The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) and the Refugee Lawyers Association (RLA) of Ontario congratulate and applaud Prime Minister Trudeau for today’s announcement addressing the refugee and immigration legal aid crisis in Ontario, and increasing refugee and immigration legal aid funding across the country.
“Refugees and immigrants in Ontario have been facing a crisis,” said Maureen Silcoff, President of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL), “The Ontario government abruptly cancelled the refugee and immigration legal aid program in April 2019. No one who is facing torture in a repressive regime, no woman who ran away from severe domestic violence in a country without protections, no LGBTQ2S individual who fled to save her life, should be subject to high-stakes legal proceedings without legal counsel.”
“Canada’s complex refugee system is nearly impossible to navigate without legal representation – all the more so for individuals who arrive in Canada with nothing, who are traumatized,” said Raoul Boulakia, a member of the Refugee Lawyers Association of Ontario’s Executive, “timely restoration of legal aid funding was critical to protect vulnerable individuals. We welcome today’s announcement”.
“The legal aid system is essential to the refugee and immigration systems. The funding crisis that resulted from Ontario’s reckless cuts created an untenable situation,” said Maureen Silcoff, President of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL). “The province still has a critical role to play in funding legal aid services – and we hope they will step up to their responsibilities, be it in this fiscal year or next.”
“Funding for legal aid’s immigration and refugee program has always been shared between the provincial and federal governments. The Ford government’s reckless cuts left vulnerable people in crisis.” said Raoul Boulakia, a member of the Refugee Lawyers Association of Ontario’s Executive, “we applaud this announcement from the federal government, which is right to step in to avoid such irreparable harm to immigrants and refugees.”
Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has traditionally provided Ontarians living below the poverty line of $17,000 in annual income with access to a lawyer for meritorious refugee and immigration cases.
On April 11, 2019, the Government of Ontario told LAO it could not use provincial money for any refugee and immigration cases.
Erin Simpson – firstname.lastname@example.org 416-363-1696 ext. 103 647-406-1341