Access to justice demands not only that we consistently and adequately support legal aid, but that we do not deny a fair trial to vulnerable Albertans by failing those who cannot afford a lawyer but make too much money to qualify for legal representation under programs like Legal Aid Alberta.
Legal Aid Alberta does provide legal representation to the very needy, but underfunding means they are not able to help Alberta’s working poor—those people who are just getting by and have a hard time paying their rent, let alone paying for a lawyer.
Our court system is the envy of the world, but, by design, it only works when both sides have adequate legal representation. Putting someone into prison who doesn’t belong there means taxpayers must pay for that person to be in jail (which costs about $115,000 per year for a federal prison), to say nothing of the damage that it causes to the family of the accused.1
Almost half of Canadians over 18 will experience at least one civil or family justice problem over any given three-year period.2 Although Canada has one of the best legal systems in the world, many people cannot afford to use it.
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