'A devastating impact on women, particularly those living in poverty, women of colour, Aboriginal women, and other marginalized women.' - HSABC
The union is urging members and the public to sign a pettion by West Coast LEAF and the Pivot Legal Society protesting recent cuts and demanding that the province reverse its course.
"The recent continuation of cuts to legal aid in B.C. will have a devastating impact on women, particularly those living in poverty, women of colour, Aboriginal women, and other marginalized women," HSABC says.
"These cuts are taking place at a time when Canada is already being criticized for its failure to meet its international obligation to ensure that women have equal access to the justice system."
The petition says the erosion of legal aid services in the province includes:
- Cuts to the tariffs for family, immigration and criminal law.
- Stricter screening processes and eligibility requirements for clients.
- Closing of the family law clinic.
- Reductions in staff lawyers.
- Reductions in services for people who cannot access legal representation through the Legal Services Society (LSS), including cuts to the staffing of the LawLINE and family and other duty counsel.
An Ipsos Reid survey commissioned by LSS found that 97% of British Columbians agree that everyone should have access to the justice system while 78% agree that government should give the same priority to funding legal aid as to other social services such as health care and education.
"Now is the time to restore services and to begin to develop a comprehensive strategy to build a legal aid system that ensures that women have equal access to the justice system and reflects the needs and values of all British Columbians," the petition says.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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