Legal aid agency sends out a distress call

The head of the Legal Services Society has delivered an unusually blunt assessment of its ability to help British Columbia's neediest citizens. In a letter to Attorney General Barry Penner, which was published in the society's most recent service plan, outgoing board chair D. Mayland McKimm writes the independent, government-funded organization "is on a stable, albeit significantly reduced footing. In the board's assessment, however, the society is now providing services far below what the board believes is needed to properly assist British Columbians with low incomes and to effectively support the efficient operation of the justice system." In January 2002, the Campbell administration slashed its grant to the society by 38.8 percent - from $88.3 to $54 million. Since then, that funding has marginally increased, being budgeted at $69.7 million for fiscal 2011/12.

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