‘Not an empty threat:’ Alberta defence lawyers warn of strike in legal aid fight

‘Not an empty threat:’ defence lawyers warn of strike in legal aid fight

CALGARY — The president of a defence lawyers group says strike action is possible if the Alberta government doesn’t come to the table with serious cash to fix legal aid.

“It’s not an empty threat,” Ian Savage, president of the Calgary Criminal Defence Lawyers Association, said at a news conference Tuesday.

Savage said Legal Aid Alberta needs an immediate infusion of cash so the province’s working poor are able to get a lawyer if they need one.

“Cases are being delayed more and more, and it’s just a fact that the system is underfunded throughout and it’s falling apart,” he said.

“We’re talking about poor people here.”

He said lawyers could well follow the example set by their legal-aid counterparts in Ontario five years ago who essentially went on strike until changes were made.

“It’s absolutely an option,” he said. “What happened in Ontario … was the senior lawyers collectively agreed not to take on any new cases for a period of months, including murders and all other serious matters.

“Those (clients) essentially went unrepresented for months and months while the government struggled to find them lawyers in another fashion.”

Savage said anyone making more than $19,000 a year is ineligible for legal aid in Alberta. The government’s increases to minimum wage — now at $13.60 an hour — could put some full-time workers over that threshold for assistance, he said.

“The simple math of the matter clearly demonstrates that by the government’s own numbers really poor people, in particular the working poor, are not even eligible for legal aid,” Savage said.

“It’s going in the wrong way.”

Scott Sehested, a spokesman for Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley, said the government increased funding for Legal Aid Alberta in this year’s budget.

Just Posted

Lee seeks UCP nomination in Red Deer

Eyes Red Deer-North constituency

Updated Red Deer smoke free bylaw to ban smoking cannabis in public

Smoke Free Bylaw returns to Red Deer city council Sept. 4

Red Deer city council considers new business licence bylaw

All businesses operating in the City of Red Deer will require a… Continue reading

Saskatchewan farmer’s death triggers emotional harvest of love and respect

MILESTONE, Sask. — Volunteers have rallied to harvest the large wheat crop… Continue reading

Councillors want to represent Red Deer at AUMA

City council approves endorsement

WATCH: Medicine River Wildlife Centre opens new playground

The grand opening of the playground was Saturday morning

Animal crackers break out of their cages

After more than a century behind bars, the beasts on boxes of… Continue reading

Alligator kills woman trying to protect her dog at resort

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — A woman who often walked her dog… Continue reading

Patients redirected as water leak shuts down Edmonton hospital’s emergency room

EDMONTON — Ambulances are being redirected to other hospitals after a water… Continue reading

Parks Canada moves second bison bull that wandered out of Banff National Park

BANFF — Parks Canada says a second bison bull that wandered out… Continue reading

Lottery for parent sponsorship to be replaced, more applications to be accepted

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is scrapping an unpopular lottery system for… Continue reading

Air Canada-led consortium signs deal to buy Aeroplan program from Aimia

TORONTO — A consortium led by Air Canada has reached a deal… Continue reading

Scheer going to India to ‘repair’ relationship after ‘disastrous’ Trudeau trip

OTTAWA — Six months after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy prowess… Continue reading

Police chiefs want new data-sharing treaty with U.S. as privacy questions linger

OTTAWA — Canada’s police chiefs are pressing the Trudeau government to sign… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month