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The Impact Of The Government Of Ontario’s Cuts To Legal Aid
Nava Wilson LLP was proud to be a Legal Partner for the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario and West Scarborough Community Legal Services' Tamil Community Town Hall. This event focused on the impact of the Ontario Government cuts to Legal Aid and the particular impact on marginalized communities.
The lively town hall took place on Friday, July 19th from 6 to 8:30 pm at the Scarborough Civic Centre. At the event our Senior Partner Malliha Wilson discussed the impact cuts against legal aid will have on the Tamil and marginalized communities as a whole. Below you’ll find highlights from her remarks:
“Recently, the Ontario government announced funding reductions to the provincial legal aid system which have a significant impact on legal aid clinics. There seems to be an underlying assumption that the private sector legal system will and should step in to pick up the slack. There is no doubt that there are many dedicated private sector lawyers who do pro bono work. However, the private sector is based on a profit model. There may be pro bono work done but, in the end, a private sector lawyer has to make a living. The funding cuts to legal aid clinics simply cannot be offset by the private sector stepping in.
The end result is a serious access to justice issue for the vulnerable and marginalized in our province. A large number of new Canadians fall into this category. Without a clinic system, they will often not be able to partake of the benefits of our democratic society, based on the rule of law and access to justice for all. How can it be said that new Canadians should go to a private sector lawyer and hope that they will take their case. It is not a simple matter to find a lawyer, let alone a lawyer who will do pro bono work and one who has expertise in poverty law.
Finally, clinic lawyers do not confine themselves to providing legal services when a client comes to them with an issue. There are proactive in their communities. They engage in legal education so that members of their clinic communities are aware of their legal rights. This promotes a society that is grounded in the rule of law, empowers the vulnerable and marginalized and assists new Canadians to make the transition to a mature democracy such as ours.”
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