Petition to reverse the cuts to Legal Aid Ontario funding
On April 11, with the release of the Budget, the Government of Ontario made a significant cut of approximately one third of all legal aid funding, which will jeopardize the rights of those who need legal representation the most.
Many refugee claimants arrive in Canada with almost nothing. Many are dealing with the aftermath of extreme personal trauma and struggle with PTSD, depression or other mental health issues as a result of the events that caused them to leave their homes and countries of origin. Often with little to no English, and even less legal knowledge, they are required to file legal forms, collect evidence, and appear in a hearing to test their claim. They are not equipped to represent themselves in Canada’s refugee determination system, a highly specialized legal field. This is why Legal Aid funding is so essential to protect the rights of such a vulnerable population and to ensure that their full story is heard by a refugee decision-maker through providing access to legal representation.
Access to Legal Aid is also essential to low-income Ontarians who are facing legal proceedings such as in criminal, family, mental health, poverty law and child protection cases. These Ontarians will struggle to navigate these legally complex, high-stakes proceedings without legal assistance or resources.
The impact of these cuts is huge. Vulnerable populations like refugees are left to represent themselves in a complex and already overburdened legal system, where a negative decision leads to deportation to countries where lives may be at risk. The cuts will lead to backlogs and delays throughout the justice system, causing chaos in the courts and costing taxpayers more, not less.
URGENT! Sign your name to the petition now – let the Government of Ontario know that you care about funding to Legal Aid and are concerned about how it will impact the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in our society, including refugees and immigrants in Ontario.
Contact your MPP and MP now:
Federal MP: http://www.ourcommons.ca/Parliamentarians/en/constituencies/FindMP
Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) & Refugee Lawyers Association of Ontario (RLA)