A $70-million boost for Legal Aid over the next four years has provided the first long-term, stable funding the organization has ever seen, its president says.

Legal Aid president John Panusa said his organization has been chronically underfunded for years, despite increased demand for services, while flanked by law colleagues as Premier Rachel Notley and Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley made the announcement of the cash injection Thursday.

“For the first time in our near-50-year history, we have an agreement that looks to the future and gives us the flexibility and tools to deliver services to those who need it,” Panusa said.

Legal Aid will see an extra $14.8 million in 2018-19, increasing its total operating grant to $104.1 million. By 2021-22, that figure will hit $110.4 million.

For Panusa, the extra money doesn’t just mean more lawyers on the payroll — it’s a chance to rejig how Legal Aid does business.

“With this renewal we’re able to work with our partners to innovate and improve service to Albertans, improve our internal processes, and improve the justice system overall,” he said.

“Sustainable funding for our organization doesn’t just allow us to serve more Albertans. It allows us the capacity to innovate and improve the way we serve our clients and improve access to justice for all Albertans.”

Panusa highlighted Legal Aid’s role as a vital cog in the wheel of Alberta’s court system. Between its new justice of the peace bail program and the varied support services it provides, he said, “we help our clients get their lives back on track and build Alberta’s faith in our justice system.”



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Source:: Edmonton Journal – Politics


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Legal Aid funding boost provides needed stability: President

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