Ontario to Implement Legal-Aid Program for Immigrants and Refugees

As Canada’s pre-election budget is to be presented tomorrow, Tuesday 19 March, Caroline Mulroney, Ontario Attorney-General, is urging the federal government to be wholly responsible for the province’s legal-aid program for immigrants and refugees which is expected to cost $45-million.

Ontario Wants the Federal government to Fund its Legal-Aid Program

The costs attached to the provision of immigration and refugee services have taken a giant leap in Ontario following some policies by the federal government, according to the letter addressed to federal ministers of justice, immigration, and finance by Ms. Mulroney. She noted that it is imperative for the province to maintain a system that is stable and sustainable.

In the letter, she forwarded to Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Ahmed Hussen – Immigration Minister and Justice Minister David Lametti, said the challenges Ontario is facing are federally created and the government of the province had earlier reached out to Ottawa to fix the problem.

She said she is sure that the need to fund the legal-aid program will be evident to Ottawa as the budget is being tabled because failure to do so will make things difficult for people who depend on the system.

Immigration is key

Canada’s federal government knows the significance of properly funding legal aid which has seen it raise its contribution towards six province’s immigration and refugee legal-aid services by above $22-million according to a spokesman for Mr. Morneau, Pierre-Olivier Herbert.

He said the government of Canada is fully aware of the roles immigration plays in driving a nation’s economy as well as the successes it has brought Canada.

The federal government only contributes $16.9-million to the delivery of immigration and refugee program in the province, representing a gap of about $28-million when compared to Legal Aid Ontario’s estimate of $45-million.

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