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Refugee Legal Aid Cuts Click to Call

    STOP LEGAL AID CUTS

    Legal aid for immigrants and refugees in Ontario has been abruptly cut, leading to a human rights crisis.

    Take Action→ Make an urgent call 

    Background 

    The Ontario Government’s recent cuts to Legal Aid Ontario will deepen the access to justice crisis in this province and should concern everyone who cares about living in a society rooted in human rights and justice.  

    For immigrants and refugees who need legal assistance, the effects of the cuts are being felt already - funding for legal aid was cut immediately after the announcement was made. This was done because Ontario wants the Federal Government to pay for legal aid for refugee and immigration matters, but the lives of immigrants and refugees should not be used as a bargaining chip between different levels of government.  Legal proceedings in refugee and immigration cases are high-stakes, literally involving matters of life and death in some cases. These proceedings are also very complex, which is why access to representation by a trained lawyer is so important. We urgently need the Federal Government to work with the Government of Ontario to find a new funding formula and resolve this crisis. 

    Legal Aid provides Ontarians living below the poverty line (annual income under $17,000/year) with access to a lawyer. Until April 16, 2019 Legal Aid Services were available for: 

    • Refugee claimants to prepare for hearings, as well as meritorious appeals;  
    • Humanitarian applications;  
    • Immigration detention hearings;  
    • Permanent Residents facing removal from Canada 

    Refugee and immigration services covered a small portion of the over Legal Aid Ontario budget 

    Things you should know when calling your MP:  

    • Cuts were made abruptly, and have caused significant representation gaps for people facing refugee hearings, the possibility of removal from Canada, and immigration detention; 
    • There are likely people in their own riding who will be impacted by these cuts, the absence of legal aid will cause and increased burden on MP offices.  
    • Unrepresented claimants will cause significant delays in the immigration and court systems. Since most claimants do not have the expertise to navigate our complex legal system.  
    • The federal government needs to urgently resolve this funding crisis with the provincial government so that no claimants are unfairly removed from Canada or held in immigration detention.  

    How this works

    To phone your local Member of Parliament click the yellow MAKE THE CALL button. 

    • You will receive a phone call at the number you provided and then you will be connected to your MP’s office.  

    • You might not reach your MP directly. You might reach a staff member or an answering machine. Ask them to pass your message on to your MP. 

    • You don’t need to say more than a few words to let your MP know that you are concerned and want them to do advocate to solve the legal aid funding crisis.  

    • If you get a busy signal, that means that your MP is hearing from lots of other people like you. Be sure to try again later.  

    REMEMBER: Lots of people feel nervous about calling an authority. Your MP’s office receives calls all day from members of the public about issues relevant to their portfolio. So don’t be shy! Your phone call will make an enormous difference and help your MP understand that this should be a priority. 

    Here is a simple message for you to say: 

    My name is _____ and I live at (your address) in your riding.  Recent cuts to legal aid for refugee and immigration issues by the Ontario Government have left people without representation at high stakes immigration and refugee proceedings. This could lead to people being unfairly deported or held in immigration detention. I urge you to prioritize this issue with your caucus, so that the Federal Government can work with the Ontario Government to resolve this funding crisis.  

    If you wish to use your own words instead of using our sample script, here are some key points to mention: 

    • Your name and address. 

    • Recent cuts to legal aid by the Ontario government have left refugees and immigrants who require legal assistance without representation at high stakes immigration and refugee proceedings.  

    • These cuts could lead to people being deported or held in immigration detention, without fully accessing their legal rights.  

    • The Federal Government needs to work with the Government of Ontario to resolve this funding crisis, so that no more vulnerable people fall through the gaps.  

    • Therefore, I call on you to_______________________.