The head of Legal Aid Ontario says a funding cut from the provincial government means the agency’s lawyers will stop accepting most new immigration and refugee clients beginning Tuesday.
Legal Aid CEO David Field says in a memo to staff today that the province has told the agency it can only use federal funding to cover new immigration and refugee services this year.
That federal funding totals between $13 million and $16.5 million, short of Legal Aid Ontario’s projected costs of between $30 million to $34 million on the services for the year.
A government spokesman says the federal government should fulfill its responsibility to newcomers by shouldering the costs of such cases.
Field says the agency will honour clients who are already being served and will help some additional clients in limited circumstances.
In its budget last week, the Progressive Conservative government eliminated the legal aid funding for refugee and immigration law services – a move lawyers with the organization called a “horrific” decimation.