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Ottawa to fund Ontario refugee and immigration legal aid after provincial cuts

TORONTO – The federal authorities will spend $26 million this yr on Ontario refugee and immigration authorized support companies after the province reduce funding, the prime minister introduced Monday, whereas taking partisan pre-election digs on the premier.

Premier Doug Ford’s spring funds slashed Authorized Assist Ontario’s funds by 30 per cent, together with eliminating funding for refugee and immigration regulation companies. His Progressive Conservative authorities maintained that Ottawa ought to pay these prices as a result of immigration is a federal duty.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated duty for authorized support for immigration and refugee circumstances has lengthy been a joint federal-provincial duty, however the Ford authorities “decided to step away from that.”

“The fact that we have to be here today to recognize that yet another Conservative government, the government of Doug Ford, is walking away from services to the most vulnerable is really frustrating for me and I think for all Canadians,” Trudeau stated.

Trudeau has more and more been slamming Ford forward of the October election, and his Liberal authorities additionally beforehand stepped in to fund a provincial tree planting program after it was reduce by Ontario.

“There are many other cuts that the Conservative government is making that the federal government will not be able to compensate for,” Trudeau stated. “That is something that Canadians need to be very mindful of as we go to the polls this fall.”

Ontario’s lawyer basic had been asking Ottawa to foot the invoice for refugee and immigration authorized support, saying the Trudeau authorities’s immigration insurance policies have led to a virtually 160 per cent improve in refugee claims in Ontario since 2013.

Doug Downey stated Monday that it is unlucky the federal authorities waited for a number of months earlier than responding.

“I think the public will be naturally suspicious of the timing, right before an election,” he stated.

Authorized Assist Ontario had been spending about $45 million a yr on immigration and refugee companies, with about 35 per cent of that coming from the federal authorities and the remainder from the province. Downey stated Ottawa was funding different provinces’ applications at 70 or 80 per cent.

Ontario pulled all of its funding for this system this spring, leaving it with a shortfall.

A spokesman for federal Justice Minister David Lametti stated the $25.7 million introduced Monday was along with roughly $15.four million in beforehand dedicated federal cash for this system. The brand new funding meant this system was roughly absolutely funded, he stated.

Trudeau stated the funding is one-time cash, however he’ll “engage in reflections” on how to make sure this system’s long-term sustainability.

Refugee attorneys applauded the announcement.

“Refugees and immigrants in Ontario have been facing a crisis,” Maureen Silcoff, president of the Canadian Affiliation of Refugee Attorneys stated in a press release.

“No one who is facing torture in a repressive regime, no woman who ran away from severe domestic violence in a country without protections, no LGBTQ2S individual who fled to save her life, should be subject to high-stakes legal proceedings without legal counsel.”

The Ontario NDP known as on the provincial authorities to completely restore all authorized support funding that it reduce.

– with information from Paola Loriggio.

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