Alberta expands legal aid eligibility

The qualifying income for legal aid services is set to increase to $30,000 (gross) per year

Alberta expands legal aid eligibility

Alberta's provincial government has announced an update to the financial eligibility guidelines for Legal Aid Alberta, marking what it says is a pivotal step towards broadening access to legal services for the province's lower-income residents.

Starting April 1, the qualifying income threshold for legal aid services will increase from $24,456 (gross) per year to $30,000 (gross) per year. This adjustment means individuals earning up to $30,000 annually could now be eligible for legal representation through Legal Aid Alberta.

Legal Aid Alberta is a publicly funded, non-profit organization that provides affordable legal services in family law, domestic violence, child welfare, immigration, and youth and adult criminal defence. In the 2022-23 fiscal year, Legal Aid Alberta served 35,449 clients. According to the provincial government, the organization plays an integral role in the administration of justice by supporting some of Alberta’s most vulnerable citizens.

By raising the income threshold, Alberta’s government aims to ensure that legal aid can assist more individuals navigating challenging periods of their lives, such as those involved in child support disputes or escaping situations of domestic violence.

Mickey Amery, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, emphasized the importance of legal aid in providing fairness before the courts, irrespective of an individual's financial status. He stated, “Legal aid helps people in some of the most trying periods of their lives. Whether it’s a parent fighting for child support or a survivor of domestic violence fleeing an abusive partner, fairness before the courts shouldn’t depend on the size of a person’s bank account. Increasing the financial eligibility guidelines will allow more Albertans to qualify for legal aid and get the help they need when they need it.”

Gianpaolo (John) Panusa, President and CEO of Legal Aid Alberta, reflected on the organization's 50-year history of resolving legal problems for Albertans. He welcomed increased access to legal aid services, stating, "It is an important step for improving access to justice for Albertans living paycheque to paycheque.”

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