It’s a province-wide day of action against cuts to legal aid with events taking place across Ontario, including North Bay.

An information campaign runs until 1 pm today outside MPP Vic Fedeli’s office.

Lawyer/director Stuart Bailey with the Nipissing Community Legal Clinic says they haven’t been impacted as much as other offices, which are facing layoffs.

He says they budget conservatively and they try to ensure they’re not overspending.

“They’ve taken away our surplus, so now we don’t have any margin for error, if we should go over, say we have a staff member sick and we have to replace them, that’s what they’ve taken away,” he says.

Overall, Bailey says these cuts are having an impact around Ontario.

“They are really short-sighted and my hope is that Mr. Fedeli, because he has shown himself to be interested in doing good constituency work, will press his government to reverse these cuts,” he says.

Community legal clinics serve low-income Ontarians on a variety of issues from housing, income security, education, health care, disability programs, workers’ rights, victim’s assistance and environmental issues.

Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli says two-thirds of legal clinics will receive a larger funding allocation this year than they spent last year, including in Nipissing, based on quarterly reports submitted by clinics.

He says while some lawyers and special-interest groups may be critical of the renewed era of accountability at Legal Aid Ontario, it is necessary to make legal aid sustainable.
Fedeli says the Auditor General’s 2018 Annual Report demonstrated that in recent years, more and more money has been spent without achieving the results that legal aid clients or taxpayers should expect.

He says Legal Aid will have a budget of more than $430 million dollars this year, and even more if the federal government commits to properly funding the services for which it is responsible.

(Photo by station staff)

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