Transcript: Ontario Legal Aid Funding Cuts | Apr 18, 2019

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and striped lilac tie.

A caption on screen reads "Ontario legal aid funding cuts. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says IN THE 2019 PROVINCIAL
BUDGET, THE FORD GOVERNMENT CUT
FUNDING TO LEGAL AID ONTARIO BY
30 percent OR THE EQUIVALENT OF 133
MILLION DOLLARS.
IT'S PROMPTED QUITE AN OUTCRY
FROM MEMBERS OF THE LEGAL
COMMUNITY.
HERE TO EXPLAIN WHY: AVVY GO,
DIRECTOR OF THE CHINESE AND
SOUTHEAST ASIAN LEGAL CLINIC...

Avvy is in her fifties, with long straight brown hair and bangs. She's wearing glasses and a red shirt.

Steve continues AND PATRICIA HUGHES, FORMER
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE LAW
COMMISSION OF ONTARIO, NOW A
CONTRIBUTOR TO SLAW, CANADA'S
ONLINE LEGAL MAGAZINE.

Patricia is in her late fifties, with short gray hair. She's wearing glasses, a black blazer over a burgundy blouse, and pendant earrings.

Steve continues AVVY, GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN, AND
I THINK YOU FOR THE FIRST TIME
HERE.
DELIGHTED TO HAVE YOU HERE.
PATRICIA, HELP US UNDERSTAND A
BIT OF THE BACKGROUND HERE.
WHO USES LEGAL AID?

The caption changes to "Patricia Hughes. SLAW."
Then, it changes again to "How deep?"

Patricia says WELL, PEOPLE WHO ARE
SUFFICIENTLY POOR TO PASS THE
ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS.
SO IF YOU'RE AN INDIVIDUAL, FOR
EXAMPLE, YOU NEED TO EARN JUST
AROUND 17,000 TO BE ELIGIBLE
FOR LEGAL AID, EXCEPT FOR
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES, WHICH
ARE A LITTLE HIGHER.
SO THE REALITY IS THAT THE
LEVELS ARE NOT VERY HIGH, AND IT
MEANS A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE EXCLUDED.

Steve says AND AVVY, WHAT
TYPICALLY KINDS OF CASES WOULD
BE INVOLVED?

The caption changes to "Avvy Go. Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic."

Avvy says WELL, LEGAL AID HAS MANY
DIFFERENT TYPES OF SERVICES.
SO ON THE CERTIFICATE SIDE,
WHERE YOU APPLY FOR LEGAL AID TO
GET A COUNSEL THROUGH THE
PRIVATE BAR, USUALLY THEY COVER
CRIMINAL AND FAMILY LAW MATTERS.
THEY ALSO... LEGAL AID ALSO HAS
DUTY COUNSEL IN THE COURT SYSTEM
TO HELP PEOPLE JUST, YOU KNOW,
DEAL WITH THE MATTERS THAT
APPEAR IN COURT THAT PARTICULAR
DAY.
AND THEN THEY HAVE THE LEGAL
CLINICS WHICH WE ARE A PART OF.
FOR A LEGAL CLINIC, WE COVER A
WHOLE HOST OF AREAS OF LAW,
INCLUDING HOUSING, SOCIAL
ASSISTANCE, PEOPLE WHO ARE
DENIED EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE.
IN OUR CASE, FOR INSTANCE, IN
OUR CLINIC, WE HELP A LOT OF
LOW-INCOME WORKERS WHO ARE
VICTIMS OF WAGE THEFT, AND WE
ALSO HELP MANY VICTIMS OF
VIOLENCE, YOU KNOW, AND SO ON
AND SO FORTH.
SO THERE'S A WIDE RANGE OF
SERVICES.

Steve says AND LET ME NOW GET A
SENSE FROM BOTH OF YOU ABOUT
WHAT A 130 MILLION DOLLAR PLUS CUT
WILL DO TO ALL OF THAT.
PATRICIA?

The caption changes to "Patricia Hughes, @phughes9112."

