Toronto is furious about Ontario government's cuts to legal aid
Legal Aid Ontario is planning on cutting $1 million of Toronto legal clinic funding in response to the provincial government’s $133 million-cut to the legal aid system.
Some legal professionals believe Toronto clinics were targeted because of Ford's “unquenchable antipathy towards the City of Toronto,” Lenny Abramowicz, executive director of the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario stated today.
Since low-income people are moving outside of the city, the funding must follow this demographic change, an LAO official said in a press conference this morning. Toronto clinics that are located in close proximity will share resources.
Legal Aid Ontario helps some of Ontario’s most vulnerable citizens access justice. The cuts brought down by the Doug Ford government will directly impact the livelihood of clients, particularly low-income individuals and refugees.— Nathalie Des Rosiers (@NDesRosiers) June 12, 2019
Legal aid funding in the city will be based on the low-income population in each facility’s vicinity. On average, each clinic in Toronto will experience a six per cent cut.
Parkdale clinic cuts will be slightly different. Because the neighbourhood’s low income community has shrunk over the last 50 years, if the slash to their budget remained the same as the other clinics, Parkdale's funding would be reduced $1.8 million from their $2.3 million budget. Instead, LAO is cutting its funding by $1 million over two years.
“This was a really difficult exercise,” Jayne Mallin, LAO vice president said. “We recognize that there’s value in systemic work because it creates efficiencies.”
This will result in thousands more (presumed innocent) people being detained for months or years pending their trials. Which will result in an inordinate number of people pleading guilty to things they didn’t do just to get out of jail, which is what studies have shown happens.— Alison Craig (@lawandchocolate) June 12, 2019
Attorney General Caroline Mulroney assured Ontarians that these cuts would not impact client services. But, ACLCO co-chair Gary Newhouse says those statements are now proven false.
“As predicted, the cuts imposed on clinics today will have major impact on clinical law services, and on low income people in Ontario,” Newhouse added.
I just received an email from Legal Aid Ontario outlining massive slashes to funding for client services. I will no longer be able to afford to accept legal aid clients except for CAS matters unfortunately. This is going to hurt a lot of people Mr. Premier @fordnation.— Eric Vallillee (@LondonOntLawyer) June 12, 2019
In April, the province cut 30 per cent of LAO funding. Effects were immediately implemented, despite the 2019 legal budget being finalized. The Ontario government additionally mandated that no provincial money could be used to cover immigration and refugee law.
“The fact that the cuts were targeted in this way, and not simply applied across the board, demonstrates that they are motivated by politics,” Lenny Abramowicz, executive director of ACLCO, said.
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