Legal aid ping pong harms vulnerable refugee claimants

Published in The Lawyer's Daily on August 21, 2019

In its spring budget, the Ontario government cut Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) funding by $133 million and said it will no longer provide provincial funds for refugee and immigration cases. LAO is mandated to promote access to justice for refugee claimants among other vulnerable Ontarians.

The cuts would mean that claimants would have been denied timely representation by legal counsel. Their inability to access representation would have jeopardized their refugee claims to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) because it is a complicated process that requires knowledge of the Canadian legal system. It would have resulted in inefficiency, backlogs and disruption in the administration of justice.