Patricia says WELL, OBVIOUSLY IT'S GOING TO
MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT TO OFFER
THE SERVICES THAT ARE OFFERED
NOW, WHICH ARE REALLY NOT
SUFFICIENT.
ONE OF THE REAL PROBLEMS THAT'S
COME UP, OF COURSE, IS THAT THE
ONTARIO GOVERNMENT HAS MADE IT
CLEAR THAT NO PROVINCIAL FUNDING
CAN BE USED FOR IMMIGRATION AND
REFUGEE CASES.
AND THAT SOMEHOW THE FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT WILL HAVE TO MAKE
SURE THAT THE SUFFICIENT FUNDING
IS THERE OR, IN FACT, THEY WON'T
GET HELP.
SO THAT IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM,
BUT OBVIOUSLY OTHERS AS WELL.
AND THAT HAS... THAT REMAINS TO
BE SEEN.
IT'S ALSO CLEAR THAT THERE ARE
EXPECTATIONS THAT THE GOVERNMENT
WILL GIVE FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS
AND DIRECTION ON WHAT THEY HAVE
CALLED THE JUSTICE SYSTEM.
SO IT'S NOT CLEAR WHETHER OR NOT
THEY'LL BE MORE SPECIFIC ABOUT
THE CHANGES THAT NEED TO BE MADE
AT LEGAL AID AND ELSEWHERE.

Steve says AVVY, WHAT DO YOU SEE
AS THE IMPLICATIONS?

The caption changes to "Avvy Go, @csalegalclinic."

Avvy says WELL, WE DON'T KNOW YET FROM
THE LEGAL CLINIC POINT OF VIEW
WHAT IT MEANS TO US, BUT
CERTAINLY A CUT OF THIS
MAGNITUDE, FOR SURE, WILL
DIRECTLY IMPACT ON CLINICS AND
THE SERVICES WE PROVIDE TO
LOW-INCOME AND MODERATE-INCOME
FAMILIES.
SO I'M VERY CONCERNED, FOR
INSTANCE, JUST TAKE OUR CLINIC
AS AN EXAMPLE, WE HAVE SEVEN
FUNDED POSITIONS WITH THREE
LAWYERS, INCLUDING MYSELF, TWO
COMMUNITY WORKERS, AND AN OFFICE
MANAGER WHO ALSO DEVOTE DUTY AS
A RECEPTIONIST.
SO WE ARE WHAT WE CALL
FRONT-LINE WORK, AND IN FACT THE
GOVERNMENT HAS MADE IT VERY
CLEAR THAT WHEN THEY CUT LEGAL
AID, IT SHOULD NOT AFFECT
FRONT-LINE WORK.
BUT ALL OF OUR CLIENTS... LIKE,
YOU KNOW, ALL OF OUR... SERVE
CLIENTS, BUT IF LEGAL AID HAS
PROJECTED DEFICIT NOW OF 53
MILLION DOLLARS, THEY HAVE TO FIND CUTS
SOMEWHERE, AND I WON'T BE
SURPRISED IF THEY ARE GOING TO
COME TO CLINIC AND SAY THAT,
SORRY, YOU HAVE TO LAY OFF
STAFF, RIGHT?
AS SOON AS THEY DO THAT, IT'S
GOING TO AFFECT A LOT OF CLINICS
AND A LOT OF OUR CLIENTS,
PARTICULARLY WE SERVE CLIENTS
THAT ARE VERY VULNERABLE.
THERE'S A HIGH PERCENTAGE OF
RACIALIZED PEOPLE SERVED BY
CLINICS BECAUSE PEOPLE OF
COLOUR, INDIGENOUS PEOPLE ARE
MORE LIKELY TO LIVE IN POVERTY.
WE HAVE VERY HIGH PERCENTAGE OF
WOMEN, INCLUDING DOMESTIC
VIOLENCE VICTIMS.
A LOT OF CLIENTS WITH MENTAL
HEALTH CHALLENGES.
ALL OF THESE CLIENTS ARE PEOPLE
THAT PRIVATE BARS DON'T USUALLY
LIKE TO SERVE BECAUSE THEY ARE
VERY DIFFICULT TO SERVE AND THEY
FACE MULTIPLE BARRIERS TO ACCESS
TO JUSTICE.
SO THESE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN
RELYING ON CLINICS AND ON LEGAL
AID TO GET ACCESS TO THE COURT
SYSTEM AND THE TRIBUNAL.
SO I REALLY HAVE A FEAR THAT I'M
NOT SURE WHERE THEY'RE GOING TO
TURN IF WE START CUTTING
SERVICES.

