Between May 23 and June 16, 2017, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) held a series of in-person and online consultations sessions to address the possible need to temporarily suspend some refugee services.
LAO asked for feedback and ideas on what the organization could do to achieve savings while still meeting the needs of as many refugee clients as possible.
A summary of these consultations' emerging themes is available here as well as feedback from individual sessions.
Given the increased demand for refugee services, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) consulted on the possibility of temporary service suspensions.
The consultation paper, Refugee and Immigration Law Services - Service Suspensions Consultation, provided a starting point for discussion.
Between May 23 and June 16, LAO held a series of in-person and online consultation sessions. During this period:
- Eight public consultations were held province-wide. 82 participants registered and attended.
- Four additional invite only consultations with participants were held with individual organizations/community groups
- Written submissions were also encouraged and accepted. Sixteen submissions were received from individuals and/on behalf of organizations
What follows is a brief overview of what LAO heard from participants. The comments and feedback outlined are not intended to be all encompassing - rather, they are intended to reflect some of the key themes and most commonly raised comments heard across the province.
The following are general themes that emerged from the feedback we received from consultation sessions and written submissions.
- All refugee and immigration legal aid services are essential and safeguard important client rights.
- LAO needs to find the money to continue to provide these services, either from within its budget, from the government, or from program changes to increase cost-effectiveness and efficiency.
- Refugees will be disproportionately impacted by these suspension when compared to other legal aid clients.
- Prioritization of refugee and immigration services should be based on individual client rights protection and not proceeding type.
- LAO should provide coverage in all areas where S. 7 Charter rights-life and liberty-are engaged.
- Suspension of services by proceeding type will result in serious and possibly irreparable harm to refugees and immigrants.
- Suspension of services may be subject to human rights and Charter challenges.
- Some legal aid applicants may be able to contribute to the cost of their proceedings.
- There is opportunity to enhance financial and merit screening of legal aid applicants.
- Refugee Protection Division coverage remains a core service that engages life and liberty.
- Community settlement agencies and clinics are at capacity and do not have the resources or in some cases, legal knowledge and expertise, to provide these essential services.
Consultation session feedback
- May 25, 2017: Hamilton-Kitchener district office
- May 29, 2017: LAO provincial office (Toronto)
- May 30, 2017: Essex Lambton & Kent district office
- May 31, 2017: London district office
- June 5, 2017: Ottawa district office
- June 7, 2017: LAO provincial office (Toronto)
- June 8, 2017: LAO provincial office (Toronto) - session for coalation of refugee housing providers
- June 8, 2017: LAO provincial office (Toronto)
- June 12, 2017: LAO provincial office (Toronto)
- June 14, 2017: LAO provincial office (Toronto)
- June 15, 2017: LAO provincial office (Toronto)
Please submit your questions about this consultation to RefConsult2017@lao.on.ca.
Monday, June 26, 2017