Every voice on the state of Family Law legal aid issues matters!!!  Battered Women’s Support Services is urging you get your voices heard and make a submission to the Public Commission on Legal Aid.

The Public Commission on Legal Aid was established with the purpose of determining  the priorities regarding legal aid in the province of British Columbia. The Commission is inviting written submissions from members of the public to voice their concerns or share any proposed solutions to the legal aid crisis in BC.

The deadline for the written submission and expression of interest is September 1st, 2010. By way of example, we are sharing our own draft letter of interest to the Commission. Please feel free to refer to it as an example. The guide to writing submissions can be found at this link:  http://www.publiccommission.org/submissions/PDF/guide_to_submissions.pdf

If you have any questions or need any clarifications,  please contact us at strategicinterventions@bwss.org.

Please scroll down to read the letter written by Anne Beveridge – Representative on the Public Commission on Legal Aid as she explains the process further. Please circulate.



Letter by Anne Beveridge:

To Those Concerned about Legal Aid in BC,

The Coalition for Public Legal Services is calling on all concerned citizens to make a submission to the Public Commission on Legal Aid about how to improve our Legal Aid system.

This Commission is not funded by government. It is a project paid for by a group of concerned lawyers’ organizations. They need to hear from any organization that works with low income British Columbians, women, immigrant communities, disability groups, First Nations and Aboriginal groups and communities…anyone who knows what it means to face a legal problem without legal help.

  • Do you know of a client whose quality of life could have been saved with even a little legal help?
  • Have you been able to give a client legal services only so far but have been frustrated because you needed a lawyer to take the case to court?
  • Have you seen families break down in bitterness because they are being hounded by creditors, when assistance with debt and mediation of their family issues could have prevented or reduced these problems?
  • Has your disabled client lost her subsidized apartment because of a “patently unreasonable” decision by an arbitrator, but you can’t help because she needs a lawyer to take the case to judicial review.
  • Have you tried – but failed through lack of resources – to help someone who has lost their disability pension because of a wrongful dismissal?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, now is the time to act. Send in a submission (or a point form outline of a future submission) to the BC Public Commission on Legal Aid on or before September 1st and make a difference. Speak with a strong voice so that future clients will be given the legal services they need.

Did you know that other countries have found that taxpayers pay less towards the health budget if legal problems are promptly addressed? Did you know that the stress from unaddressed legal problems can cause family breakdowns and long term physical and mental disabilities?

We know that you are probably snowed under with work and think you have no time to spend on “extras.” You may think this is just an exercise by lawyers for lawyers, but it’s not. It is a project that could help your clients, your community, and you. The Commission wants to hear from you.

The Commission is holding hearings in 11 BC locations. You can ask to appear before them by sending a submission or outline to them by September 1st. You can also go to the hearing to find out what others are saying. If you want to send in a written submission instead of speaking at a hearing, then the deadline is October 31st.

The Commission has invited politicians from all levels of government to attend the hearings. Now is your chance to speak directly to them and to Len D’oust, the Commissioner who will be writing the final report.

If you want to contact the Coalition for help, go to the list of members on our website and contact anyone of the organizations listed http://www.cplsbc.ca/

Working with and for you,

Anne Beveridge,

CPLS representative on the Public Commission on Legal Aid