Alberta government increases pay for legal aid lawyers

Amid an ongoing dispute with the province’s defence lawyers over legal aid funding and eligibility guidelines, the Alberta government announced Wednesday it is boosting the hourly tariff rate for those who take on legal aid files.

In a news release, the government said it is increasing the hourly tariff rate of $92.40 for lawyers with 10 years or more of experience to $100 per hour for the rest of the fiscal year, “until permanent changes can be determined.”

READ MORE: Defence lawyers to stop taking new legal aid files as dispute with Alberta continues

Late last month, defence lawyers escalated job action in their ongoing fight for changes by refusing to take on any new legal aid files. Those lawyers said the system has suffered from more than a decade of underfunding.

Justice Minister Tyler Shandro said a comprehensive review of the legal aid system in Alberta is expected to be delivered to the government later this month, after which the province will take steps to modernize the system and ensure processes, legal practices and remuneration are up to date.

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The government said the modernization effort will inform funding decisions for the 2023-2024 budget.

“With the modernization project on track to conclude this month and increased funding available through the federal government, there is now an opportunity to increase legal aid funding earlier than anticipated,” Shandro said. “Our commitment to review all aspects of legal aid funding remains in place.

“This in-year funding increase is a first step and we look forward to the results of the modernization project and the results of the comprehensive review.”

According to the government, Alberta currently ranks sixth among Canadian provinces for its hourly tariff rate and the increase raises the ranking to fourth.

More to come…

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