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This article was published 31/8/2016 (1198 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Justice Minister Heather Stefanson is speeding up access to Legal Aid Manitoba.
The change announced Wednesday will help lower-income Manitobans, Stefanson said.
"Access to justice for all Manitobans is a cornerstone of our legal system and this change will help improve the process for individuals who require legal aid," Stefanson said. "Technology has made it possible for this process to move more quickly."
To connect a new client with a lawyer, Legal Aid Manitoba uses an electronic application system that securely shares the individual’s application, court documents and any other relevant materials. Lawyers previously had 30 days to decide whether to accept the case; the province is cutting that period to 14.
This change was made following consultations with Legal Aid Manitoba's advisory committee, which includes representatives from the Criminal Defence Lawyers’ Association, the Legal Aid Lawyers’ Association, the Family Law Bar and the Manitoba Bar Association.
The agency has offices in Winnipeg, Brandon, Dauphin, The Pas and Thompson and provides legal advice and representation to eligible low-income people and groups. About half of its cases are handled by lawyers on staff. The others go to private-practice lawyers, who are paid a per-case fee.
About 85,000 Manitobans receive Legal Aid Manitoba's help every year. The province contributes the largest portion of the agency's operating funds, $27.5 million in the 2016-17 budget.
Updated on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 at 12:24 PM CDT: Adds photo