Steve says WELL, THAT WAS GOING
TO BE MY NEXT QUESTION.
BECAUSE IF YOU CAN'T ACCESS A
LAWYER THAT WAY, YOU'RE NOT
GOING TO GO TO BAY STREET AND
HIRE A LAWYER, SO WHAT WILL THEY DO?

The caption changes to "Throwing justice off balance?"

Patricia says YOU END UP IN A
SELF-REPRESENTED LITIGANT
SITUATION, AND WE'LL USE
LITIGANT IN A VERY LOOSE WAY
HERE.
IT MAY OR MAY NOT BE A COURT
CASE, BUT IT'S SOMEBODY WHO IS
TRYING TO VINDICATE THEIR
RIGHTS, AND THE DIFFICULTIES FOR
SELF-REPRESENTED LITIGANTS, OR
PEOPLE TRYING TO VINDICATE THEIR
RIGHTS, IS THAT IT IS HARD TO
KNOW HOW TO USE THE LEGAL
SYSTEM.
THERE ARE ALL KINDS OF DIFFERENT
WAYS IN WHICH PEOPLE HAVE MADE
EFFORTS TO DO THAT.
WHETHER OR NOT IT'S JUDGES WHO
ARE SUPPOSED TO HELP
SELF-REPRESENTED LITIGANTS IN
THE COURTROOM, WHETHER IT'S
COACHING THEM, UNBUNDLED
SERVICES WHERE THEY MIGHT BE
ABLE TO GET SOME ASSISTANCE WITH
PART OF THEIR CASE, AND SO ON.
AND THERE'S QUITE A LOT THERE,
BUT MANY PEOPLE WILL END UP NOT
TRYING TO ASSERT THEIR RIGHTS AT
ALL BECAUSE IT'S TOO DIFFICULT,
OR THEY WILL END UP... AND ONE
THING WE DO KNOW IS THAT
SELF-REPRESENTED LITIGANTS DO
NOT DO AS WELL AS PEOPLE WHO ARE
REPRESENTED.
THERE IS SOMETHING THAT I THINK
IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO
APPRECIATE, AND THAT IS THAT THE
JUSTICE SYSTEM, THE LEGAL
SYSTEM, DOESN'T EXIST IN A
VACUUM.
IT'S NOT THERE ON AN ISLAND.
THERE'S ALL KINDS OF OTHER
ASPECTS OF OUR SYSTEM THAT ARE
LINKED WITH THE LEGAL SYSTEM.
SO PEOPLE WHO CAN'T GO TO COURT
TO VINDICATE THEIR RIGHTS AND
PERHAPS AREN'T ABLE TO ADDRESS
AN EMPLOYMENT PROBLEM, AS AN
EXAMPLE, MAY END UP LOSING THEIR
HOME.
THEY MAY END UP WITH FAMILY
DIFFICULTIES.
THEY MAY END UP WITH MENTAL
STRESS OR PHYSICAL HEALTH.
THEY MAY COMMIT CRIME.
SO WHEN WE LOOK AT CUTTING THE
ACCESS ISSUE, CUTTING PEOPLE'S
ACCESS TO THE LEGAL SYSTEM, WE
HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT IT'S GOING
TO HAVE AN EFFECT ELSEWHERE IN
THE SYSTEM AND IN THE SERVICES
THAT ARE PROVIDED.
AND I'M NOT SURE THAT THAT'S
SOMETHING THAT'S REALLY LOOKED
AT ADEQUATELY.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Steve says IF THE NUMBER OF
LAWYERS AT YOUR CLINIC END UP
BEING CUT IN HALF, LET'S SAY,
PRESUMABLY THAT MEANS YOUR
CLIENTS WILL STILL HAVE ACCESS
TO JUSTICE AND TO LEGAL ADVICE,
BUT THEY MAY HAVE TO WAIT TWICE
AS LONG FOR IT.
IS THAT POSSIBLE?

Avvy says IT'S POSSIBLE, BUT ALSO I
THINK WE WILL JUST NOT BE ABLE
TO SERVE AS MANY CLIENTS.
SO AGAIN, TAKE OUR CLINIC AS AN
EXAMPLE, WE RECEIVE ADDITIONAL
FUNDING OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF
YEARS AS A RESULT OF NEW
INVESTMENT IN LEGAL AID.
SO WITH THAT NEW FUNDING, WHAT
WE DID WAS EXPAND THE MANDATE OF
OUR CLINIC FROM THE GREATER
TORONTO AREA TO ALL OF ONTARIO.
SO WE STARTED SERVING CLIENTS
FROM OTTAWA, WINDSOR, YOU KNOW,
LONDON, KITCHENER-WATERLOO.

