Le­gal Aid fund­ing boost pro­vides needed sta­bil­ity, says group’s pres­i­dent

Fort McMurray Today - - ALBERTA NEWS - EMMA GRANEY egraney@post­media.com

A $70-mil­lion boost for Le­gal Aid over the next four years has pro­vided the first long-term, sta­ble fund­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion has ever seen, its pres­i­dent says.

Le­gal Aid pres­i­dent John Panusa said his or­ga­ni­za­tion has been chron­i­cally un­der­funded for years, de­spite in­creased de­mand for ser­vices, while flanked by law col­leagues as Pre­mier Rachel Not­ley and Jus­tice Min­is­ter Kath­leen Gan­ley made the an­nounce­ment of the cash in­jec­tion Thurs­day.

“For the first time in our near-50-year his­tory, we have an agree­ment that looks to the fu­ture and gives us the flex­i­bil­ity and tools to de­liver ser­vices to those who need it,” Panusa said.

Le­gal Aid will see an ex­tra $14.8 mil­lion in 2018-19, in­creas­ing its to­tal oper­at­ing grant to $104.1 mil­lion. By 2021-22, that fig­ure will hit $110.4 mil­lion.

For Panusa, the ex­tra money doesn’t just mean more lawyers on the pay­roll — it’s a chance to re­jig how Le­gal Aid does busi­ness.

“With this re­newal we’re able to work with our part­ners to in­no­vate and im­prove ser­vice to Al­ber­tans, im­prove our in­ter­nal pro­cesses, and im­prove the jus­tice sys­tem over­all,” he said.

“Sus­tain­able fund­ing for our or­ga­ni­za­tion doesn’t just al­low us to serve more Al­ber­tans. It al­lows us the ca­pac­ity to in­no­vate and im­prove the way we serve our clients and im­prove ac­cess to jus­tice for all Al­ber­tans.”

Panusa high­lighted Le­gal Aid’s role as a vi­tal cog in the wheel of Al­berta’s court sys­tem. Be­tween its new jus­tice of the peace bail pro­gram and the var­ied sup­port ser­vices it pro­vides, he said, “we help our clients get their lives back on track and build Al­berta’s faith in our jus­tice sys­tem.”


Le­gal Aid Al­berta pres­i­dent and CEO John Panusa on Au­gust 31, 2018.

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