Jump to content
Hegdis

Legal Aid Cuts In Ontario

Recommended Posts

2 hours ago, providence said:

The people saying it are often the same idiots who a year from now will drink and drive or shove their girlfriend around when they get in an argument or have sex with a drunk woman they just met without bothering to ascertain consent and end up crying in my office - I make a lot of money off those people.

Similarly I’ve always found it strange that law-and-order types tend to simultaneously fetishize  solving conflicts with violence in the name of “being a man/not being a pussy”.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
39 minutes ago, kiamia said:

Is it 2022 yet? 

No, it isn't.

But if you live in Ontario and care about the rights of accused, of parents and children involved with CAS, and of persons facing removal / deportation, please contact your MPP and tell them that you oppose cuts to LAO's certificate programs.

If you live in Ontario and think homelessness is bad, that renovictions are bad, that victims of violent crime should get compensation, and that those with mental disabilities might need help at SBT hearings, please contact your MPP and tell them that you oppose deep cuts to your local Community Legal Clinic. 

If you think that the justice system works better when litigants are informed and represented, please call your MPP and tell them that you oppose the cuts to LAO. 

These cuts aren't going anywhere. But most of the people coming to this site are advocates or advocates in training. So advocate. Don't duck and wait for electoral salvation. There are a lot of cases on the docket between now and 2022. 

Edited by realpseudonym
  • Like 8
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, realpseudonym said:

No, it isn't.

But if you live in Ontario and care about the rights of accused, of parents and children involved with CAS, and of persons facing removal / deportation, please contact your MPP and tell them that you oppose cuts to LAO's certificate programs.

If you live in Ontario and think homelessness is bad, that renovictions are bad, that victims of violent crime should get compensation, and that those with mental disabilities might need help at SBT hearings, please contact your MPP and tell them that you oppose deep cuts to your local Community Legal Clinic. 

If you think that the justice system works better when litigants are informed and represented, please call your MPP and tell them that you oppose the cuts to LAO. 

These cuts aren't going anywhere. But most of the people coming to this site are advocates or advocates in training. So advocate. Don't duck and wait for electoral salvation. There are a lot of cases on the docket between now and 2022. 

The problem is that disenfranchising the poor and marginalized is a feature of these changes, not a bug. That's the whole point. If it was simply mean as a consequence, like the child autism funding mess, then I would say that pressure and advocacy might be able to do something. And if we weren't talking about disabled children, which tends to rile the public up, they wouldn't have (sort of) relented. 

But let's face it, legal services for people earning <$15K on the public's dime isn't going to be a political pressure point. Not to this government. And they don't care about making sure the system runs smoothly. 

I'm normally all about advocacy, but in this instance I don't see any way to stop it. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, kiamia said:

The problem is that disenfranchising the poor and marginalized is a feature of these changes, not a bug. That's the whole point. If it was simply mean as a consequence, like the child autism funding mess, then I would say that pressure and advocacy might be able to do something. And if we weren't talking about disabled children, which tends to rile the public up, they wouldn't have (sort of) relented. 

But let's face it, legal services for people earning <$15K on the public's dime isn't going to be a political pressure point. Not to this government. And they don't care about making sure the system runs smoothly. 

I'm normally all about advocacy, but in this instance I don't see any way to stop it. 

It's free to try. 

Edited by realpseudonym
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
49 minutes ago, kiamia said:

The problem is that disenfranchising the poor and marginalized is a feature of these changes, not a bug. That's the whole point. If it was simply mean as a consequence, like the child autism funding mess, then I would say that pressure and advocacy might be able to do something. And if we weren't talking about disabled children, which tends to rile the public up, they wouldn't have (sort of) relented. 

But let's face it, legal services for people earning <$15K on the public's dime isn't going to be a political pressure point. Not to this government. And they don't care about making sure the system runs smoothly. 

I'm normally all about advocacy, but in this instance I don't see any way to stop it. 

Well it can be. One more generous interpretation is that this is Ford's attempt to get the feds to pay their share on refugee services, and the feds certainly haven't stepped up on legal aid. So there can be pressure on the feds as well as the province when it comes to Legal Aid issues. And the federal liberals are looking for ways to regain their self-promoted image as champions of equality. 

