CBA Alberta statement on the expiration of the Legal Aid Alberta governance agreement

  • July 03, 2024

CBA Alberta is concerned about the recent announcement of the expiration of the Legal Aid Alberta governance agreement.

The services delivered by Legal Aid Alberta (LAA) are key to ensuring that the most vulnerable Albertans receive access to justice. The justice system in Alberta is complex and is challenging for litigants, particularly those who are self-represented, to navigate. Should the governance agreement be allowed to expire without a transition plan and funding in place, the impacts would be wide-ranging and devastating, and would ultimately result in the justice system in Alberta being less effective for all who need to access it, not just low-income Albertans.

The expiration of the LAA governance agreement would also impact the staff and roster lawyers whose practices rely on the delivery of services to legal aid clients. There are approximately 1,200 roster lawyers across Alberta, many of whom are small and solo practitioners. With the expiration of the governance agreement the livelihoods of these small business owners and their employees would be adversely affected.

We have long called for adequate, sustainable, and dependable funding for Legal Aid Alberta. Our 2020 study Cost and Saving Modeling for Legal Aid Funding makes the business case that modest increases in funding to LAA would result in a net cost savings to the government, would ultimately allow more Albertans to access legal aid services, and reduce the number of unrepresented litigants in our court system, thereby reducing overall court costs and wait times.

CBA Alberta calls on all parties to return to the table and continue negotiating a new governance agreement in good faith, and to engage stakeholders in the justice sector to support this negotiation. We also call on the Government of Alberta to provide bridge funding for Legal Aid Alberta so it can continue to deliver the services that are so important to the operation of our justice system.

About CBA Alberta
The Canadian Bar Association is the largest professional association for lawyers, representing over 39,000 lawyers, judges, legal academics and law students across Canada, with over 5,400 members in Alberta. As the essential ally and advocate for our members, CBA Alberta promotes fair justice systems, facilitates effective law reform, and upholds equality in the legal profession and beyond.

Media Contact
Lee-Anne Hateley, Manager, Member Services & Communications
P: 403-218-4310