Kamloops lawyers withdraw services in opposition to legal aid cuts

VANCOUVER, Jan. 11 /CNW/ - Members of the Kamloops bar will withdraw all duty counsel services effective this morning in protest of the closure of five regional legal aid offices.

The Kamloops bar made the decision to voice their opposition to massive reductions in services offered by the Legal Services Society of BC (LSS). In November, LSS announced their plans to shut down the LawLINE, the Community Advocate Support Line, and regional legal aid offices in Kamloops, Kelowna, Prince George, Surrey, and Victoria as of March 31st, 2010. These service cuts mean that the public's ability to access legal aid for a wide variety of criminal, immigration, family, and other civil legal services will be reduced or eliminated. This round of cuts is the second to devastate legal aid in British Columbia within the last year.

"The crisis in legal aid means that many citizens of the province will have a rude awakening when they find themselves with no help with their legal problems" says Alison Brewin of West Coast LEAF, one of the organizations belonging to The Coalition for Public Legal Services, an umbrella group of concerned legal service providers and community agencies. "The coalition fully supports the decision of the Kamloops bar and we hope it provides the LSS and the BC government with the wake-up call they need. The roll back in legal services for BC's vulnerable communities has to end."

The Coalition is calling on the provincial government to immediately review the structure, management, mandate, and funding of legal aid in BC through a series of public consultations.

The Coalition for Public Legal Services includes several groups. For a complete list of member organizations, a history of legal aid cuts, video testimonials from legal aid clients and advocates, and other information about the legal aid crisis in BC, visit www.accesstojustice.ca.

SOURCE Professional Employees Association

For further information: For further information: Kevin Love, Community Legal Assistance Society, (604) 685-3425

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