Steve says WHERE DID YOU GET THE
EXTRA MONEY FROM?

Avvy says FROM LEGAL AID ONTARIO.

Steve says OKAY.

Avvy says THEY GOT THE MONEY FROM THE
GOVERNMENT, RIGHT?
AND WE ACTUALLY DROPPED THE
NAME.
WE USED TO BE CALLED METRO
TORONTO, AND WE DROPPED THAT
NAME BECAUSE WE EXPANDED OUR
SERVICE PROVINCE-WIDE AND WE
INCREASED OUR NUMBER OF CLIENTS
WE SERVE, LIKE, YOU KNOW, WITHIN
THE LAST YEAR AND A HALF, JUST
BEEN A YEAR AND A HALF THAT WE
DID THAT, HUNDREDS OF CLIENTS
MORE WHO ARE LIVING OUTSIDE OF
THE GTA.
IF WE HAVE TO GO BACK TO THE
PREVIOUS NUMBER OF STAFF, WE MAY
SIMPLY JUST NOT SERVE CLIENTS
FROM OUTSIDE OF GTA BECAUSE WE
CANNOT DO IT.
LIKE, WE JUST DON'T HAVE THE
RESOURCES TO DO IT.
SO THE CLIENTS WHO ARE NOW
ACCESSING OUR SERVICES, I DON'T
KNOW WHERE THEY WENT BEFORE, AND
I THINK AS PATRICIA SAID, THAT
YOU KNOW, THEY MAY END UP, YOU
KNOW, JUST REPRESENT THEMSELVES
IN THE TRIBUNAL OR, YOU KNOW, A
LOT OF OUR CLIENTS THEY COME TO
US BECAUSE THEY HAVE LANGUAGE
BARRIERS, AND A LOT OF THE
TRIBUNALS DO NOT PROVIDE
INTERPRETATION SERVICES.
ALL THE FORMS ARE IN FRENCH AND
ENGLISH.
SO A LOT OF PEOPLE MAY SIMPLY
JUST GIVE UP AND NOT PROCEED.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live."

Steve says LET ME PUT AN
UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTH TO BOTH OF
YOU, AND I WANT TO GET YOUR
REACTION TO IT.
FOR THE CLIENTS THAT YOU
REPRESENT, WHO ARE DEALING WITH
IMMIGRATION CASES OR REFUGEE
CASES, THOSE ARE BOTH FEDERAL
POLICIES.
THOSE ARE BOTH POLICIES IMPOSED
ON THE PROVINCE BY THE
GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO.
THE GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO
RIGHTLY OR WRONGLY HAS MADE A
DECISION THAT THEY'RE NOT ABOUT
TO PICK UP THE TAB FOR DECISIONS
THAT THEY HAVE NO INPUT INTO.
AND THEIR VIEW IS WHY SHOULD
THEY.
CAN YOU SPEAK TO WHETHER YOU
THINK THEY ARE ON SOLID LEGAL,
ETHICAL, MORAL, ET CETERA,
GROUNDS TAKING THAT POSITION.

Patricia says THE PROVINCE?

Steve says YEAH.

Patricia says I JUST WANT TO MAKE IT CLEAR
JUST FOR PEOPLE WHO... I'M NOT
INVOLVED IN REPRESENTING
CLIENTS.
THAT'S NOT MY EXCITEMENT.
[Laughter].
AND CONTRIBUTION.
ARE THEY ON SOLID GROUND?
WELL, I THINK YOU HAVE TO LOOK
AT THE FACT THAT MANY ASPECTS OF
WHAT IMMIGRANTS AND REFUGEES
NEED ARE ACTUALLY WITHIN THE
PROVINCE'S PURVIEW.
SO HOUSING, FOR EXAMPLE.
SOCIAL BENEFITS, FOR EXAMPLE.
ALL... YOU KNOW, YOU COULD GO
THROUGH A LIST OF DIFFERENT
ISSUES THAT ARE PROVINCIAL.

