Surrey has a new legal clinic for low-income residents, who will now be able to access staff lawyers for legal services.
Attorney General David Eby announced a $250,000 grant for Sources Community Resources Society on Wednesday to establish the clinic.
"Legal clinics provide so much more than a website or a handbook. They offer excellent in-person legal advice and representation,” said Eby via an online statement.
Sources, a non-profit group, already provides a so-called legal advocacy office with legal information and resources for “poverty law” and “family law” programs funded for $90,000 each by the Law Foundation of B.C., which has a legislated mandate to fund legal education, research, legal aid, law reform and law libraries in B.C.
The new grant will allow Sources to hire lawyers to offer legal advice on issues such as poverty, housing, immigration and accessibility, and to even act as counsel in legal proceedings pro bono.
“This funding will make a huge difference in the lives of our clients,” said David Young, CEO of Sources. “They can come to Sources with the confidence they'll be provided with the legal expertise to navigate the justice system, and know that they no longer need to be afraid of the process,” added Young, via a statement.
The grant comes from a $2 million pledge from Eby’s ministry to establish a minimum of eight new legal clinics in B.C. The establishment of clinics was among 25 recommendations in lawyer Jamie Maclaren’s review of legal aid released earlier this year.
“My report recommends the development of community legal clinics providing family law and poverty law services, specialty clinics, indigenous justice centres, an experimental criminal law office and a major case team of lawyers and paralegals specializing in long and complex criminal cases,” Maclaren said.
The first clinic was established in Vancouver through the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre. It will support renters with issues related to tenancy and housing. Locations for other clinics are being finalized.
Eby said legal clinics are part of the government’s anti-poverty strategy and a broader attempt to improve access to justice.
However, while Eby has recently struck a new labour agreement with legal aid lawyers, he still faces labour unrest with staff lawyers at the Legal Services Society, which oversees legal aid in B.C.
- With files from Jeremy Hainsworth