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More funding needed for legal aid amidst pandemic

During the Society of United Professionals' recent lobby day at Queen's Park, members from the Society's Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) Local were raising concerns about the reliance on funds from the Law Society of Ontario to address budget concerns.

Two letters from the Alliance for Sustainable Legal Aid are reinforcing the concerns that more funding is needed for Legal Aid Ontario. The letters, addressed to Attorney General of Ontario Doug Downey and Minister of Justice David Lametti, note that one of the major funders of Legal Aid Ontario is the Law Foundation of Ontario.

The letters note that, “The foundation’s revenue is composed of interest on the trust accounts of lawyers and paralegals, and is dependent primarily on interest rates and the balances in mixed-trust accounts. We expect the foundation’s financial situation to be drastically different this year than it was last year. Recently, the Bank of Canada cut its key interest rate to assist the country with the economic downturn resulting from COVID-19.... Accordingly, the foundation’s contribution could fall from a high of over $91 million in 2019/20 to less than $30 million in 2020/21.”

When coupled with the Ford government's cuts, Legal Aid is struggling to meet the increase in demand on their services due to COVID-related cases.

You can read the whole article at Law Times here: