Media Release: BC Government Removes Access to Justice from the Community of Terrace

Publish date: Thursday, June 08, 2023 news

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.

Watch a video and read a profile about the work of Legal Aid BC Lawyers.

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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Media Contact:
Jordana Whetter, Senior Communications Officer
Phone: 250-385-8791 ext. 210


In this section

The PEA was formed in 1974, by a group of professionals working in the public sector. The story goes that the founders of the union mortgaged their houses to fund negotiations of the union’s first collective agreement. 

Now, the PEA is BC’s union for professionals. We represent a wide range of professionals including lawyers, foresters, engineers, agrologists, teachers, veterinarians, fundraisers, physiotherapists, pharmacists, psychologists program managers, librarians and more.

Our union is led by the PEA Executive. They represent members from across the chapters of the PEA and set the overall vision and direction for our union.

Resources for our members

Navigating a union can sometime be a challenging process. Under this section of the website you will find resources to help you navigate the PEA. In the members section you'll find expense claim reimbursements, information on the PEA's scholarship and bursary program and our grants and donations program.

Collective bargaining and job action resources explain the process of collective bargaining and what to do in the unlikely event of job action. 

Local reps can also find resources to help them complete their job more effectively. This includes ways to welcome new members, how to take notes in investigation disciplinary meetings and more.

The heart of our union

The PEA is made up of nine chapters, or groups of members who either work for the same employer or are in the same field of work. Each chapter has an elected executive tasked with running the affairs of the chapter. Each chapter is entitled to representation at the PEA Executive, the governing body of the union. 

Our members work for a range of employers: the Province of BC, the University of Victoria, St. Margaret's School, the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program, the Oil and Gas Commission, the Law Society of BC, Legal Services Society, the Okangan Regional Library and health authorities across BC.

Professionals need unions now more then ever

Since the 1970’s, when the PEA was formed, our mission has been to ensure our members can work in safe, productive environments and receive fair and reasonable wages and benefits for the valuable work they do. We help individuals and groups of professional workers to understand the challenges they face in their workplaces and some of the solutions available to them. 

We work with potential members to become certified as a union and achieve the wages, benefits and respect they deserve. 

The Professional | Volume 48 Issue 1

The Professional is the PEA's award-winning, quarterly magazine for members.

The Spring 2022 issue takes a deep dive into the work of GLP members and their work during provincial emergencies.

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The PEA was formed in 1974 to represent licensed professionals in the BC Public Service. Since then the organization has grown to include a wide range of professionals from across BC. Find our more about our governance, staff and strategic direction.

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