A Review of Brydges Duty Counsel Services in Canada

8. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS

8.1 Impact of the Brydges Case on provincial legal aid services

Although the Supreme Court of Canada has unequivocally declined to impose a constitutional duty upon the provinces to implement (what have come to be known as) Brydges services,” it was found in the present research project that eight provinces have indeed established such services on a formal basis. In these provinces detained persons are provided with access to Brydges duty counsel through a centralized 24 hour telephone system or a regular roster of lawyers available by telephone. Nevertheless, it was also revealed that the implementation of Brydges services across Canada has, by no means, been uniform. In Alberta, Brydges services have not been implemented on a formal basis - instead, lawyers who work on a volunteer basis, accept telephone calls after hours. Similarly, in Prince Edward Island, there is neither a formal nor an informal system for the provision of Brydges services after hours.

A major finding of the present research project is that participants emphasized the view that there is a need to formally implement Brydges services in every jurisdiction, and that these services should be accessible, province-wide, through a toll-free telephone number. The following table provides a brief overview of the types of Brydges services that are offered by the ten provinces examined in this project:

Table 9 The Provision of Brydges Services: A Provincial Outlook
Province Brydges services Method of delivering Brydges services Who provides Brydges services?
Alberta Yes A roster of lawyers volunteering to be on duty to provide Brydges services for adults has been organized. Brydges service for youth is provided by staff lawyers in Calgary and Edmonton. Private lawyers.
British Columbia Yes A 24-hour Brydges telephone line has been implemented. Private lawyers/agency has been contracted to provide service 24 hours a day.
Manitoba Yes A 24-hour Brydges telephone line has been implemented. A combination of private lawyers and staff lawyers provide this service.
New Brunswick Yes A roster of lawyers provides 24-hour Brydges services over the phone and get paid per call. Private lawyers - except in Edmonston where staff lawyers provide this service.
Nfld. Yes A 24 hour Brydges telephone has been implemented. Staff lawyers.
Nova Scotia Yes 1. Regular hours: Local legal aid telephone line provides Brydges services. 2. After hours: A Brydges telephone line has been implemented. 1. Regular hours: Staff lawyers. 2. After hours: Private lawyers.
Ontario Yes A 24-hour Brydges telephone line has been implemented. Private lawyers/agency has been contracted to provide service 24 hours a day.
Prince Edward Island Yes, but only during regular hours. 1. Regular hours: Local legal aid telephone line 2. After hours: There is no formal Brydges service. 1. Regular hours: Staff lawyers. 2. After hours: Any lawyer who accepts a call.
Quebec Yes A 24-hour Brydges telephone line has been implemented. Staff lawyers.
Sask. Yes 1. Regular hours: Local legal aid telephone number. 2. After hours: A Brydges telephone line has been implemented. A combination of private and staff lawyers provide this service.

Source: Legal aid providers interviewed during this research project.

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