June 29, 2004
FREDERICTON (CNB) - The Province will take immediate steps to restore the availability of legal aid services for New Brunswick residents. Amendments to the Legal Aid Act were tabled in the Legislature today by Justice Minister Brad Green.
"Canadians have a right to legal counsel under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms," Green said. "We will ensure that New Brunswickers who are eligible for legal aid will continue to have access to the court system."
The proposed amendments to the Legal Aid Act will give the Minister of Justice the authority to establish, administer and fund a legal aid plan. The revised legislation would allow the Province to appoint a director who could contract with lawyers to provide legal aid services. The bill would also permit the establishment of a legal aid committee to advise the director and make recommendations on policy matters.
"We have made a very generous offer to lawyers who provide Legal Aid services to increase their fees by 67 per cent over two years," Green said. "However, ensuring access to the court system for those who cannot afford to hire a lawyer is our principal concern."
MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Toft, communications, Justice, 506-453-6543.