04 Mar, 2024
1 min read

Alberta lawyers agree to end legal aid job actions

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Alberta criminal lawyers have voted to end job action in which they were refusing to take on legal aid certificates, following the province’s decision Wednesday to increase their hourly compensation by 25 per cent.

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In a news release Thursday, the Criminal Defense Lawyers Association in Calgary, the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association out of Edmonton, the Red Deer Criminal Lawyers Association and Lethbridge’s Southern Alberta Defense Lawyers Association jointly announced they were pausing their five-month-long job action in light of the increase.

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Justice Minister Tyler Shandro announced Wednesday the hourly rate for lawyers would be increased from $100 to $125 effective Jan. 1.

The increase follows a bump in October from $92.40 per hour made possible by increased federal funding.

The total increase in amounts to a more than 35 per cent increase in the hourly rate.

“We would like to thank Minister Shandro for sitting down with our

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Legal Aid Alberta requires more funding, say defense lawyer associations

‘These short-term consequences carry long-term implications and will inevitably lead to a roster of lawyers with limited experience in criminal law’

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Several Alberta lawyer associations are calling on the provincial government to provide more funding to Legal Aid in the province.

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The Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association in Calgary, the Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Association in Edmonton and the Southern Alberta Defense Lawyers’ Association released a joint statement Saturday saying the government has underfunded Legal Aid in recent years. The groups say that funding has not been kept in line with inflation leading to defense lawyers struggling to make a living.

“Like Legal Aid roster lawyers, Crown attorneys had not seen a pay increase for seven years. During that same time period, the Bank of Canada has reported an inflation rate of 19.7 per cent. Many defense lawyers haven’t been able to make a living, leading some to change sides and opt for the stable salary and benefits provided by Crown attorney positions,” reads the statement. “Like the Crown Attorneys’ Association, our members are only asking for fair compensation. Our pay must be brought in line with a roster of lawyers in other provinces. At present, it is nearly 40 per cent less.”

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Crown attorneys in Alberta raised concerns earlier this year over their pay, leading to negotiations being opened with the province.

The defense lawyer associations said in their statement the “most minimal provisions” of legal aid in Alberta is at a breaking point. They said underfunding lawyers on the

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Alberta legal aid lawyers threaten job action over ‘perpetual funding neglect’

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Alberta lawyers who represent low income clients are threatening to walk off the job over what they call “perpetual funding neglect” of Legal Aid Alberta.

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On Saturday, three organizations representing criminal defense lawyers across Alberta issued an ultimatum to Justice Minister Tyler Shandro, months after Crown prosecutors made similar demands for additional funding

“The most minimal provision of legal aid services in Alberta is at a breaking point,” states the news release. “While we are prepared to collaborate with other stakeholders to solve this crisis, our cooperation is contingent upon a meaningful commitment by the government to adequate fund Legal Aid Alberta now.

“To ensure the government understands the immediacy of this crisis and the importance of this funding, our organizations are taking steps towards job action.”

The release is signed by the Edmonton-based Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Association (CTLA), Calgary’s Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association and the Southern Alberta Defense Lawyers’ Association.

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Unlike the public defender system in the United States, defense lawyers in Alberta are not employed directly by the government. Rather, they are paid to represent low-income clients through Legal Aid Alberta, an arm’s length organization that receives funding from the federal and provincial governments, as well as from interest earned on their trust accounts.

In July, the

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