The Yukon government has agreed to increase funding for Yukon’s legal aid up to $2.1 million.
Legal Aid is funded through a combination of federal and territorial money.
This increase of about $500,000 is coming entirely from the territorial side of things. Federal money is currently frozen, meaning it will not be increased.
Before this increase, $864,000 of legal aid’s $1.639 million in core funding came from the federal government.
But lawyers with legal aid lobbied the government for more core funding.
They argued it is difficult to plan a year’s budget when they are dependant on top-ups every year.
A total of $435,000 in additional cash was given to the organization this past fiscal year. In April they were given $235,000 on top of $200,000 last October.
Legal aid was provided with an extra $180,000 in the 2010-11 year to cover high-cost cases before the courts. A year later the government gave another $235,000 in one-time funding to cover more cases.
Last October, Justice Minister Mike Nixon ordered his department to review legal aid’s budgetary needs.
In an interview yesterday, Nixon said increasing the budget was the right thing to do.
“We said all along that it’s important for the Yukon government to ensure that there’s access to justice for Yukoners. This seemed to be the best option to implement our government’s platform commitment to Yukoners to protect and support the family by offering and improving services to families engaged in the justice system.”