Less free legal help for immigrants and refugees in Canada

Oscar Vigil

Toronto, Glen. The budget ax of the new Premier of the province of Ontario, conservative Doug Ford, keep doing yours. On this occasion the victims have been the new immigrants and refugees, who will no longer be served with free legal assistance from the provincial Legal Aid Ontario office (LAO).

The reason for this measure, that will seriously affect newcomers, is the cutout around the 30 percent of the provincial budget mandated by Doug Ford's conservative government in the province's general budget released last week.

In said budget, the Premier of the province, who has been in power for about nine months, makes important cuts also in the areas of education, health and social services, among others of the areas that are of provincial competence.

The Head of Legal Aid Ontario, David Field, He said the provincial government funding cut means the agency's attorneys will stop accepting most new clients., immigrants and refugees, starting this week.

Last week, in your budget for the fiscal year 2019-2020, the Conservative government eliminated legal aid funds for immigration and refugee law services, a movement that the organization's lawyers called a “horrible decimation”.

By describing the last steps as a “provisional measure”, Field said the organization would initiate public consultations to find the best way to address the outstanding financial shortfall..

“Without delay, we will conduct public consultations on these interim measures and ways to reduce costs, while providing high-quality service to as many customers as possible”, said Field.

“The consultations will also help us determine what services will resume if federal government funding increases for legal assistance to refugees in Ontario., as well as to provide comments on the provisional measures”, he added.

Meanwhile, the attorney general of the province, Caroline Mulroney, also a member of the Conservative Party, described the funding changes in a letter sent to Field last week, saying the province expects the federal government to fully fund immigration and refugee law services for cases before the federal courts or in Federal Court.

“But nevertheless, my ministry is eager to work with you to modernize the way these services are delivered within federal funding levels, and we are willing for LAO to use current provincial resources to transition to a system that is sustainable solely with federal funding.”, He said.

Matías De Dovitis, renowned community activist among the Latino population and Chief of Staff of a Toronto councilor, said that this action by Premier Doug Ford "confirms the contempt for citizen participation processes".

One of the most delicate issues with this budget, according to Matías De Dovitis, is that the ghost of privatization with this conservative government "has become a reality. If not, we must pay attention to the health issue with a super agency that will centralize almost everything ... for me that is bad because we are going to have worse and worse service, because there will be fewer nurses and fewer health professionals in the entire province ".

The cuts of the conservative Premier have generated a wave of criticism and protests on different fronts, A) Yes, De Dovitis says that “one of these most visible citizen exercises has been the case of thousands of high school students who spontaneously have organized to denounce the imminent budget and personnel cuts in hundreds of schools throughout the province., that is magnificent because it shows the power that these groups have against the political class ".

effectively, thousands of students, among them dozens of Latin American origin, They have taken to the streets to protest since the government announced cuts and adjustments at the college and university level as well as at the high school level..

But everything indicates that the results of this budget are just beginning to be visible. What is true is that, to the population most in need, especially immigrants and refugees, It will not be easy for them to adapt to Canadian society with the policies that this conservative government is implementing., who has approximately three more years left in charge of the executive in the province of Ontario.