The following is a message from LSS Board Chair Tom Christensen that was sent out to all legal aid lawyers today. For more background on the financial situation please see his previous message and this earlier message from Mark Benton, our Chief Executive Officer.
I am writing to update you on LSS’s evolving financial position for the balance of this fiscal year.
Since my last message to you, Mark Benton, QC, and I met again with Attorney General, Suzanne Anton, QC; and her two Deputy Ministers, Richard Fyfe, QC, and Lori Wanamaker, FCA. LSS and ministry staff are also in regular contact. Those discussions continue to be constructive. The Attorney General also advises that her ministry is facing serious cost pressures and is looking for ways to reduce its own spending.
As you know from previous messages, LSS’s current fiscal pressures in the criminal tariff are a consequence of the success in reducing the court’s backlog so that cases move through the judicial system more quickly.
The LSS Board has directed that any operational savings within LSS should be first directed to maintaining CFCSA services. I am pleased to advise that we are now confident that the previously highlighted cost pressure in the CFCSA tariff is manageable, and LSS will be able to maintain these services through the fiscal year. This will ensure cases where children have been taken into care under the CFCSA will be dealt with as expeditiously as possible.
We continue to face a significant cost pressure in criminal tariff services and to consider options. Our discussions with government are ongoing, and Mark and I expect to meet with the Attorney General in the next few days in our joint effort to maintain services.
Thank you for your ongoing commitment to making justice work in BC. We will keep you apprised of developments. As always, we welcome your feedback on how we can better support you at LawyersResources@lss.bc.ca.
Chair, LSS Board of Directors
October 4, 2013