Steve says THAT'S ALL TRUE, BUT
THE NUMBERS OF IMMIGRANTS AND
THE NUMBERS OF REFUGEES AND THE
COMPLICATED NATURE OF... OR NOT
OF THEIR CASES WOULD ALL HAVE
BEEN STUFF OUTSIDE THE
PROVINCIAL PURVIEW AND IMPOSED
ON THEM BY THE FEDS.

Avvy says CAN I RESPOND TO THAT?
AND I THINK FIRST OF ALL I THINK
A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE
CRIMINAL CODE IS ALSO A FEDERAL
LEGISLATION.
BUT YOU KNOW, THE ONTARIO
GOVERNMENT IS PAYING FOR IT
BECAUSE WE HAVE CONSTITUTIONAL
RIGHT, YOU KNOW, PROTECTED
RIGHTS TO ACCESS TO LEGAL
SERVICES IN CRIMINAL MATTERS.
THERE ARE MANY OTHER
LEGISLATIONS THAT ARE FEDERAL.
SO EI, LIKE EMPLOYMENT
INSURANCE, CPPD, OAS.
LIKE, ALL OF THESE ARE INCOME
MAINTENANCE ISSUES THAT MANY
CLIENTS OF LEGAL CLINICS ARE
COMING TO CLINIC FOR HELP WITH.

Steve says BUT WHEN AN UNEMPLOYED
PERSON APPLIES FOR EMPLOYMENT
INSURANCE...

Avvy says IT'S A FEDERAL LEGISLATION.

Steve says RIGHT, AND IT DOESN'T
COST THE PROVINCE ANYTHING.

Patricia says FOR THE EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE.

Avvy says RIGHT.

Steve says BUT THIS DOES.
THAT'S THE POINT.

The caption changes to "Whose responsibility is it anyway?"

Avvy says CRIMINAL JUSTICE COSTS THE
PROVINCE A LOT OF MONEY, RIGHT?
BECAUSE OF THE CORRECTIONAL
SYSTEM THAT THE PROVINCE PAYS
FOR, RIGHT?
SO IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT THE
MONEY.
BUT ALSO I THINK THAT A LOT...
MAYBE A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T
REALIZE THAT EVEN CANADIANS HAVE
IMMIGRATION ISSUES.
IT'S NOT JUST THE REFUGEES,
RIGHT?
SO FOR INSTANCE, IF YOU ARE A
CANADIAN CITIZEN, YOU WANT TO
SPONSOR YOUR PARENTS, YOUR
SPOUSE, YOUR CHILDREN FROM
OVERSEAS...

Steve says I GET THIS, AVVY, BUT
THE POINT I'M... I'M NOT MAKING
THE POINT.
I'M GIVING VOICE TO THE
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT'S VIEW,
WHICH IS: IF THE FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT, YOU KNOW, IMPOSES
THE IMMIGRATION LEVELS OR
ACCEPTS X NUMBER OF REFUGEES,
THEN THEY SHOULD PAY GIVEN THAT
IT'S THEIR POLICY.
THE FEDS SHOULD PAY FOR WHATEVER
THE COSTS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH
THAT, NOT THE PROVINCE.
AND THAT'S WHY THE PROVINCE
FEELS IT'S ON SOLID GROUND
CUTTING THE LEGAL AID BUDGET.
I'M JUST SAYING THAT'S THEIR
POSITION.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Patricia says I THINK YOU ALSO HAVE TO
THINK ABOUT IT IN THE BROADER
WAY, THE SAME WAY WE HAVE TO
THINK ABOUT ACCESS TO JUSTICE IN
A BROADER WAY.
AND THAT IS WHEN NEW PEOPLE COME
INTO THE PROVINCE, THEY'RE
CONTRIBUTING TO THE PROVINCE AS
WELL, AND SO THEY DO GET
EMPLOYMENT.
THEY PAY TAXES, WHETHER IT'S
FEDERALLY OR PROVINCIALLY.
THEY MAKE OTHER KINDS OF
CONTRIBUTIONS.
AND I THINK THAT THIS BUSINESS,
TO SOME EXTENT, AND I APPRECIATE
REALLY MY BACKGROUND IS
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, I APPRECIATE
ARGUMENTS THAT ARE BASED ON THE
CONSTITUTION.
I MEAN, THEY'RE EXCITING TO
THINK ABOUT AND THEY HAVE VERY
PRACTICAL RAMIFICATIONS.
BUT AT THE SAME TIME, THESE ARE
QUESTIONS THAT AFFECT US AS A
COUNTRY.
AND THEN WE HAVE A
RESPONSIBILITY PROVINCIALLY AND
FEDERALLY TO APPRECIATE THAT WE
HAVE TO DEAL WITH SOME MATTERS
TOGETHER.
AND IN THE PAST, THE PROVINCES
DID APPRECIATE THAT.
SO ONTARIO HAD AGREED TO A
SYSTEM IN WHICH THERE WAS SOME
SHARED RESPONSIBILITY ON THE
ISSUE.

