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For Immediate Release, April 23, 2019
LAO Cuts
As part of the recently released Provincial budget, the Ontario Government has announced a $133 million decrease in Legal Aid funding. This is a significant cut and amounts to approximately 30% of Legal Aid Ontario’s annual funding. While the government is yet to provide further details of where the cuts will be aimed, the government has confirmed that it will be eliminating its entire funding for immigration and refugee services, which receive approximately $13-$16 million dollars each year.
SABA Toronto strongly opposes these cuts. We are concerned about the disproportionate impact that these cuts will have on low income communities across the province, including South Asians, who rely on this funding to seek access to justice. These cuts could mean a significant reduction in front-line Legal Aid services that play crucial roles in supporting vulnerable communities. It is distressing that these cuts target immigrant and refugee communities which make up some of the most disadvantaged and helpless members of our population. Providing them with no recourse to Legal Aid creates a risk that these members will be unable to access the justice system and obtain even basis level legal services.
SABA Toronto will be closely monitoring the cuts to Legal Aid and will be working to advocate against the disproportionate impact on marginalized and ethnic communities. We call on all of our allies and community partners to do the same and to unite in their commitment to ensure access to justice for all Ontarians regardless of their socioeconomic background.