BC Legal Aid Funding and Courthouse Closures

  • February 16, 2002

WHEREAS the Canadian Bar Association advocates legal aid as a public service essential for true access to justice;

WHEREAS the CBA advocates uniform national standards to achieve access to justice with an acceptable level of legal aid services across Canada;

WHEREAS in 1992, the British Columbia government introduced a tax on legal services, the only professional service to be so taxed, stating that all funds raised through that tax would be dedicated to legal aid;

WHEREAS the B.C. government has not kept this commitment, allocating the approximately $80 million generated each year by the legal services tax to general revenues and not to legal aid;

WHEREAS the B.C. government receives an annual transfer payment for legal aid from the federal government;

WHEREAS the B.C. government recently announced a 40% cut to legal aid over the next three years, reducing the amount spent from $88 million to $54 million by 2004-2005;

WHEREAS, at the same time, the B.C. government announced its plan to close 24 courthouses, many in northern and interior communities;

WHEREAS these plans will result in dramatically decreased services and will limit access to justice, especially for women and children in family law matters, for low income earners who require assistance with poverty law disputes, such as those pertaining to income support and housing, which usually involve the provincial government and for immigrants;


  • the CBA urge the B.C. government to immediately reverse its decision to reduce legal aid funding and commit to a properly funded legal aid plan, financed in part by the legal services tax and the federal transfer payments;
  • the CBA urge the B.C. government to review its decision to close 24 courthouses, to ensure equal access to justice for all; and
  • the CBA urge the B.C. Attorney General to conduct, in consultation with the CBA-British Columbia Branch and other stakeholders, a comprehensive review of the justice system with a view to maintaining courthouses in local communities and determining where savings might be made that could additionally fund legal aid.

Certified true copy of a resolution carried as amended by the Council of the Canadian Bar Association at the Mid-Winter Meeting held in Moncton, NB, February 16-17, 2002.

John D.V. Hoyles

Executive Director

BC Legal Aid Funding and Courthouse Closures: Resolution 02-10-M