Legal aid negotiations between the Attorney General and the Association des avocats de l`aide juridique in 2019 led to a collective agreement that provides that lawyers can increase the amount they receive for legal aid. The duration of the agreement is from November 4, 2019 to March 31, 2022. Lawyers who have been in the office for some time remember that we did not always have competitive salaries compared to those in the private sector or other provinces (interested parties can check our website for more details). Crown lawyer salaries have more than doubled since 1994, well above the rate of inflation. The Crown Counsel Association had to participate in work stoppages and get back to work with the law to move forward. The change really happened in 2007, when the government of the day agreed to a 12-year collective agreement with the Crown Lawyers Association that allowed for a catch-up race, so that the highest Crown counsel would reach 80% of a provincial judge`s salary by the end of that period (2019), this meant annual increases of 1.27% over those granted to judges. Under the leadership of our predecessor, Treasury Board Order 329/2007 provided that these increases applied to „all legal counsel.“ The government has made it clear that it is not because we asked for the right to collective bargaining. While they`re not sure why they did this, it`s easy to understand. The Crown Counsel Association has a collective strength that has been denied to us so far. Clearly, the government does not want to exceed a 2% annual term and, most importantly, to sever the link between the salaries of provincial court judges and the salaries of the Crown attorney or ourselves, or both.
They are not convinced that they can make a connection with the Crown Lawyers Association, so they hope that it will stay with us. The SSL Act and the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), as well as the mandate letter, determine the relationship between our organization and the provincial government. These serve as the basis for our agreement and corporate mandate. As you know, until 2015, the government took the position that it was „inappropriate“ for lawyers to engage in collective bargaining. Since then, it has been said that we can only do this if we abandon the structure that we have had since at least 1992. As you also know, we have sued the government for this position. Only if we have the same rights to collective representation as Crown counsel – and other workers – will we be able to protect our interests. We are faced with a moment of decision. Anyone who has been in government for some time has experienced periods of austerity and cuts, as well as times when the government`s need for legal services – legal services it cannot profitably receive from the private sector – has pushed them in the other direction. If budgets are under pressure again, we could face demands for concessions from employers. Subsection 11(4) of the Act limits the amount of legal aid we can provide to each client to „the extent of legal or other services that a reasonable person would use with modest means to resolve the problem.“ Fully represent Crown counsel in all matters of professional interest; Treasury Board told us that this was no longer the case.
We are looking for legal advice on our options and will contact you. But one of our options is to do what the Crown Counsel Association did in the 1990s and early 2000s — and get organized. But the other message was a message that challenges us all. After nearly thirty years, Treasury Board has divided the Legal Counsel Classification Series into two parts – one for Crown counsel and the other for all other government counsel (primarily lawyers working for LSOs). This is an attempt to make us legally aware that it is no longer a duration and condition of our employment that we receive the same remuneration that the Crown Lawyers Association is able to negotiate for itself. We are alone. Create, promote and encourage better understanding, unity and cooperation among the members of the Association; In the meantime, the most important thing we can do is stay united and convince our colleagues of the value of our organization. We need to remind newly hired lawyers and recent appeals that things have not always been good in terms of compensation and that we need to act together to maintain our position in the future. Members of the executive would be happy to speak to any LSB lawyer about how we got here and the importance of collective action to support the progress we have made.
And of course, we are always happy to listen to your ideas and comments. Participation in charitable or charitable activities on behalf of the Crown Attorney. I find it interesting that Treasury Board, in its order of 4. June opened the door of „no“ to our collective efforts to influence our working conditions, rather than letting them decide for us. They express their openness to salary changes that are „negotiated between the employer and a designated negotiator for the lawyer.“ We will see if this is a softening of their position on our rights to freedom of association. The previous letter between the Government of British Columbia and our organization can be found in the 2019-2020 mandate letter. Under section 9 of the current Legal Services Corporation Act (LSS), our mandate is as follows: The Government of British Columbia announced in its February 2018 Budget Speech that it would increase our funding by $26 million over three years. In April 2019, the Attorney General approved Legal Aid BC`s 2019-2020 Three-Year Budget Management Plan in a budget approval letter. It contains a general understanding of how funds are spent.
As set out in the LSS Act, we define the range of services we will provide under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) negotiated with the Attorney General every three years. The Declaration of Intent: Even if we are alone, we can decide if we are all alone together. The 2020-2021 mandate letter is the Government of British Columbia`s instruction to legal aid for British Columbia as a Crown corporation. It describes the government`s priority strategic actions and expectations for the year. We involve them in the development of our service plan. Represent Crown counsel in matters relating to compensation, benefits, working conditions and any other matter relating to their relationship with the employer and their ability to carry out their duties effectively; The letter is intended to provide an opportunity for dialogue between the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Aid British Columbia, which will help meet the government`s policy and performance expectations. It does not create any legal or binding obligation for the parties. .