Steve says PATRICIA, AS FAR BACK
AS I CAN REMEMBER, PEOPLE WHO DO
WHAT YOU DO HAVE COMPLAINED TO
THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT THAT
THEY HAVE... IT DOESN'T MATTER
WHAT PARTY WAS IN POWER, LEGAL
AID WAS NEVER ADEQUATELY
RESOURCED.

Patricia says IT'S NOT.

Steve says SO THIS IS NOT A NEW
PHENOMENON?

Patricia says NO, BUT IT'S THE BIGGEST CUT
THAT LEGAL AID HAS HAD, SO THERE
IS A DIFFERENCE.
I DO THINK WE NEED TO FIND A...
OR WILL FIND OUT LATER IN THE
AUDITOR'S REPORT OR IN THE...
SORRY, NOT THE AUDITOR'S
REPORT... YEAH, THE AUDITOR
GENERAL'S REPORT.
THAT'S RIGHT.
THERE WAS A STATEMENT ABOUT
LOOKING AT LEGAL AID AND HOW
IT'S DELIVERED AND COMPARING IT
TO OTHER PROVINCES AND WHETHER
OR NOT THERE SHOULD BE CHANGES
THERE.
SO THAT SHOE STILL HAS TO DROP.
WE DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT WILL BE.

Avvy says BUT I DO AGREE THAT THE
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CAN
CONTRIBUTE A LOT MORE THAN WHAT
THEY DO NOW IN TERMS OF THE
REFUGEE... FUNDING FOR REFUGEE
CASES.
I THINK... AND EVEN... LIKE,
I'VE APPEARED BEFORE THE JUSTICE
COMMITTEE AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL
TO TALK ABOUT THIS ISSUE, AND
THEY HAD A REPORT THAT WAS DONE
TWO YEARS AGO RECOMMENDING, YOU
KNOW, SORT OF LOOKING AT THE
FUNDING FOR LEGAL AID.
AND CERTAINLY I THINK THAT THE
PROVINCE HAS SOME LEGITIMATE
COMPLAINT TO MAKE BECAUSE VERY
LARGE PERCENTAGE OF THE REFUGEES
AND IMMIGRANTS DO COME TO
ONTARIO.
AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
FUNDING FOR LEGAL AID HASN'T
REALLY INCREASED THAT MUCH.

Steve says SO IF THE FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT WERE TO MAKE A
CONTRIBUTION CONCOMITANT WITH
THE SIZE OF THE PROBLEM THAT, IF
YOU LIKE, THEY HAVE HELPED
CREATE BY HAVING THE POLICIES
THAT THEY HAVE HAD ON REFUGEES,
WHAT DO YOU THINK WOULD BE A
SATISFACTORY NUMBER FOR THE FEDS
TO TRANSFER TO THE PROVINCE TO
TAKE CARE OF THIS?

Avvy says I DON'T KNOW.
I DON'T KNOW THE ANSWER.

Steve says IT'S MILLIONS OF
DOLLARS, THOUGH, PRESUMABLY,
WOULDN'T IT?
WE'RE TALKING THAT MAGNITUDE OF
MONEY?

Avvy says YES.

Steve says SORRY, I CUT YOU OFF.

Patricia says NO, I WAS JUST GOING TO SAY I
DON'T THINK THERE'S ANY QUESTION
THAT PEOPLE WHO ARE COMMITTED TO
THIS KIND OF WORK BELIEVE, OR TO
THE SOCIAL RAMIFICATIONS OF THIS
BELIEVE THAT THE FEDS SHOULD
ALSO BE PAYING MORE MONEY.
BUT THERE ARE TWO ISSUES.
I MEAN, ONE IS THE AMOUNT OF
MONEY AND WHERE IT COMES FROM.
AND THE OTHER IS HOW DO WE SEE
THE NOTION OF BUILDING A
SOCIETY.

