Recent data published by Statistics Canada shows that there has been a growing need in Alberta for the Legal Aid services that include of Immigration and Refugee cases. This is important data to consider as there has been a difficulty to attract lawyers who will take legal aid cases as well as a shift in the demands of client seeking legal aid.
In 2015, there were 968 lawyers in Alberta who reported working on legal aid files, 90% of these lawyers were private lawyers who took legal aid files as part of their practice. What is interesting is that over the last decade that number has remained exactly the same. From 2004/5 to 2014/5, there was no increase in the number of lawyers who are working on legal aid cases.
At the same time, what happened the number of applications? While the overall number of applications stayed almost the same, the number of cases that included Immigration law cases rose significantly. The category for ‘other civil matters’ – which contains Immigration and Refugee matters – increased from 3,130 in 5,316 over the last ten years, a 70% increase.
Legal Aid Alberta provide access to affordable legal services for individuals who meet the eligibility criteria. This allows those who could not otherwise afford to hire a lawyer to ensure that they are able to be properly represented at a hearing or tribunal.