Under section 9 of the current Legal Services Society (LSS) Act, our mandate is to:
- help people to solve their legal problems and to facilitate access to justice,
- establish and administer an effective and efficient system for providing legal aid to people in BC, and
- provide advice to the Attorney General about legal aid and access to justice for people in BC.
Section 9 also states that our organization is to:
- give priority to identifying and assessing the legal needs of people with low incomes in BC,
- consider the perspectives of both justice system services providers and the general public,
- coordinate legal aid with other aspects of the justice system and community services, and
- be flexible and innovative in carrying out its mandate.
Section 11(4) of the act limits the amount of legal aid we can provide to any client to "the extent of legal or other services that a reasonable person of modest means would use to resolve the problem."
The LSS Act and the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), together with the Mandate Letter, guide the relationship between our organization and the provincial government. These serve as the basis of our agreement and corporate mandate.
As outlined in the LSS Act, we determine the range of services we will provide within the framework of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) negotiated with the Attorney General every three years. The MOU:
- sets out the roles and responsibilities of both parties,
- outlines anticipated provincial government funding for legal aid and the priorities for allocating that funding,
- acknowledges that we receive funding from sources other than the government and can apply that funding in any manner that's appropriate to fulfilling our mandate, and
- establishes the foundation for our budget and planning process.
The BC government announced in its February 2018 budget speech that it would increase our funding by $26 million over three years. In April 2019, the Attorney General approved Legal Aid BC's 2019/20 three-year budget management plan in a budget approval letter. It sets out a general understanding of how the funding will be spent.
The 2021-2022 Mandate Letter is the BC government's direction to Legal Aid BC as a Crown corporation. It outlines the government's strategic priority actions and expectations for the year. We incorporate these in developing our Service Plan.
The letter is intended to create an opportunity for dialogue between the Ministry of Attorney General and Legal Aid BC, resulting in achievement of the government's policy and performance expectations. It doesn't create any legal or binding obligations on the parties.
To view the previous letter between the BC government and our organization, see the 2020-2021 Mandate Letter.
Legal aid negotiations between the Ministry of Attorney General and Association of Legal Aid Lawyers in 2019 resulted in a Tariff Agreement providing lawyers with an increase in the amount they are paid to do legal aid work. The term of the agreement is from November 4, 2019 to March 31, 2022. See the Tariff Agreement.