Letter to Minister Lametti on Legal Aid Funding

Ryan Turnbull Member of Parliament

July 23, 2020

The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Minister:

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
$60-$70 million.

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.

Yours sincerely,

Ryan Turnbull
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

Posted in Advocacy, News.