July 23, 2020
The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
RE: Legal Aid Funding Shortfalls Due to COVID-19
In August 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced the cuts made by the Ontario Progressive
Conservative government to legal aid. At that time, our government stepped up with $26.8 million to
ensure that legal aid services continued for immigrants and refugees in Ontario. This was an important
investment on top of previous investments in legal aid made by the federal government.
The Durham Community Legal Clinic provides free legal services to low-income individuals in the
Durham Region, including more than 4000 individuals in my riding of Whitby. These services are vital
and serve some of the most vulnerable people in our community.
Community Legal Clinics are funded by Legal Aid Ontario (LAO). LAO receives their funding through the
provincial government, as well as through the Law Foundation of Ontario. Funded through the interest
on the trust accounts of legal service providers, the Law Foundation of Ontario required by statute to
provide 75% of its funds to LAO. Given that these funds are generated through account interest, they
depend on economic activity and interest rates. COVID-19 has resulted in record low interest rates along
with decreased economic activity. This perfect storm has led to LAO anticipating a decrease between
The Durham Community Legal Clinic benefits residents in Whitby by providing legal services. Through its
community partnerships, the Durham Community Legal Clinic’s Access to Justice Hub provides free
wrap-around service delivery to residents. These services include free year-round tax filing, newcomer
services, employment and training support, support obtaining government ID, and support for people
living with brain injuries, among many other valuable services.
The Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario is requesting one-time funding from the federal
government to offset the anticipated shortfall from the Law Foundation of Ontario. This funding is
critical to protecting the legal rights of individuals in Whitby and therefore, I support this request.
Thank you for your consideration.
Member of Parliament for Whitby
CC: The Hon. Bill Morneau, P.C., M.P., Minister of Finance
Mr. Omar Ha-Redeye, Executive Director, Durham Community Legal Clinic
July 21, 2020
Mayor Don Mitchell
Town of Whitby
575 Rossland Road East
Whitby, ON L1N 2M8
Dear Your Worship:
I write to you with concern and disappointment regarding the delay of the vote on the implementation of the Green Development Standard.
As you know, climate change is the challenge of our time and given the current pandemic we have an opportunity to reinvent the way we do things. A green standard is an important step in making our community a green leader. I am hopeful that council will support the implementation of the Green Standard this fall.
I look forward to discussing this issue at our next available opportunity.
Member of Parliament for Whitby
CAO Matt Gaskell
Applications for the 2020/2021 term of the Whitby Constituency Youth Council (CYC) are now open! Apply today!
Our government believes that youth must play an important role in shaping the future of our country’s success, and Whitby’s Constituent Youth Council (CYC) is a wonderful opportunity for us to engage with young community members in Whitby!
The Whitby CYC is an initiative mean to engage citizens in our riding by organizing meetings and facilitating discussions and concrete actions on the issues that matter to them. The CYC is a great way to meet other young professionals, get involved with volunteer work in your community, gain some new experience and skills, and ensure your voice is being heard.
The Whitby CYC will execute its duties through 3 activities;
- Conducting research about local policy issues to present to the Member of Parliament in a professional format.
- Engaging in community outreach to create and maintain relationships and;
- Volunteering and organizing community support projects.
If you are interested in joining the Whitby CYC, please apply by following this link by 11:59 p.m. on July 31st, 2020.
June 25, 2020
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland
Privy Council Office
85 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A3
Dear Deputy Prime Minister Freeland,
We are writing to you, in our capacity as Members of Parliament representing ridings in the
Regional Municipality of Durham, in regards to the Region’s federal funding priorities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the delivery of public services by all levels of
government. Durham Region was no exception and they had to adapt with new, innovative
measures to ensure that workers, businesses and families are well protected. As an example,
the Region of Durham partnered with local child-care operators and home child-care agencies in
Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa, Clarington and Uxbridge to offer free emergency child care for
the children of front line and essential workers.
To support unsheltered residents, the Region of Durham also worked with community partners
to open the In/Out of The Crisis (IOTC) program at Camp Samac in Oshawa, Ontario. The
facility served as a temporary location to provide shelter for the homeless and is staffed 24
hours a day, seven days a week, with appropriate physical distancing measures and security to
protect vulnerable residents.
