I am honoured (and humbled) to be chosen as the 2009 recipient of the Legal Aid Alberta Access to Justice Award for the Calgary region.
Access to Justice is a very important issue, and the staff of the Legal Aid Society of Alberta should be recognized and commended for their daily commitment to this ideal. Serving the needs of the marginalized, and those of limited economic means is no easy task, but the Legal Aid Society staff do so with remarkable respect and efficiency.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has characterized the inability of a majority of Canadians to afford legal services as a "crisis":
Although McLachlin has spoken out about the problem in the past, she sharpened her remarks yesterday and went further than she has before, citing what she described as an "increasingly urgent situation."
A Toronto Star investigation this year determined the cost of a routine three-day civil trial in Ontario to be about $60,000, more than the median Canadian family income.
"The price of justice should not be so dear," McLachlin said in a speech to the bar association's governing council at the opening of a four-day legal conference here.
"Something must be done," she urged. "We must all get on the same track and move down it together."
There's "no point" in having a justice system that nobody can afford to use, McLachlin said. "We need to keep the justice system relevant and available to Canadian men, women and children."