Public Commission on Legal Aid

Public Commission on Legal Aid

March 08, 2011 11:36 ET

Public Commission on Legal Aid in British Columbia Releases Report

Public Commission Report Makes Nine Recommendations for the Future of Legal Aid in British Columbia

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - March 8, 2011) - The Public Commission on Legal Aid (Public Commission) announced today the release of a report containing nine recommendations for the improvement of the legal aid system in British Columbia. The report represents the culmination of a broad public engagement process that included hearings in 11 communities throughout the province and an open call for written submissions.

The Commissioner, Leonard Doust, Q.C. was very pleased with the engagement throughout the Public Commission process. "A wide cross section of people and organizations actively participated in the Commission process by sharing their stories, experiences, and ideas, providing me with both local and province-wide perspectives," says Doust, "These diverse perspectives allowed me to develop a series of nine recommendations that provide a foundation for change for the legal aid system in British Columbia."

At the core of the nine recommendations is a call to recognize legal aid in British Columbia as an essential public service. "It is my belief and the belief of many of those who addressed the Commission that legal aid must be recognized as an essential public service in the same category as healthcare, public education and social assistance," says Doust. "The essential nature of legal aid services is clear when one considers that without adequate legal aid, individuals can be deprived of their rights and in some cases deprived of their access to other essential services."

The eight additional recommendations build on the concept of the essential nature of legal aid services and set out a clear approach to renewing the legal aid system. Addressing the path ahead Doust expresses optimism that the report will be of value to the people of British Columbia. "Through my travels with the Public Commission I was struck by the collective recognition of the vital importance of legal aid and the clear desire of the public, lawyers, community organizations and government to take the steps necessary to improve the delivery of legal aid in our province."

The report has been released to the public and delivered to stakeholders at the municipal, provincial and federal government levels. The full report is available for download on the Public Commission website at www.publiccommission.org.

Further details can be found on the Public Commission website at www.publiccommission.org.

About the Public Commission on Legal Aid

The Public Commission on Legal Aid was established by six funding partners; The Canadian Bar Association British Columbia Branch, The Law Society of British Columbia, The Law Foundation of British Columbia, The British Columbia Crown Counsel Association, The Vancouver Bar Association and The Victoria Bar Association. Led by Commissioner Leonard Doust Q.C., the purpose of the Public Commission was to engage British Columbians and determine their priorities in regard to the future of legal aid. From September through October 2010, the Public Commission convened meetings across British Columbia and heard submissions from interested parties, including residents, community organization representatives, and justice system stakeholders.

The Public Commission released a report of its findings entitled "Foundation for Change: The Report of the Public Commission on Legal Aid in British Columbia" on March 8, 2011. Further information including a downloadable copy of the report can be found on the Public Commission website at www.publiccommission.org

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