by Jeffrey Klassen
October 5, 2022

Alberta Defence Lawyers Associations issue Press Release in response to Government of Alberta announcement re Legal Aid

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

Email: [email protected]                      Email: [email protected]

Phone: (403) 560-2123                                   Phone: (780) 298-5824

 

Greg White                                                  Jason Snider

President, SADL                                        President, RDCDLA

Email: [email protected]               Email: [email protected]

Phone: (403) 795-6103                                Phone: (403) 304-4859

 

Joint Press Release of the CDLA, CTLA, SADL & RDCDLA – October 5, 2022

Page 1 of 1

by Jeffrey Klassen

Government of Alberta Announces increase to tariff and financial eligibility guidelines.

The Government of Alberta announced an 8.225% increase to the Legal Aid hourly tariff, block billing tariff and financial eligibility guidelines (for the balance of the fiscal year “until permanent changes can be determined”).

https://www.alberta.ca/release.cfm?xID=84807A16AB0B8-E382-2CCF-A3D624BBA30E9A45

 

by Jeffrey Klassen
September 22, 2022

Justice Minister Chooses Chaos for Alberta’s Courts

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION

September 22, 2022

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” ):

Justice Minister Chooses Chaos for Alberta’s Courts

On September 21, 2022, Alberta’s four criminal lawyer associations in response to government inaction passed motions with the overwhelming support of their members to stop accepting all new work from Legal Aid Alberta effective September 26, 2022. The criminal justice system cannot function and access to justice in Alberta cannot occur without our participation, as all stakeholders already recognize.

Unfortunately, Justice Minister Tyler Shandro has decided to ignore the fact that Alberta’s courts cannot properly function when his government cuts off help for our most vulnerable citizens and refuses to offer fair compensation to skilled professionals for their services.

Millions of Albertans who are teachers, care providers, nurses, doctors, police officers, firefighters, Crown Prosecutors, judges and other professionals, or know someone who works in that capacity, understand this situation is the predictable result of a shameful pattern of neglect by this government.

Despite claims of Legal Aid Alberta ‘being ok’, the reality is current economic changes have created a situation where Alberta’s legal aid system can no longer meet the needs of justice without immediate changes. Only the Minister of Justice can authorize the necessary changes. We are just the latest professional workers being targeted in Alberta. All of it unnecessary.

Our members are small business owners who employ many Albertans and support a vital segment of our economy. We are trained to deliver a service that the Canadian Constitution requires government to fund. We have worked hard like other such Albertans to gain the experience necessary to provide superior services to our clients. As your representative, Minister Shandro could choose stability, sustainability, and a fair system. Instead, he chooses chaos. Sadly, it is a choice that will cost Albertans far more in the end.

The associations will publicly announce this decision at events held outside the Calgary Courts Centre, the Edmonton Law Courts and the Red Deer Court House on Friday, September 23rd, 2022, beginning at 9:00 a.m. This will include remarks delivered by members of the province-wide committee coordinating this job action.

When Minister Shandro is interested in speaking to us in good faith to allow the justice system to get back to serving taxpayers effectively and efficiently, we are available. Until then, Legal Aid Alberta has lost overnight a large, diverse and irreplaceable workforce. We will no longer silently support this government’s dysfunctional idea of justice.

For more information, please contact:

Ian Savage
President, CDLA
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (403) 560-2123

Danielle Boisvert
President, CTLA
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (780) 298-5824

Greg White
President, SADL
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (403) 795-6103

Jason Snider
President, RDCDLA
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (403) 304-4859