to make more than $80,000/yr.
In August, defence lawyers from across Alberta began job action to highlight the government’s perpetual neglect of access to justice in this province. Next week, we expect that our members will vote on whether 8.225% is enough to get us back to work.
For more information, please contact:
Ian Savage Danielle Boisvert
President, CDLA President, CTLA
Phone: (403) 560-2123 Phone: (780) 298-5824
Greg White Jason Snider
President, SADL President, RDCDLA
Phone: (403) 795-6103 Phone: (403) 304-4859
Joint Press Release of the CDLA, CTLA, SADL & RDCDLA – October 5, 2022
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