Nicholas Avis, chairman of the province’s Legal Aid Commission, said the government’s decision to put more money into legal aid is good — but not good enough
Avis was responding Monday to the government’s announcement that the commission will see increased funding in the 2014 budget.
The allocation of $7.1 million to the commission over three years will bring the commission’s budget back to roughly what it had been before cuts in funding were made in the 2013 budget.
Avis said the restoration of the commission’s funding is a step in the right direction, but that more funding is still needed. He said the current budget, hovering around the $15 million mark, is not enough.
“My estimate never changes. To run legal aid … I would say we’ve got to start getting close to $20 million,” he said. “From the commission’s perspective, we still need more.”
Avis said the government’s method of funding the commission should be reconsidered.
“One of the concerns that the commission has had over the years is the degree and extent of our independence,” he said. “It is the commission’s view that the government should be giving us a grant and we should be allowed to spend it how we like.”