“This is a historic day for access to justice in B.C.,” Legal Aid B.C.’s Michael Bryant said.
B.C.’s attorney general says people fleeing family violence will have greater access to legal aid with a boost of $29.1 million in funding over the next three years.
“When someone is fleeing family violence, they are often experiencing the worst trauma of their lives,” Niki Sharma said. “With these changes, we are taking action to further improve services and better support people leaving dangerous situations.”
The government said a new multidisciplinary, trauma-informed family law clinic model will offer in-person and virtual services to those seeking help.
The services are to be delivered by Legal Aid B.C. (LABC).
LABC CEO Michael Bryant said the funding boost is “the largest expansion of family law legal aid in a generation.”
“This will help a lot of people in legal distress. This is a historic day for access to justice in B.C.,” he said.
Eligible clients will receive legal representation and services necessary to help stabilize their legal situations, the ministry said.
Sharma said the changes resolve a longstanding Centre for Family Equity (CFE) constitutional challenge to the family law legal aid system. The group was previously known as the Single Mothers’ Alliance.
Funded by government and delivered by LABC, the clinic is expected to open before the end of this year.
Until then, new clients who would be eligible for clinic services once in operation can access an additional 25 hours of legal aid services, the ministry said.
LABC will also draw on community engagement and the expertise of other organizations in the sector to develop and implement operations at the clinic.
“Women who cannot afford costly legal representation should never be left at risk when facing intimate partner violence,” CFE director Viveca Ellis said. “This