June 8, 2023 (Victoria) – Yesterday Legal Aid BC closed the Parents Legal Centre (PLC) in Terrace, BC and laid off the community’s only Legal Aid staff lawyer. Another staff lawyer was laid off at the Smither’s PLC. As the union that represents Legal Aid BC lawyers, we condemn these actions. Removing access to justice in the province’s north goes against the Government’s promise of enhancing legal aid services in BC.
Legal Aid BC provides lawyers to those who can’t afford one in criminal, immigration, and family matters where people are facing some of the most trying issues of their lives. Especially in family cases, which is what the PLC in Terrace and Smithers are mainly responsible for, the ability to have access to a lawyer during one of the greatest times of distress is a fundamental right for all British Columbians.
“Legal Aid lawyers uphold our province’s democratic values and safeguard our judicial system by ensuring that those in need have a fair trial,” said Brett Harper, Labour Relations Officer with the Professional Employees Association (PEA). “We need more access to justice resources in small communities in BC, not less.”
Legal Aid has stated that the Terrace PLC did not process enough files to remain open, but the PEA maintains that access to justice should not be founded on a business model that puts funding before families.
About the PEA
The Professional Employees Association is a labour union for professionals. Formed in 1974 to represent the Government Licensed Professionals employed in the BC public service, the union has grown to represent professionals in the education, legal, union and health care sectors. The PEA has represented lawyers at Legal Aid BC since 1981.
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Jordana Whetter, Senior Communications Officer
Phone: 250-385-8791 ext. 210