Town hall forum and documentary film expose justice system flaws



    VANCOUVER, April 23 /CNW/ - On Monday, the umbrella organization Access
to Justice is hosting a town hall forum in response to recent cuts made to
legal aid services in British Columbia.
    In January of this year, the Legal Services Society announced major
reductions in staffing and services effective April 30, despite increasing
demand. The cuts will have a devastating impact on B.C.'s most vulnerable
citizens and contribute to increased backlogs in the court system. Responses
from stakeholders in the justice system spawned the creation of the Access to
Justice campaign group.
    Monday night's event, Renewing Our Commitment to Legal Aid, is an open
discussion between justice stakeholders and the general public, focusing on
creating an ideal legal system. "We're going to bring attention to the effects
of the complete downturn in legal aid services in British Columbia over the
last decade" explains Jim Russell, First Vice President of the Professional
Employees Association, one of the ten organizations sponsoring the forum.
"When next week's cuts happen, those most vulnerable in our society will lose
services that they rely on for many different reasons. The loss of the family
clinic in Vancouver is of special concern."
    The discussion is being moderated by CBC's Mark Forsythe. Featured
speakers include Shelagh Day, Melina Buckley, Shashi Assanand, and Stephen
Owen.
    The event will also include the premiere of the short documentary film
Justice For All? The film is a look into the consequences that the recent cuts
to legal aid have had on those in need of these invaluable services. "The film
tells real stories from real clients and exposes the flaws of our justice
system" says Kyle Russell, the film's producer. "The insight provided by these
individuals shows the immediacy of a need to address these issues."
    The event starts at 7:00PM in the Alice Mackay room at the main branch of
the Vancouver Public Library at 350 West Georgia and is open to anyone who
wishes to attend. More information about the campaign and issues can be found
at http://www.accesstojustice.ca





For further information:

For further information: Barinder Rasode, Labour Relations Officer,
Professional Employees Association, (604) 581-6662 (office), (604) 880-1588
(cell)

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