BC legal aid enhances services

VANCOUVER, Sept. 8, 2011 /CNW/ - The Legal Services Society (LSS), BC's legal aid provider, is enhancing its services for British Columbians.

Effective September 1, more people with low incomes in BC may qualify for legal aid. LSS is improving its financial eligibility guidelines for legal representation and advice services with a 2.4% cost of living increase. This will ensure people do not lose access to legal aid because of inflation.

LSS's financial eligibility guidelines are based on Human Resources Development Canada's "Market Basket Measure" of goods and services adjusted by LSS for inflation and are among the most generous in the country. By way of comparison, BC's guideline for a one-person household is a monthly net income of $1,450 while Alberta's guideline for a one-person household is $1,348 net income and Ontario's is $900 gross income. Alberta and Ontario, however, may provide services to clients with higher incomes if they make financial contributions.

The Legal Services Society is also providing funding to 24 social service organizations that will offer free legal information in their communities. Under this new initiative, LSS will provide funding for these organizations to work with remote, rural and Aboriginal communities where there are often barriers to accessing legal services. These community groups will help people with low incomes access information about a broad range of legal issues from child protection and custody to wills, trusts and estates.

These new community partners will enhance the existing services of LSS's 31 local agents who take legal aid applications and provide legal information at more than 50 locations, including private law offices, community agencies and courthouses, across the province.

The Legal Services Society is an independent organization established by provincial legislation in 1979 to provide legal information, advice and representation to people with low incomes. It is funded by the provincial government with additional support from the Law Foundation of BC and the Notary Foundation of BC.

Backgrounder

Financial eligibility: More information on the new financial eligibility guidelines can be found here.

Community partner locations:

100 Mile House & District Women's Centre Society
Abbotsford Community Services - Anti-Poverty, Advocacy and Addiction Services
Abbotsford Community Services - Mulitcultural and Immigrant Integration Services
Advocacy Centre, Merrit
Atira Women's Resource Society, Vancouver
Boston Bar First Nation
Canim Lake Band, 100 Mile House
Elizabeth Fry Society, Burns Lake
Haida Gwaii Legal Project Society, Massett
Lower Similkameen Community Services Society, Keremeos
Michael Reed Law Corporation, Vanderhoof
Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Community Services
Nelson CARES (The Advocacy Centre), Nelson
Nicola Valley Community Justice Services
North Shore Community Resources Society, North Vancouver
Penticton & Area Women's Centre
Powell River Employment Program Society/Community Resource Centre
Prince George Urban Aboriginal Justice Society
Seabird Island Indian Band, Agassiz
Sunshine Coast Community Resource Centre & Community Services Society, Sechelt
SHED Society, Bella Coola
SUCCESS, Fort St. John
Trail Family and Individual Resource Centre Society
Upper Skeena Counseling and Legal Assistance Society, Hazelton
Vernon Women's Transition House Society

Local agent locations:

For more information on LSS local agents, click here.

SOURCE Legal Services Society

For further information:

Media inquiries:
Brad Daisley
Manager, Communications
(604) 601-6004
Brad.Daisley@lss.bc.ca


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