On Wednesday, June 26th, I will be asking my colleagues at Council to support my motion regarding the negative downstream effects the provincial legal aid funding cuts will have on city of Ottawa budget.
The Community Legal Services of Ottawa is committed to upholding the rights of the most vulnerable people of Ottawa in obtaining access to basic needs. Provincial budget cuts to Legal Aid Ontario will have a severe impact on the ability of Community Legal Services of Ottawa to provide essential services to our most vulnerable population. The Community Legal Services of Ottawa has been providing services to Ottawa residents for over 31 years. They have assisted residents in various matters such as the following:
- Tenant Duty Counsel Service at the Landlord and Tenant Board (where in 2018 they assisted more than 1,400 tenants),
- Housing Law Assistance (where in 2018 they also provided legal assistance to a further 1,350 tenants),
- Disability Law Assistance (including representing clients on tribunal appeals when their applications for disability benefits are denied), and
- Immigration Law Assistance (where in 2018 they assisted 977 individuals and families)
Financial cuts to our Community Legal Services will result in long-term consequences to our City and its residents. Lack of proper legal assistance and access to justice will further burden the Social Services and Affordable Housing sector of the City.
In my motion, I call upon the Province of Ontario to make a commitment to access to justice; to respect the commitment of their Government to not decrease front line legal aid services; and to confirm that funding for community legal clinics will not be decreased and further burden the City of Ottawa’s resources.