I don't think that the best way to frame this to the public is that it affects the poor and marginalized because you're right, they don't care. But they should care if the courts are unable to function properly. Also I would think advocates would tie this in with other issues - the funding of programs for disabled children, the changes to the education system etc, to show a general pattern of mean-spiritedness and attacking important institutions and values. 

Edited by providence

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, providence said:

Well it can be. One more generous interpretation is that this is Ford's attempt to get the feds to pay their share on refugee services, and the feds certainly haven't stepped up on legal aid. So there can be pressure on the feds as well as the province when it comes to Legal Aid issues. And the federal liberals are looking for ways to regain their self-promoted image as champions of equality. 

I don't think that the best way to frame this to the public is that it affects the poor and marginalized because you're right, they don't care. But they should care if the courts are unable to function properly. Also I would think advocates would tie this in with other issues - the funding of programs for disabled children, the changes to the education system etc, to show a general pattern of mean-spiritedness and attacking important institutions and values. 

Maybe part of this is brinkmanship politicking on the federal funding issue. Maybe it's a Trump-ian ploy to shoot high and then backtrack a little to show how "reasonable" Ford can be. But maybe it's neither of those things. Maybe it's a sign that we're in a new era of politics where from those who have nothing, all will be taken. I don't want to live in that world, but that looks like where we've landed.

I mean--when you look at Crown and Police funding--what other conclusion can you draw? I need to be crystal clear about this for posterity: these cuts don't mean that some admin is going to lose their job; it means that many, many people will be wrongfully convicted. Many will likely lose their children. Many will lose their homes. Many will lose an opportunity to remain in Canada. Many will be convicted and lose their job or their freedom to cross borders.

If this attack on LAO was meant to be a sign that this government's dismantling Liberal-era bureaucracies, then--fine--I get that. Cut $20 million or $30 million and force some tough choices. This is an outright attack on the administration of justice in this province. I don't believe for a second that anyone in this government is smart enough to know the impact this is going to have. The scarier thing is that they probably lack the empathy even to care.

I guess we'll see the federal response. This is a tiny amount of money. I'd expect some kind of intervention.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brutal. 

I know very little about Legal Aid Ontario. Is this likely to effect Criminal/Family matters? Or did he restrict legal aid funds from going to refugee/immigration matters and then cut the funding that was previously going there?

Either way it's shitty, but I'm curious about the total effect this will have. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well the CBC article is saying that the province is asking for the federal gov't to make up the shortfall in refugee aid of $45 million. But they're still looking to cut ~$130 and then ~160 million. [As a rough estimate, about 12% of the certificates LAO has recently issued is for immigration/refugee matters https://www.legalaid.on.ca/en/publications/quarterly-report-2017-18-q4.asp and the federal gov't already puts in some funding - $16M this year for refugee stuff https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/ontario-legal-aid-funding-cut-1.5095058]

Legal Aid is already underfunded, and has been for a number of years. You've had people scouring for efficiencies and ways to save money long before this. They would've shaken all the trees and gotten a lot of the low-hanging fruit. The question is how much more you can squeeze out of the system, and it can't possibly be as much as Ford thinks. Assuming the federal gov't steps up, you're still talking about a ~25% budget cut. Which is massive, for budgets that are already stretched. 

And for the record, it's not clear that Ford has found any real "efficiencies" yet with anything - so far he's just cutting everything, and it looks like it's just going to be a reduction in services. 

Edit: I'll add that I think the only strategy you have for these types of budget cuts is to completely cut the less essential programs and take a slice from all the essential ones and hope everything holds together (think a very advanced Jenga game, where each piece you take out is going to be a group of people losing some access to justice). 

Edited by kiamia
  • Sad 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, kiamia said:

Edit: I'll add that I think the only strategy you have for these types of budget cuts is to completely cut the less essential programs and take a slice from all the essential ones and hope everything holds together (think a very advanced Jenga game, where each piece you take out is going to be a group of people losing some access to justice). 

