A Legal Aid Ontario lawyer submitted this story about helping a poor pensioner named Dennis (name changed to protect privacy) get access to his hard-earned Canada Pension Plan (CPP) cheque that would help him live in dignity:
An older gentleman named Dennis* needed help when he realized his CPP was cut in half at retirement due to outstanding child support he did not know he owed. Dennis was very poor and the matter had to be dealt with in another town because there never was a final order on the child support decision, only a temporary one, and you can't move those. He had no money to travel to the town where his order originated. The arrears Dennis was accused of owing were in error - the child had gone into Children's Aid Society care long ago and then the mother died. As the lawyer, I did all the work to sort out all of the loose ends that had cropped up over the many years since the original child support order. Then I coordinated with another Legal Aid Ontario lawyer in the town the order originated in to deal with the court there. They got it sorted out and the amount owing corrected. Dennis was able to collect his hard-earned CPP and get on with his retirement in dignity because he had access to a Legal Aid lawyer.
This is the kind of essential work Legal Aid lawyers routinely do. But it's now at-risk because the Premier Doug Ford's Ontario government has cut 35% from Legal Aid Ontario's budget. People like Dennis may not be able to access the entitlements they rightfully earned and as a result face the cruel consequences of poverty - homelessness, declining physical and mental health, and more - that are inhumane and end up costing society a lot more than fixing something like Dennis's CPP issue.
If you agree that it's wrong to cut Legal Aid, join the movement to stop the cuts and send Premier Doug Ford and your MPP an email now.