THE Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch (CBABC), on Tuesday welcomed the report released by David Eby, Attorney General, entitled ROADS TO REVIVAL – An External Review of Legal Aid Service Delivery in British Columbia.
“We are pleased to welcome the report’s recommendations for meaningful change to legal aid in British Columbia,” said CBABC President Margaret A. Mereigh. “Recommendation 1 endorses the Canadian Bar Association’s proposal for national benchmarks, set in 2016, for integrated public legal assistance services that are sustainably funded, evidence-based and people-centred.”
Mereigh said: “Legal assistance service providers will need to collaborate with other providers to ensure a whole process – from outreach to after-care – is a success. They must work together to provide services that are fully accessible, timely, high quality, culturally appropriate and cost-effective.”
Collaboration and integration in the delivery of legal aid services will support meaningful participation of clients and the lawyers assisting them, and it will achieve fair and equitable outcomes. Recommendation 25 in the report is for government to collaborate with CBABC and other justice system stakeholders to promote legal aid practice and reduce justice system costs and delay.
“We are ready for continued engagement with government, the Legal Services Society and all its funders,” said Mereigh. “Our call for a system that cares about the user experience and includes tools to measure what works or what doesn’t is reflected in this report. We hope the government now chooses to fund the recommended reforms.”
The report was prepared by practising lawyer Jamie Maclaren at the request of Eby. It is the result of a comprehensive review, from a user’s perspective, of legal aid service delivery models in BC with a view to optimizing access to justice.