I agree that this is probably what will happen. The issue is determining what those cuts will look like on the ground. If you just fund the certificate budget, the DC budget, telephone advice for all non-crim areas of law, and the admin budget necessary to hold that together, you get to around $330 million. The analysis really begins here: do you maintain a model premised on in-court lawyers giving advice to clients? Is that something that can even be peeled back without truly and completely destroying the administration of justice? The practitioners on this board will tell you that there's very little (to no) "fat" in the duty counsel program. In the criminal courts where I work, you typically have two DC for circa 30 clients. When I've worked as DC, I've found the numbers overwhelming. In some courts you even have two lawyers for a first-appearance/plea/bail court. How do you trim that? Have one person dealing with 30 people? If that lawyer spends only 10 minutes with each client, that's 5 hours just in non-stop bare-bones advice-giving. Nothing would be addressed on the record. How does that leave time to speak with the Crown and resolve anything? Or prepare for a plea? This isn't a percentage game. It's not like you can cut 10% of a lawyer.

Just looking at the numbers you posted, the DC budget is around $55 million. I think that includes staff and per diem counsel. Can you cut 10% of that? Twenty? Fifty? That's still under $30 million. And if you cut that deep, you're guaranteeing that judges and JPs are going to be sitting 'til 6 o'clock each night as they fight through endless self-rep appearances that make a mockery of every foundational principle of justice established in the Charter era. The current service model is based on DC resolving anything they can, and issuing certs only where there's a probability of jail. By cutting DC, you eliminate 1) the ability to resolve many matters without the necessity of issuing a cert, and 2) the possibility of a client (who is not certificate eligible but can't access counsel) receiving advice during bail hearings, guilty pleas, etc. I don't even want to acknowledge that as a possibility. I woke up at 3 this morning because the idea of that transpiring makes me sick.

So where do you look next? The certificate budget? That's the biggest line by far. Do you provide gold-plated DC service and halve the cert budget on the premise that at least people will get as much help as possible before they set their self-rep trials? Only issue certs in cases of serious indictable offences? I'm sorry to say that I think that's going to happen. If you fired every single DC and allowed clients to apply for certs based solely on a Crown Screening Form, you'd probably add an additional $55 million to the cert budget. The courts would cease to function as Crowns would be forced to meet with self-reps in all courts. If you maintain DC levels and mandate them not to issue certs for out-of-custody clients or clients facing less than 6-month sentences, you probably axe the certificate budget by $100 million.

I'm asking many questions, because I can't begin to contemplate how these cuts are going to be implemented. Beyond maybe $10-20 million in savings by closing physical offices and laying off paralegals, secretaries, etc. you get into essential services.

The numbers will change as the federal government is forced to kick in money. But it's still scary as hell.

  • Like 3
  • Sad 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why doesn’t the federal government pay for most of legal aid? Two compelling arguments for the federal government establishing a national legal aid program spring to mind:

1. There’s no reason people should have access to more or less legal aid based on the province they live in. A person charged with a crime in Nova Scotia should have the same access to legal aid as someone in BC. 

2. Most of legal aid’s budget goes to addressing federal heads of power, such as immigration and criminal law. 

I’m not defending the cuts, this issue has just made me think about why we have the system we have. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
39 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

Most of legal aid’s budget goes to addressing federal heads of power, such as immigration and criminal law. 

The administration of the courts is a provincial responsibility. For example Quebec's courts are nothing like Ontario's.

Legal aid cuts across both substantive law and the administration of justice. 

Edited by pzabbythesecond

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

Why doesn’t the federal government pay for most of legal aid? Two compelling arguments for the federal government establishing a national legal aid program spring to mind:

1. There’s no reason people should have access to more or less legal aid based on the province they live in. A person charged with a crime in Nova Scotia should have the same access to legal aid as someone in BC. 

2. Most of legal aid’s budget goes to addressing federal heads of power, such as immigration and criminal law. 

I’m not defending the cuts, this issue has just made me think about why we have the system we have. 

On the flip side, the provinces determine eligibility, policies etc based on local practices and needs. I think it should be a shared responsibility.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, pzabbythesecond said:

The administration of the courts is a provincial responsibility. For example Quebec's courts are nothing like Ontario's.

Legal aid cuts across both substantive law and the administration of justice. 

What does the administration of the courts have to do with legal aid? The substantive areas of law that sucks up most of legal aids resources are federal heads of power. The provinces have no control over them. Why not have the federal government pay for it? 

Or at least, why don’t the respective governments foot the bill for legal aid resources used in proceedings under their heads of power? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

What does the administration of the courts have to do with legal aid? The substantive areas of law that sucks up most of legal aids resources are federal heads of power. The provinces have no control over them. Why not have the federal government pay for it? 

Or at least, why don’t the respective governments foot the bill for legal aid resources used in proceedings under their heads of power? 

