With Legal Aid Alberta services possibly ending next week, Airdrie East MLA Angela Pitt shared her thoughts on the situation.

Vulnerable Albertans who require Legal Aid Alberta's (LAA) services may not be able to do so in less than a week, according to the organization, because the province failed to show up for negotiations to extend a governance agreement that ended on June 30.

As a publicly funded, non-profit organization, LAA provides affordable legal services in family law, domestic violence, child welfare, immigration, and youth and adult criminal defence.

According to LAA Board Chair Ryan Callioux, without a government agreement in place, Legal Aid will no longer be able to provide its service after 4:30 p.m. on July 9.

Pitt believes, an agreement will be reached before July 9, or at least an interim deal will be made so services can continue.

"I think that Albertans expect our government to be good stewards of their taxpayer funds and Legal Aid Alberta's costs and funding have ballooned over the last nine years, despite actually serving any additional clients. So there is reason for the Alberta government and Legal Aid Alberta to go back to the table and really figure out what's going on there."

According to a statement released by Minister of Justice Mickey Amery, over the last nine years, Legal Aid Alberta's grant funding from the Alberta Government has almost doubled. Growing from $66 million in Budget 2015 to $110 million in Budget 2024, with expenditures projected to be over $138 million this year.

"The Alberta government offered an extension for a reasonable amount of time to ensure the delivery of legal services by Legal Aid Alberta and give all parties time to finalize an agreement," stated Pitt.

With the chance of a deal possibly not coming to fruition, Pitt mentioned she is always worried about her constituents not getting the help they need.

"I'm very confident that the government and legal aid can come to a better agreement, and will continue to be able to offer these services for our citizens here in Airdrie and the area."

Ginelle Graham, the intake and outreach worker for Airdrie P.O.W.E.R (Protecting Our Women with Emergency Resources) stated a deal not coming together could be a huge problem for them.

"We're dealing with women who often are experiencing financial abuse in their situations. They either don't have access to their own money, or they don't have money to use."

Airdrie P.O.W.E.R mentioned a lot of the time when they are helping somebody out, they have to direct them to LAA because they might not have access to funds or a lawyer.

"It sort of seems like things are at a standstill because there's no plan going forward. So what is the plan? When will that be implemented? What should we expect? What can we tell our clients who can't afford legal aid? What are we supposed to do with them to help them?"

Graham mentioned their legal clinic is still available, but not having enough funding to bring in more intake workers is also causing problems.

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