Spotlight on Election 2019 - #LegalAidMatters

  • June 11, 2019

With the federal election coming around the corner, the CBA will be working hard to put one of its key policy issues on the political radar.

Access to justice is one of the Board’s over-arching advocacy priorities this year, but #A2J means a lot of things to a lot of people. The CBA has focused on one aspect, legal aid, and has laid the groundwork for a campaign that will harness the expertise of its members – and the strength of their numbers – to make stable, sustainable legal aid funding an issue for the parties and their candidates.

Our core message is that too many Canadians do not have access to justice because there is not enough money in the system. Thousands of people who don’t have the means to afford professional counsel also find themselves excluded from legal aid. This results in self-representation, overcrowded court rooms, and people reverting to Google LLP for legal advice. (For the record, Google LLP, like Dr. Google, is notoriously unreliable.)

The money the federal government has put back into legal aid since 2016 has not been enough to replace what had been cut in the two prior decades, and in most parts of the country the increases apply to criminal matters, not civil. Legal aid eligibility and available services vary widely from province to province.

We’re kicking off our 2019 #LegalAidMatters campaign with a letter to the leaders of the five major parties signed by CBA President Ray Adlington and all of the Branch presidents, which challenges them to make access to justice, and stable legal aid funding, part of their campaigns. It also asks the leaders to meet with CBA executive to discuss the issue.

We’ve put together an election toolkit for members to help you get the message across. Available on, it contains:

  •  Access to a letter-writing tool that will help you find candidates and their addresses, and provide customizable templates for letters asking pertinent questions about the candidate’s and party’s stand on legal aid funding; 
  • Sample tweets and social media posts to be shared;
  • Questions to ask candidates at local town halls and other political events, as well as fact sheets to provide context and material for follow-up questions.

We’re also enlisting the help of CBA leaders and social media influencers to keep the conversation alive on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms by posting – and sharing when others post – items relevant to legal aid.

Since nothing gets politicians’ attention like grassroots support, we’re also creating a public-facing campaign. It consists of a series of composite characters – the people in your neighbourhood, like the barista where you get your morning coffee, the receptionist at your doctor’s office, the guy who delivers your parcels – whose lives are being disrupted by unaddressed legal issues, but who aren’t eligible for legal assistance. We’ll tell their stories via social media over the course of the summer and after the writ is dropped to bring home the message that legal aid funding is everybody’s business.

We’re excited by the possibilities this campaign holds, and encourage all our members to pick up our tools and use them to build a public – and political – awareness of this important access-to-justice issue.


CBA election page

Proposed National Benchmarks for Public Legal Assistance Services

Reaching Equal Justice Final Report