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Legal Aid Alberta to continue service as negotiations resume on new governance deal

EDMONTON — Legal Aid Alberta says it will continue provide lawyers to those who can’t afford them as negotiations resume with the province and law society over a new governance agreement.

The organization had said earlier in the week that it would stop providing lawyers after next Tuesday over a funding and governance dispute with the province.

Legal aid in Alberta is funded jointly by the federal and provincial governments and money raised by interest on funds held in trust by lawyers.

Alberta Justice had sent a letter to Legal Aid Alberta last week saying a new funding arrangement would be instituted and would see the province’s contribution come through one-year grants controlled by the justice minister.

Legal Aid Alberta, the Law Society of Alberta and Justice Minister Mickey Amery now say the governance agreement that recently expired will be extended until Sept. 5.

They said in a joint statement that the extension will allow the three parties time to finalize the negotiation of a new agreement that provides for a long-term and independent legal aid program.

The parties have been in talks since March 2023 on a new deal.

“We look forward to good-faith negotiations and establishing a long-term governance agreement that ensures independent legal advice and assistance for vulnerable and disadvantaged Albertans in the justice system,” Ryan Callioux, board chairman of Legal Aid Alberta, said in the statement.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2024.

The Canadian Press