Steve says MM-HM.

Patricia says AND DEPENDING ON HOW YOU LOOK
AT THAT, THEN YOU EITHER CAN
ARGUE, WELL, IT'S A FEDERAL
PROBLEM SO JUST PAY IT.
OR YOU CAN SAY THIS IS SOMETHING
THAT OTHERS HAVE TO BE INVOLVED
IN AS WELL.

Steve says WELL, YOU'VE OPENED
THE DOOR TO HAVE ME, AGAIN, PUT
WHAT THE FINANCE MINISTER OF
ONTARIO'S POSITION ON THIS WOULD
BE, WHICH IS... OKAY, HE HASN'T
SAID IT IN THESE EXACT WORDS,
BUT I THINK HE'D SAY SOMETHING
LIKE I'M ASKING THE HEALTH CARE
SYSTEM AND THE EDUCATION SYSTEM
TO TIGHTEN THEIR BELTS.
I'M ASKING THE MINISTRY OF THE
ENVIRONMENT TO TIGHTEN ITS BELT.
INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS TO TIGHTEN
ITS BELT.
HOW CAN I NOT ASK LEGAL AID
ONTARIO TO TIGHTEN ITS BELT AS
WELL?
BECAUSE THEY ARE TRYING TO
REDUCE THE DEFICIT AND BALANCE
THE BUDGET FIVE YEARS DOWN THE ROAD.

Avvy says RIGHT.
I THINK THERE ARE THREE
RESPONSES TO THAT.
30 percent CUT IS NOT JUST TIGHTENING A
BELT.
IT'S A HUGE DRASTIC DECREASE.
BUT ALSO I THINK THAT... AND
THERE ARE STUDIES INCLUDING A
STUDY IN THE U.S. THAT SHOWS
THAT EVERY DOLLAR INVESTED IN
LEGAL AID OR LEGAL SERVICES WILL
RESULT IN 5 RETURN TO THE
GOVERNMENT BECAUSE WE PREVENT
HOMELESSNESS FROM HAPPENING.
WE MAKE SURE PEOPLE HAVE FOOD ON
THE TABLE.
SO THOSE ARE ISSUES THAT I THINK
THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD ALSO CONSIDER.

Steve says SO YOU SPEND LESS MONEY
ON HEALTH CARE, PRISONS ON ALL
THOSE OTHER THINGS.

Avvy says YEAH, AND I CAN GIVE YOU A
VERY CONCRETE EXAMPLE OF THE
INVESTMENT THAT RESULT FROM
HAVING LEGAL AID SERVICES.
SEVERAL YEARS AGO WE REPRESENTED
A GROUP OF GARMENT FACTORY
WORKERS WHO WERE LAID OFF,
DIDN'T GET ANY WAGES,
TERMINATION PAY.
WE HELPED THEM GET HUNDREDS OF
THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS BACK, AND
THEY USED THE MONEY TO INVEST
AND ACTUALLY BOUGHT A
RESTAURANT.
THEY ARE NOW RUNNING ONE OF THE
MOST POPULAR RESTAURANTS IN
TORONTO.

Steve says DO YOU WANT TO NAME IT?

Avvy says I DON'T WANT TO NAME IT, BUT
IT HAS THE BEST STICKY RICE
CHICKEN IN TOWN.

Steve says HOW CAN YOU TEMPT US
WITH THE BEST STICKY CHICKEN
RICE IN TOWN AND NOT TELL US THE
NAME OF THE PLAYS?

Avvy says BUT IT'S AN EXAMPLE, AND I
GAVE THAT EXAMPLE TO THE
MINISTER WHEN I MET WITH HER A
MONTH AGO.

Steve says WHICH MINISTER WAS THIS?

Avvy says CAROLINE MULRONEY.

Steve says THE ATTORNEY GENERAL.

