The BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) stands in support of the Association of Legal Aid Lawyers (ALL) and their strike vote.
Vancouver (19 March 2019)—"BC's legal aid lawyers help some of our province's most vulnerable people get access to justice, and as they demand the funding they need to serve British Columbians, the BCGEU stands in support of their strike vote," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.
Result of decades of underfunding
The BCGEU represents professional, technical, and support staff at the Legal Services Society (LSS) which has faced decades of underfunding. In a submission to government in 2018, the BCGEU called for improved delivery of legal aid through a primarily public model, and recommended a shift away from the present reliance on private bar referrals and the limited availability of publicly-funded community legal aid resources. Expanding LSS office locations and increasing staff at existing facilities would be an essential (and basic) condition for improvement within current system.
Despite positive steps a significant gap remains in funding
The BC government recently outlined positive steps to restore capacity to legal aid in Budget 2019. This included improving access to justice for Indigenous people and finding mechanisms to support attraction and retention of legal aid lawyers to sustain delivery of legal aid services.
However, the strike vote by ALL demonstrates that a significant gap remains in addressing decades of cuts and underfunding by the previous government.
The BCGEU is one of the largest unions in BC with over 78,000 members in almost every community and economic sector in the province, and represents 149 members at Legal Services Society.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE