Saturday, June 13, 2015

This Day In Clark/Anton/deJong Land...Show Us The (Legal Aid) Money!


Lotuslandian Bloggers like Laila and Grant have been all over this for awhile...

Now it's the local division of the MoCo's turn, coming straight out of the 'On The Coast' engine room:

A Victoria lawyer says the provincial government is failing to use all the money it collects for legal aid.

Michael Mulligan says he has proof that the province is short-changing B.C.'s Legal Services Society, which helps people who can't afford a lawyer.

Mulligan says documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request show that last year the province raised close to $172 million through a special legal services tax, in addition to $14 million from Ottawa for legal aid. However the B.C. government only spent $75 million dollars of that money on the program.

"So the net result is that the provincial government is failing to provide more than $100 million a year of this money," he said...

The actual interview between Mr. Mulligan and Stephen Quinn that this piece was built on is....Here.
Lawyerly types that stop by here occasionally (and I know there are a few of you) and/or a certain former politician-type person who had something to do with the original legislation....Feel free to weigh in...Either in the comments or by Email (pacificgazette at yahoo dot c+a).



Eleanor Gregory said...

The PST on lawyers' fees was introduced by the BCNDP when they were in power in the 1990s. The rationale given then was that the funds raised would go to legal aid.

No other professional in B.C. has to charge PST and so the lawyers were concerned that they were losing business to other professionals who didn't have to charge the PST. Money raised by the PST very quickly went into general revenue and so, as far as I know, there has never been a buck for buck relationship between PST on lawyers' fees and legal aid funding.

One of the things the B.C. Liberals talked about doing, when they were campaigning in the 2001 provincial election, was to get rid of the PST on lawyers' fees or, at least, make sure all funds thus raised went to legal aid. After their successful election in 2001, I recall being told many times that the issue was "on the radar" but nothing changed.

Needless to say, I think many lawyers were pleased when the HST was introduced to "harmonize" the PST and GST. At least with that, all professionals had to charge the full 12% HST on fees. Of course, the HST was booted and we are back to a PST and GST regime.

It is "challenging" for a government of any political stripe to get rid of a source of revenue, like the PST on lawyers' fees.

Grant G said...

Thanks Ross K...

Just want to say, I wear my emotions on my sleeves..

The legal aid issue, the need in BC is so great..Even if the money went to clear court backlogs or new judges, at minimum, all the money should go into the justice swystem..

I appreciate the work you do..and Farrell and Laila..

How many stories have there been over the last 5 years about a BC justice system starved for funding...

Damn media, kinda like...Well, the NDP had a BC Hydro deferral account in the 90`s..The BC NDP diverted legal aid money too...So there!..

BC NDP left office in 2001 with a $35 million dollar deferral(debt) account at BC Hydro...

BC Liberals have deferred $9 billion dollars of BC Hydro debt, not counting Site C..

BC NDP took $15 million dollars out of the legal aid tax in 1998..and 1999..

BC Liberals are taking on average $100 million from the legal aid designated tax..

We need Norman Farrell and his graphs on this one..


JasonS said...

I don`t understand why this misappropriation of public money goes unchallenged. If the so called 5th estate`s job has changed from questioner to cheerleader do they deserve to be reporting the news ?