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New legal clinic offers support to Prince George residents

Attorney General David Eby, Amber Mueller, and Josh Paterson, executive director, Law Foundation of B.C. Bill Phillips photo

Amber Mueller was having a dispute with her landlord.

She didn’t know where to turn, but she did need some help. She turned to a new legal clinic in Prince George which opened in January and is operated by Active Support Against Poverty.

“(They were) able to help me with some appeals,” she said. “That was really helpful for me … I was not in a good place, but we were able to get a stay and buy some time … Now we’re in a new home and it worked out for us.”

The clinic does not handle criminal cases. It deals strictly with poverty law, such as landlord/tenancy work, WCB claims, pension and EI issues and more.

“It is something that is needed in town,” said Mueller. “I was very thankful that I got the help that I did.”

Attorney General David Eby visited the clinic (1188 Sixth Avenue) on Friday to announce a $250,000 grant for the clinic to operate. More funding may be available depending on the need.

Attorney General David Eby

“I’m firmly of the belief that all British Columbians deserve access to justice,” said Attorney General David Eby. “In particular there are a lot of very vulnerable people in our communities who haven’t had access to basic legal resources to assist them through what can be really complicated processes that have really gave implications for their lives.”

This is part of a network of legal clinics funded by government that provide opportunities for articled students, junior lawyers, to become more experienced and provide support for senior lawyers.

“Legal clinics can provide a huge array of services, especially where they are ground with a lawyer and with support staff, which is exactly what’s happening here,” said Eby.

Active Support Against Poverty’s mission is to act as a guide for the empowerment, education and self-determination of clients from Prince George and the surrounding areas. The new funding will enable the organization to hire a lawyer and trained legal staff who can offer legal advice and act as counsel in proceedings.

Grants will be awarded through the Law Foundation of British Columbia, a non-profit organization mandated to fund legal education, legal research, legal aid, law reform and law libraries for the benefit of British Columbians. The foundation will provide the new legal clinic with coaching, tools and support to enhance the services it provides.

“They will provide publicly-funded lawyer services for complex matters that are really difficult for people to sort out in their lives,” said Josh Paterson, executive director, Law Foundation of B.C. “Legal clinics are places that people come to, often at the worst moment in their life.”

Audrey Schwartz, executive director, Active Support Against Poverty, said they are proud to have been selected for the funding.

“The work we do in service of the Prince George community helps people obtain the services they need in a timely and expedited fashion,” she said. “This grant will allow us to expand our efforts and help even more of our neighbours who are in need.”

The clinic has seen almost 20 clients since it opened its doors a couple of months ago.

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