The Law Society of Manitoba sets up Canada’s first program to provide free help for people who cannot afford lawyers. Lawyers volunteer their time, but demand for legal services grows rapidly and lawyers quickly become overburdened with cases.
In response to the increasing demand for free legal help, a roster of private bar lawyers are paid $50 per day to act as Legal Aid Duty Counsel at criminal intake court.
Legal aid becomes a legislated program in Manitoba in 1971. It opens its doors to clients in 1972.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms spurs the creation of the Public Interest Law Centre to take on cases that affect groups of Manitobans, such as poverty law and human rights cases.
Legal Aid Manitoba pioneers the Agreement to Pay program, an innovative approach to help the working poor, who are sometimes deemed to have enough money to pay for part or all of their legal fees. The program provides lawyers to those who agree to pay back Legal Aid on a monthly plan.
Legal Aid Manitoba increases its financial eligibility guidelines, making its services the most accessible among Canada’s legal aid plans for a single person and for all family sizes.
Legal Aid Manitoba has offices in Winnipeg, Brandon, Dauphin, The Pas and Thompson. Staff and private bar lawyers contracted by Legal Aid Manitoba travel to more than 40 rural and northern communities on a regular basis. Approximately 190 provincial employees work with LAM to provide assistance on a formal or informal basis to approximately 90,000 Manitobans annually.