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Dear Party Leaders: #LegalAidMatters

The CBA launched its 2019 federal election campaign with a letter to the leaders of the major political parties challenging them to stand up for access to justice through stable, sustainable legal aid funding.

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The letter, signed by CBA National President Ray Adlington, as well as all 13 branch presidents, made the business case for adequate funding.

“Providing legal aid is expensive, but not providing legal aid costs more,” the letter says. For example, unrepresented litigants cause delays in an already overburdened system; they also tend to get worse results, such as losing out on child support, which can cause greater reliance on publicly funded programs. “Cost-benefit research shows that $1.00 spent on legal aid saves about $6.00 on other government services.”

The CBA campaign is asking the federal parties to take the lead in this serious issue.

“We ask that you show leadership in two ways: by committing to dedicated federal legal aid funding; and by adopting guiding principles for a national integrated system of public legal assistance to improve access to justice and meet the needs of disadvantaged people across Canada.”

The CBA has asked to meet with each of the major parties to discuss how they can add reaching equal justice to their campaign platforms.

That was just the first salvo in the campaign. Members can add their voice by visiting a  webpage where they will find, customizable letters to write to the candidates in their ridings, messages and images to use on social media, background materials and suggested questions to ask candidates at town hall meetings and when they come to the door.

The CBA has also created a public-facing social media campaign aimed at developing grassroots interest in the issue. #LegalAidMatters features everyday working people whose lives have been derailed by their inability access legal advice. Our characters are composites, but their situations are all too real.