The South Asian Bar Association of Toronto (SABA) welcomes the announcement made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to commit to a one-time legal aid top up of $26.8 million for legal aid in Ontario to maintain
programming cut by the current Ontario Government.
The federal government is also allocating funds to other provinces, namely $1.16 million to British Columbia and $20,000 to Manitoba. This funding is on top of the $49.6 million allocated over three years for immigration and refugee legal aid that was announced by the federal government in this year’s federal budget.
Earlier this summer, SABA President Aaron Bains with board member and Co-Chair of the Advocacy Committee Sunira Chaudhri met with Minister of Justice David Lametti and his staff to discuss issues affecting vulnerable Canadians, including cuts to legal aid in Ontario. Aaron Bains and then Secretary (now Vice-President) Divya Khurana also met with staff at the Justice Department to discuss legal aid issues in Ottawa this past July.
Earlier this year, Ontario’s current conservative government cut Legal Aid Ontario’s budget by 30 per cent ($133 million), which included eliminating all funding for refugee and immigration law services. The one-time contribution by the federal government is to assist in refugee and immigration cases. Prime Minister Trudeau has stated that discussions will continue over the next year in order to maintain the services: “We will engage in reflection and conversations in the coming year about how to ensure long-term sustainability for legal aid for refugees and immigrants.”
South Asian Bar Association of Toronto