Responses to recent media enquiries
Legal Aid Ontario outlines planning for potential Tamil refugee claimants
September 8, 2010
Legal Aid Ontario provided the following information to Lawyers’ Weekly, in response to an equiry received September 1, 2010.
How will Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) deal with [the recent Tamil migrants who are currently in B.C.] if they come here? Is LAO planning any special measures?
We have formed a special internal group that will be examining the situation. The special internal LAO group has consulted with B.C.’s Legal Services Society (LSS) and they will also be consulting with the federal government. We will determine our next steps in the coming days and weeks.
Will these Tamils be eligible for legal aid services, including certificates? How much will it cost LAO?
LAO’s Refugee Law Office (RLO) will be coordinating activities with B.C.’s Legal Services Society. If any of the Tamil migrants come to Ontario, the RLO will be positioned to provide legal services to these claimants as a group. Claimants whose personal circumstances warrant private counsel will be referred to the certificate program. Claimants who apply to the legal aid certificate program must satisfy our financial eligibility test.
As part of LAO's internal review, is there the possibility of requesting extra funding for this situation from the federal and/or provincial government?
There is nothing precluding LAO asking for additional funds for special circumstances, but normally we prefer to exhaust all operational options that may exist within our current allocations to address situations such as this one.
Has there been much in the way of lawyers calling to offer their services pro bono, or is it too early for that yet? Mark Benton [Executive Director of Legal Service Society] says B.C. would use the pro bono work first, before dipping into LSS-funded lawyers.
It’s still too early. We wouldn’t expect to hear about that until there is a much clearer picture of the potential demand for legal services here.
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