Our Pitch to Santa (with the help of Aretha Franklin): Asking the Public to Support Legal Aid in Canada

Our Pitch to Santa (with the help of Aretha Franklin): Asking the Public to Support Legal Aid in Canada

Over the last few weeks, we have been asking what you might ask Santa – eloquently described in one response as “…the sublime intangible myth” – for Access to Justice in Canada in the new year. Our Letter to Santa is published at https://representingyourselfcanada.com/2014/12/15/dear-santa

In today’s blog we are publishing in full a letter to Santa written by Karen Hudson, QC, Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission and executive member of the Association of Legal Aid Plans of Canada.

Dear Santa,

Please send me Aretha Franklin for Christmas.

I need Aretha to sing for all Canadians: “R.E.S.P.E.C.T , find out what Legal Aid means to me”.

I need Aretha to sing ‘RESPECT’ for family legal aid services. Canadians should know that the primary consumers of legal aid family services are women and children. We help secure stability in custody, access and support situations. When help is provided, the economic advantages are enjoyed by all taxpayers.

Consider these studies: PriceWaterhouseCoopers, The Economic Value of Legal Aid ( for every dollar spent on family legal aid in Australia the government saves $1.60 to $2.25); Task Force, Report to the Chief Judge of NY State (for every dollar spent on civil legal aid in NY , there is a return to the government of $5)

Legal Aid Plans also need RESPECT for social justice services: help with problems surrounding income and housing security. Only a few of our provincial Legal Aid plans provide this help – Nova Scotia is one of them.  We know that when there is insecurity in these issues, there are more intersections with family and criminal justice systems and the further entrenchment of poverty.

Think about this study from the UK , Towards a Business Case for Legal Aid, from the Citizens Advice Bureau (for every dollar spent on helping citizens with housing, debt, benefits and employment legal aid, the government savings is between $2.33 to $8.79).

Canadians need to hear Aretha sing ‘RESPECT’ for the desire of Legal Aid plans across Canada to increase help for the working poor. Nothing slows down justice systems like unrepresented accused. Self-represented litigants in family and civil courts often suffer worse outcomes, or simply give up.

Legal Aid Plans can mean more access to more justice for more Canadians. If only Aretha could sing a little louder for all Canadians who struggle through criminal, family and social justice problems without the RESPECT they need.

Many Legal Aid plans have no PR budget, no PR person, no PR training. So please Santa, send us Aretha Franklin. Because Canadians should know that Legal Aid plans are value for money. We make a difference.





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