Staff at the Saskatoon office of Legal Aid have more than enough work and could use extra help and instead is dealing with layoffs.
That’s according to the vice-president of CUPE local 1949, which represents Legal Aid lawyers and administrative staff.
Deb Hopkins said six Legal Aid employees in the Saskatoon office were given layoff notices this week and three lawyer positions within the organization are not being filled, while thousands of files are being farmed out to private lawyers.
Two eligibility officer jobs will move to a call centre being set up in Regina.
Hopkins explained that these officers have first point-of-contact with clients, so instead of dealing with Legal Aid in the closest community, they will be dealing with a centralized call centre.
Hopkins believes contracting out the Legal Aid work and privatization will have a negative impact on their clients, who are the most vulnerable and marginalized people in the province.
Meanwhile, NDP Justice Critic Nicole Sarauer is calling for the resignation of Justice Minister Don Morgan.
“These comments from the bench speak to the seriousness of the resourcing problems at the Saskatoon Legal Aid office,” said Sarauer. “The Sask. Party government’s Minister of Justice is responsible for making sure Legal Aid has the resources it needs to advocate for vulnerable people. It’s clear from these comments that he is failing. At the very least, Don Morgan needs to make sure that Legal Aid has the resources to refill those positions and fill the vacancies they already have. If Don Morgan can’t or won’t commit to that, he needs to resign.”
With files from CJWW