Ian Mulgrew: Legal tax is the elephant in legal aid debate | Vancouver Sun, 9 November

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“The continued imposition of the special tax on legal services, which is not applied to any other professional services, is not only being diverted from its intended purpose, but it’s actually making access to just even more challenging…. Every time someone hires a lawyer to help them, they are required to pay the seven per cent special tax. This makes it all the more expensive for people who are struggling to hire a lawyer to help them.”- Michael Mulligan, LRWC member.

“Victoria raked in $210.6 million last year from the PST on legal services, yet it provided only about $75 million to legal aid (not including the federal transfer of about $16 million for criminal legal aid).

“The province now spends on legal aid less than half the money milked from the profession as more and more individuals and families fall through gaping holes in the social safety net…

“The tax was introduced in 1992 by the NDP finance minister of the day, Glen Clark, who implied the money would be used to fund legal aid.

“… The money was never “officially” designated to support legal aid….

“The Opposition Liberals throughout the 1990s loudly complained about such blatant fiscal sleight of hand, insisting the tax was supposed to be for legal services…

“Geoff Plant, then the justice critic, thundered there really was something wrong with a government collecting all this money specifically intended to fund legal aid and then failing to do so — the socialist scoundrels!

“…when Plant became attorney general he continued the insidious practice [and] slashed legal aid funding by more than 40 per cent, precipitating the current generation-long crisis that has hurt the most vulnerable — First Nations, women, children, the indigent and the needy.

“Yet every attorney general for a quarter century has defended this legerdemain. – [see the full story]