Increase in financial eligibility guidelines improves access to justice for low income Albertans



    EDMONTON, Aug. 11 /CNW/ - Legal Aid Alberta has increased its financial
eligibility guidelines by 10 per cent to give more Albertans access to
justice. The move - approved by Alberta Justice and Legal Aid Alberta's board
of directors - is expected to reduce the volume of unrepresented litigants in
the justice system by helping a broader range of Albertans who may not have
qualified for services under the previous guidelines.
    The 10 per cent increase took effect on all legal aid applications on or
after August 1, 2007.
    "Alberta's rapidly growing economy and increasingly busy justice system
were both crucial influences in the decision to increase financial eligibility
guidelines," says Jacqueline Schaffter, President and CEO of Legal Aid
Alberta. "Reflecting the rate of economic growth, a number of Albertans are
receiving increased wages and/or salaries. Meanwhile, they continue to surpass
LAA's financial guidelines but are far below the means of hiring a lawyer
privately. These individuals then find themselves trying to navigate the
justice system entirely on their own."
    The Government of Alberta has increased its portion of Legal Aid funding
by 46.3 per cent, or $14.3 million over the past two years. At the same time
the Government of Canada has not increased its funding for legal aid.
    Some members of the judiciary have been expressing concern about delays
caused by the numbers of people trying to represent themselves because they
cannot afford a lawyer.
    "Increased caseloads and case complexity make it more necessary than ever
to see a much greater federal commitment to Legal Aid," said Schaffter. "We
stand behind Alberta's efforts, along with those of the other provinces to
press Ottawa for this increased funding need."
    To view a complete chart of the updated financial guidelines please visit
LAA online at www.legalaid.ab.ca

    About Legal Aid Alberta

    Legal Aid in Alberta was officially established on July 1, 1970 by an
agreement between the Law Society of Alberta and the provincial Attorney
General to deal with both criminal and civil matters. Our mission is to
provide a continuum of innovative and cost effective legal services for people
in need throughout Alberta. For more information about Legal Aid Alberta and
its many services please visit www.legalaid.ab.ca.





For further information:

For further information: Jennifer Fowler, Direct: (780) 427-8742, Cell:
(780) 233-6521, jfowler@legalaid.ab.ca

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LEGAL AID ALBERTA

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