These are just a couple of the programs the Region of Durham has been able to offer it’s
residents. Unfortunately, the Region of Durham is currently facing a $40.5 million shortfall as a
result of COVID-19 related expenditures. To contain this impact, they’ve worked to build
community resilience and create a Regional Recovery Plan with opportunities to work in
partnership with the federal government.
In addition to their support of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) request for $10
billion in funding to be distributed to municipalities across Canada for emergency operations,
Durham Region’s policy priorities for federal partnership include:
- Transit Infrastructure: The Region is requesting that federal and provincial governments
expedite the approval of Investing in Canada Infrastructure (ICIP) projects.
- Supportive Housing: The Region is looking to partner with the federal government to
develop innovative housing solutions and enhance existing programs to support unsheltered
- Broadband Infrastructure: COVID-19 has highlighted the critical importance of universal
broadband infrastructure. Durham Region is looking to partner with the federal government to
access funding in support of their Broadband Strategy to bridge the digital divide in Durham.
- Environmental Sustainability: Durham Region is urging the federal government to
implement the zero-interest home retrofit loan program in 2020, and are looking to partner on
the Durham Forest Centre for Innovation and Resilience.
Further information and specific details regarding their funding priorities are found in the
We’d also note that these four priorities align strongly with our government’s core policy agenda.
Supporting transit and housing infrastructure, as well as implementing universal broadband
coverage by 2030 and protecting our environment from the devastating effects of climate
change have been major policy areas of focus over the past five years.
As Durham Region Members of Parliament, we support these funding requests, and urge you
work in partnership with the Region to deliver on our shared commitments to Canadians.
Hon. Mark Holland
A PDF copy of this letter can be found here.
June 20, 2020
Durham Regional Police Services Board
605 Rossland Road East
Whitby, ON L1N 0B8
Re: Use of Force Protocols and Anti-Racism Training
I write to express my concern regarding recent videos circulated demonstrating the unnecessary use of force by officers of the Durham Regional Police Service (“DPRS”). I have been sent these videos by dozens of constituents expressing their own concern.
I am aware that an initial review determined that the use of force was necessary in both circumstances, however I ask that a full review of all available evidence be conducted with a full report released to the public. Members of the community are rightly seeking clarification for the actions of these officers.
As the Prime Minister has said, unconscious bias exists within all aspects of the government, including in policing. I understand that the Durham Regional Police Service provides some training to its members regarding anti-racism and unconscious bias. I am requesting that the DPRS and Board review all anti-racism programs and unconscious bias training programs they provide for their members. In the interest of transparency, I urge such a report to be released to the public at the earliest possible opportunity.
I further request copies of any review or report that is conducted. This issue is very important to me and my constituents.
Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter.
Member of Parliament for Whitby
Dear Constituents and All Canadians,
I have always believed that we need to create a society that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion, and that we need to do everything we can to provide people of all backgrounds equal opportunity. The material conditions that people are born into are far from equal and the family, social and economic context that people navigate through are far from equitable.
The anti-Black racism we are seeing in the United States is beyond disturbing; it is morally reprehensible and yet we cannot pretend that forms of racism, discrimination and unconscious bias are not present in our society and within our communities in Canada. The experiences of many Black Canadians will attest to the fact that we have much work to do right here at home to address anti-black racism and discrimination in its many forms.
I hope we can all have the courage to admit that Canada is not immune to the racism we are seeing in the United States. Racism has been a part of Canada and systemic racism continues to exist within our institutions to this very day. Because our history has included forms of racism and discrimination does not mean that we must accept it; quite the contrary, we should strive to expose and eradicate it everywhere.
We all need to stand against racism in all its forms. We need to support Black and racialized people by creating safe and open spaces for them to share their experiences, which we can all learn much from. Their voices have been ignored for far too long. We need to do better and be true allies of the Black Community.
This is a unique moment in history and only we can choose where we go from here, but I believe Canada’s identity is one that is based on values of diversity, equity and inclusion, and what we need to do is to re-commit to realizing those shared values more fully.
Right now, the Black Community needs to know that we stand with them. This means amplifying the voices of Black and racialized people today and everyday moving forward. Now is a time to listen, educate ourselves, and learn from the lived experiences of Black Canadians and racialized people.
Black Lives Matter. All racialized people matter. It is up to us to demonstrate real and concrete action towards justice and equality. Let us open up this conversation in Canada and begin the journey of addressing the root causes of racism and discrimination, rather than living in denial.