I’m writing to you because, as you have heard, the government of Ontario is cutting the funding to Legal Aid Ontario by $133 million this year. It’s a huge cut to Legal Aid Ontario, which funds legal clinics across Ontario. The cut is extremely disturbing. We don’t know yet how it will affect Ottawa’s legal clinics but, no matter what, it will have a direct negative impact on access to legal services that your clients often need.

Ottawa’s legal clinics assist the most vulnerable people in Ottawa to preserve their basic essentials: keeping stable housing and avoiding eviction; maintaining income support benefits so people can support their families with the basics; and resolving complex immigration legal issues. Our staff lawyers and paralegals represent clients in tribunals and courts every day. Our legal clinics are small offices, all community-based. We have no bureaucracy or administration to trim. No “efficiencies” could make up for huge cuts in funding. Like you, we are non-profit organizations with modest budgets, governed by volunteer boards of directors.

Studies show that every dollar retracted from legal aid leads to a $3-5 increase in other areas of government expenditure, such as homelessness, health, family breakdown and incarceration.

Action you can take: The government and the Premier made a commitment that no cuts would be made to front-line services. However, if this budget cut happens, it will certainly have a direct impact on front-line legal services. I am calling on the Attorney General to respect the government’s commitment not to decrease front line services, and to confirm that funding for community clinics will not be decreased.
I am asking for your assistance. Please consider the following actions:

  1. Please contact the Ottawa MPPs and express your concern. It’s especially important that the Progressive Conservative MPPs hear from you. Tell them about the work that Ottawa’s legal clinics have done for your clients. Explain how a cut to Legal Aid Ontario will have a serious impact on the legal clinics’ work in resolving your clients’ legal issues.
  2. Please sign this petition calling on the Ontario government to stop the Legal Aid cuts: https://www.stoplegalaidcuts.ca.
  3. Please share this blog post within your organization.

Thank you very much for your support,

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