Avvy says YES, THE ATTORNEY GENERAL.
THE CLIENT MAY NOT HAVE MADE
THAT CLAIM AGAINST THE EMPLOYER
IF THEY DIDN'T HAVE US, RIGHT?
IF THEY DIDN'T HAVE LEGAL AID.
AND EVEN IF THEY DECIDE TO MAKE
A CLAIM, THEIR CLAIM MAY NOT
HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL IF THEY
DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO NAVIGATE THE
SYSTEM.
SO THERE IS REAL CONCRETE SORT
OF BENEFITS TO OUR SOCIETY BY
ENSURING PEOPLE HAVE ACCESS TO
JUSTICE.

Steve says DO YOU THINK YOU CAN
GET THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO TO
REVISIT THE SIZE OF THIS CUT?

Patricia says PERSONALLY?

Steve says NO, I MEAN...

Patricia says NO.

[Laughter].

Steve says I MEAN, YOU'RE COMING
ON THIS TELEVISION PROGRAM
PRESUMABLY TO GET THE MESSAGE
OUT AND INDIRECTLY LOBBY.
DO YOU THINK YOU CAN GET THEM TO
REVISIT IT?

Patricia says THEY DON'T SEEM PARTICULARLY
OPEN TO IT.

Steve says HAVE YOU ASKED?

Patricia says NOT PERSONALLY.
I MEAN, THAT'S NOT WHAT I DO.
BUT I THINK LEGAL AID ITSELF
NEEDS TO ADDRESS THIS AS WELL,
AND THEY ARE TRYING TO ADDRESS
IT.
THEY CAN BE VERY SPECIFIC ABOUT
THE IMPACT ONCE THEY FIGURE IT
OUT.
IT'S NOT CLEAR YET.
I THINK ONE OF THE DIFFICULTIES
RIGHT NOW IS NOT KNOWING EXACTLY
WHAT THE EFFECTS ARE GOING TO
BE.
WHAT WAS SAID AND WHAT AVVY HAS
INDICATED IN A VERY, YOU KNOW,
CONCRETE WAY FOR HER OWN CLINIC,
AS WELL AS OTHERS, IS ONE THING.
BUT WITHOUT KNOWING EXACTLY WHAT
THE GOVERNMENT'S EXPECTING HERE
I THINK IT'S DIFFICULT.

Steve says AVVY, IN OUR LAST
MINUTE HERE, CAN YOU TELL US
WHETHER YOU CAN GET THEM TO
REVISIT THIS?

Avvy says I CERTAINLY HOPE THEY WILL,
AND AS I MENTIONED, I MET WITH
MINISTER MULRONEY, AND I THINK
SHE CERTAINLY GENUINELY CARES
ABOUT THE SERVICES WE PROVIDE.
WE TALKED ABOUT THE... WORKERS
THAT WE ARE HELPING, AND SHE WAS
REALLY INTERESTED IN THE WORK
THAT WE DO.
AND I DON'T THINK THAT THEY
ACTUALLY HAVE THOUGHT IT THROUGH
IN TERMS OF THE IMPACT OF THE
CUTS ON THE DIRECT SERVICES.
SO I THINK THAT NOW THAT WITH
MORE INFORMATION COMING OUT, AND
I CERTAINLY HOPE THAT THEY WILL
RECONSIDER THIS ISSUE.

Patricia says WE CAN SAY THAT THE
GOVERNMENT HAS CHANGED ITS MIND
ABOUT SOME OTHER THINGS.

Steve says WELL, AUTISM, FOR EXAMPLE.
AUTISM POLICIES.

Patricia says THEY HAVE WHEN PEOPLE
INDICATED WHAT THE RESULT MIGHT
BE AND HAVE LOBBIED FOR IT.
THEY HAVE CHANGED THEIR MIND.

Steve says YEAH.

Patricia says AND SO CERTAINLY FROM THAT
POINT OF VIEW THERE'S A
POSSIBILITY THAT THEY MIGHT DO THAT.

The caption changes to "Producer: Liane Kotler, @LianeKotler."

Steve says GOOD ENOUGH.
THAT IS AVVY GO, SHE IS WITH THE
CHINESE AND SOUTHEAST ASIAN
LEGAL CLINIC, AND PATRICIA
HUGHES, THE FOUNDING AND
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE LAW
COMMISSION OF ONTARIO, RETIRED,
AND THE FORMER DEAN OF LAW AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY.
IT'S GREAT TO HAVE BOTH OF YOU
ON TVO TONIGHT.
THANK YOU.

Patricia says THANKS, STEVE.

Watch: Ontario Legal Aid Funding Cuts