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August 8, 2001


Minister announces pilot project on Legal Family Aid in Central Newfoundland

Kelvin Parsons, Minister of Justice and Sandra C. Kelly, Minister of Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education and MHA - Gander, today announced a special project for Legal Aid Family Services in Central Newfoundland.

The pilot project will extend an integrated Family Justice Service across Newfoundland, including the Unified Family, Eastern, and the newly opened Family Justice Services, Western Newfoundland.

"The objectives of the pilot project are threefold," said Minister Parsons. "We hope to use the project information to assist the federal and provincial governments establish national policies on legal aid. We also hope to examine ways of addressing unmet needs for legal aid services, and we want to look into ways of improving the quality and cost-effectiveness of family and other civil legal services through traditional and alternative delivery mechanisms."

The cooperative venture with Justice Canada, Department of Justice of Newfoundland and Labrador, Legal Aid Commission, and the Department of Human Resources and Employment has received initial funding of $63,000; with an additional $125,000 in the next fiscal year. At the end of the 18 month period a full assessment will be completed which will evaluate the project outcomes and identify the needs within the area and the benefits to be gained by sustaining funding for the service.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for the Gander area to play an important role in deciding the future direction of legal services in the province," said Minister Kelly. "This project will provide families who require legal services with a more cost-efficient and effective alternate resolution, without having to go through the traditional court setting. This initiative will also address some of the concerns identified by the Gander Status of Women Council in their study of legal aid services in the province."

A duty counsellor/mediator and case management officer will be hired to work in the courts in Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor providing legal services, including mediation and education and support services. The project will be managed by a steering committee comprising representatives from the Courts, Legal Aid, HRE(Human Resources and Employment), the local Bar, Health and Community Services, and will span two fiscal years.

The project will provide educational workshops on family law and parenting issues; mediation for custody, access, child support and spousal support; and assistance with the court process for families in the Gander area. 

Media contact: 
Edwina Bateman, Communications, (709) 729-6985
Janice Lockyer, Communications, (709) 729-5730

2001 08 08                                                 12:05 p.m.

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