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Increase Funding for BC Legal Aid

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Access to adequate and educated legal advice in British Columbia is slowly becoming a thing of the past. With the priority on education and healthcare, legal services has slipped out of sequence. This is a devastating and detrimental blow to all citizens of British Columbia. Between 2002 and 2005, the B.C. Liberal Government cut back Legal Aid Funding in BC by 40%. Most recently, in January of 2012, 5 regional Legal Aid offices were closed including: Kelowna, Kamloops, Prince George, Victoria, and Surrey. Approximately 55 people from Legal Aid Offices have been laid off in recent months, with more layoffs coming. But what may be most shocking and most disturbing, is the fact that cuts in the Legal Aid budget are severely effecting the process in our Court system. Cases are simply being thrown out, because of lack of due process. A self represented litigant (unwillfully I may add - he/she cannot afford to privately retain a lawyer, and do not qualify for legal aid) slows down the Court process, which in turn leads to a lack of due process. Lawyers will often refuse Legal Aid cases that, after the work has been done on the file, yield a paycheck that equals minimum wage payment rates. The notion that lawyers are "overpaid and underworked" is uneducated, unwarranted, and absolutely ridiculous. You may think this does not effect you; wait until you find yourself in a great deal of trouble, with no funds to hire a lawyer. Wait until you're told you don't qualify for legal aid. Wait until your freedom is jeopardized, and you have absolutely no means to help yourself. Or, you could speak out, sign this petition, take back YOUR rights. Don't wait until it is too late.

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