Legal Aid funds diverted by BC Government in excess of $100 million dollars. Legal? Yes. Moral or right? No.

Without a doubt, there has been ample attention this week to Yoga on the bridge and today, the flippant, somewhat childish attempt by the premier to poke fun at the thousands of people who are upset and outraged.

A welcome distraction from the ongoing health care scandal that revealed the BC government did not actually give the RCMP information they claimed they had, to the press and the public. One man took his life-let us not forget.

I’ve written of many of the BC Liberals most compelling failures over the years – and there are many. Failures of policy, failures of action, you can find it all here.

But among the list of more than 100 reasons the BC Liberals need to go are the many sweeping cuts made to the services that assist the provinces most vulnerable population.

When Campbell came in, he made massive cuts to personal income taxes, and to corporate tax.  While British Columbians cheered at having more money in their pockets, the resulting hole in provincial revenue those tax cuts made, had to be accounted for. And to be honest, it never really was.  We began seeing MSP increases and user fees, which are a form of regressive taxation.

And the most vulnerable among us, the ones least likely to complain as they struggle to make it through what life’s handed them,began to see cuts.

Cuts to legal aid, cuts to women’s centres, cuts to funding social service agencies and non-profits. The list is long and extensive. And very sad.

Legal aid took a huge hit.

85% of legal aid offices in BC were closed, including 5 regional officers. 75% staff reduction.Family law cut by half. Closure of the law line.

A complete timeline of the cuts can be found here. http://www.povnet.org/node/3629

But there is no money, the government has said time and time again with only minimal increases to funding.

So imagine the surprise many are going to feel when they hear that according to this lawyer, the BC government has been diverting in excess of $100 million dollars of the funds meant to go to Legal Aid, into other things?

And while it is perfectly legal, it is indeed morally wrong and it takes help out of the hands of those who need it most.

The special tax  paid on legal services is meant to fund legal aid. But apparently… it’s been used elsewhere.

CFAX radio had the exclusive today. I urge you to all read this, and to listen to the interview.

” Victoria lawyer Michael Mulligan on CFAX 1070 with Pamela McCall discussing new freedom of information data the reveals the amount of money being diverted from the legal aid system by the provincial government. The FOI information reveals that $171.7 million was collected in 2014 by a special tax on legal services while only $74.9 million was used for the intended purpose.

The special tax on legal services was introduced by the NDP in 1992 for the express purpose of funding legal aid. After several years the tax was collecting more money than the government was providing to legal aid. When in opposition, the BC Liberals were critical of the NDP for the diversion of $15 million from this special tax.

When in opposition the then Liberal critic asked the following in the legislature, “I’m sure we can quibble about the numbers but the larger public policy question remains. Isn’t there something wrong with the government taking all this money from legal accounts as a result of a tax which was imposed, the justification of which was for legal aid, yet it doesn’t actually really direct all of that revenue into the legal aid system.”

As a result of substantial cuts to legal aid funding including for the provision of poverty law and family law services, the amount of tax revenue being diverted is now in excess of $100 million per year as the federal government provides the provincial government with more then $13.5 million per year to assist with the cost of criminal legal aid.”

http://mtplaw.com/legal-aid-funds-diverted-by-bc-government/

10 thoughts on “Legal Aid funds diverted by BC Government in excess of $100 million dollars. Legal? Yes. Moral or right? No.

  1. brianp 1950

    it will stop when we get rid of a party system that is running amuck, no accountability, no compassion, and total lack of respect for the taxpayer.

    A change of government will make no difference but a change in the way we elect people will.

    We need a taxpayers bill of rights that MLA’S must sign before taking their seat.

    We need better and easier recall options and most of all we need to take control of our rights.

    There is an old saying, when people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people there is democracy. Which do you think we have?

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    1. I agree 100%. But how’s it gonna happen? D’ya think a party-in-power is gonna do an about-face on this? This ‘hoping for’ change is like begging for what is already yours.

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  2. I do not think there is a deeper, more visceral response of disgust for this government than mine. CC makes me gag and the actions of the legislature are almost always wrong, sometimes evil to boot. This is like being governed by Imelda Marcus. “Show me the shoes!”

    Having said that, the Liberals have set a new, lower standard of acceptance/ambivalence for the public and they are getting away with it. And please note the lack of visibility in our official opposition.

    Our biggest voter ‘outburst’ to date has been over the HST and the second biggest is ferry fares. We are all way too money oriented to the extent that the majority of people have given up on referring to their moral compass.

    In fact, we are clearly losing it. To make the argument based on what is right nowadays is to set yourself up as naive. “Yeah, you may be right and good and all that crap, but what’s it gonna cost?”

    The buck has to stop. And I am referring to the ‘love of money’, the root of all evil. We have to start demanding actions based on the ‘right thing’ or else we are all doomed to being governed by the most evil. We are practically there now.

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    1. John's Aghast

      Your problem JDC is that you share your ‘visceral response of disgust’ between the Federal government and the Provincial government. I you could concentrate it on one or the other would it make a difference? Double your pleasure, double your fun? Somehow I doubt it. I certainly enjoy your outbursts and share your ‘viscerality’ although not with the same literary eloquence.

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  3. Heather

    If this government is not financially bankrupt from spending like a kid in a candy store on their pet projects, friends and campaign contributors, they are most certainly morally bankrupt. Not difficult to see why many people did not want to vote in the extra .5% sales tax for Translink when we all know full well how this government regularly siphons off funds whenever and to whomever they like.

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  4. Pingback: There are some investments you can’t afford not to make…so why aren’t our governments doing so? | No Strings Attached : Laila Yuile on politics and life in B.C.

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