The administration of justice in the province has a lot to do with legal aid ie. how duty counsel services are provided, who is eligible for legal aid, how remote circuits are serviced, where to use staff lawyers and where to use private bar, what rates to pay counsel, administration of the Brydges system, etc. etc.

The Feds don’t have much to do with the provincial courts. They appoint their own judges, hire their own staff, and set their own rules.

Edited by providence
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

What does the administration of the courts have to do with legal aid? The substantive areas of law that sucks up most of legal aids resources are federal heads of power. The provinces have no control over them. Why not have the federal government pay for it? 

Or at least, why don’t the respective governments foot the bill for legal aid resources used in proceedings under their heads of power? 

What @providence said.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, providence said:

The administration of justice in the province has a lot to do with legal aid ie. how duty counsel services are provided, who is eligible for legal aid, how remote circuits are serviced, where to use staff lawyers and where to use private bar, what rates to pay counsel, administration of the Brydges system, etc. etc.

I don’t think those are administration of justice questions so much as operational questions about how to deploy legal aid resources. They only seem like administration of justice questions because the provincial government runs legal aid. If the federal government ran the legal aid system, we’d say those are all operational decisions. 

Edited by BlockedQuebecois

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

I don’t think those are administration of justice questions so much as operational questions about how to deploy legal aid resources. They only seem like administration of justice systems because the provincial government runs legal aid. If the federal government ran the legal aid system, we’d say those are all operational decisions. 

The feds would suck at making a legal aid budget where they have to decide how many duty counsel to send to which communities how many times a month and what to pay them. The administration of justice IS basically operations, but it is best left to the provinces because they know their needs on the ground. I don’t want some unelected idiot in the PMO in Ottawa deciding what kinds of services my clients require, or deciding that for clients on First Nations in the prairies or historic black communities in Nova Scotia or up in Iqaluit.

Edited by providence
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have no issue with the feds paying more for legal aid. I have issue with the provinces cutting already underfunded legal aid to get the feds to do it. Real lives are at stake in this twisted federalist politics.

Someone draw up a clever political cartoon.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
53 minutes ago, providence said:

The feds would suck at making a legal aid budget where they have to decide how many duty counsel to send to which communities how many times a month and what to pay them. The administration of justice IS basically operations, but it is best left to the provinces because they know their needs on the ground. I don’t want some unelected idiot in the PMO in Ottawa deciding what kinds of services my clients require, or deciding that for clients on First Nations in the prairies or historic black communities in Nova Scotia or up in Iqaluit.

Much better that some unelected idiot in Doug Ford's office draw up the plan, right? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



  • Recent Posts

    • IMO I would say overall Calgary is the better school, I'm from Ontario and I decined Ottawa for Calgary so granted I am biased. However, I believe UoC to have a more innovative curriculum, better facilites, better job market and their articling employment rate is amazing! Both cities get very cold in the Winters, so there's that. However, if you are dead-set on practicing in Ontario then yeah Ottawa would seem a more viable option. That being said it is not impossible to transition between provinces, especially if you have good grades and/or a bit of nepotism (or 'Networking'). Take that as you will, but Calgary FTW
    • from what I understand, the States have a tiered system that consists of low tier schools who admit people who have low LSAT and GPA's. Some of these schools do not have good bar pass rates or employment prospects. I can't comment on the actual curriculum. In Canada, all schools have relatively high admissions standards, so the people being admitted generally have the ability to complete the rigour of law school and mostly pass the bar. I guess essentially the deviations in school standards are much lower in Canada, thus providing consistency. 
    • I have lived in Kingston all my life and have recently been accepted into Calgary Law and still waiting on Queen's. So I would also appreciate a comparison of the law schools. Obviously I think a majority of it comes down to where you want to practice law as it would be harder to transition from say Calgary to Ontario if you went to Calgary Law and vice versa.   In regards to Kingston as a city: In the summers Kingston is one of the best places to live. It is very warm, has great patios, restaurants and festivals, etc. The job market however is not strong and you would most likely look to Toronto for summer employment.  In the winter Kingston gets cold, a lot colder than Toronto. There is not much to do... thats about all I can say about that. Students typically live in something called the 'Ghetto', which is right beside the university and walking distance to downtown.   Is there anything in particular you would like to know about Kingston ?
×
×
  • Create New...