EDMONTON – Legal Aid Alberta is closing seven service centres in small cities across the province to cut costs, and centralizing its phone service in Edmonton.
Sixteen positions are being added in Edmonton to accommodate the centralization.
“We’re doing everything we can to be prudent and efficient with the resources that we have,” said Jan Archbold of Legal Aid Alberta. “It just doesn’t meet the full need of other services that Albertans are wanting and needing.”
WATCH: Morning News interview with Legal Aid Alberta’s Jan Archbold
Legal Aid Alberta says the move will save about $4 million over three years.
The organization is facing a $15 million deficit at the end of its 2016-17 fiscal year. The auditor general is also reviewing funds provided to Legal Aid.
Critics call the cuts unfortunate.
“It’s ridiculous right now that somebody on AISH or somebody on minimum wage can’t get legal aid,” argued Alberta NDP justice critic, Rachel Notley.
“It’s ridiculous to assume that someone making $10 an hour can afford a lawyer. They can’t.”
Despite the closure of drop-in centres, Legal Aid Alberta stresses that its services are still available. Anyone who needs legal aid can contact the organization by phone 1.866.845.3425 or online.
Ninety per cent of people who use Legal Aid’s services are said to call rather than visit the drop-in centres.
© Shaw Media, 2014