Posts by Iler Campbell

Legal aid is important. Ford government’s cuts will hurt us all.

June 13th, 2019 by Brynn Leger

The Ontario government announced considerable cuts to funding Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) as part of its first budget released in April 2019. The budget cuts provide for a nearly 30% reduction in the government’s funding to LAO, which will increase to a 40% cut in future years. LAO funds legal services for those who cannot afford representation in Ontario. They do this by providing certificates to lawyers to compensate them for representing individual clients, primarily in criminal and family law matters. They also fund community legal clinics, which in turn provide legal representation to community members, and also carry out law reform and community organizing initiatives. The province is separated into “catchment areas,” with each catchment area having a designated legal clinic. There are also specialty legal clinics, which focus on certain areas of law such as disability, HIV/AIDS, or injured workers.

On June 12, 2019, LAO announced how those cuts will be applied in the coming year.  LAO will base cuts to legal clinics on low‑income population in each catchment area and other supports available. Toronto clinics will see the largest cuts based on these recalculations. LAO is also urging clinics to preserve one‑on‑one client work and scale back its law reform and community organizing work. These changes are in addition to the freeze on providing new provincial funding for immigration and refugee law services which was announced back in April.

One clinic which will be considerably impacted by these LAO funding cuts is Parkdale Community Legal Services (PCLS). PCLS has been serving the Parkdale community in Toronto for over 40 years, and also functions as a student clinical education program, offering 20 student placements each year. It works in the areas of employment, housing, social assistance and immigration law. It has struggled this year to secure a lease for a new location in the neighbourhood, lacking a secure commitment from LAO to support the move. The latest announcement from LAO will mean a $1,000,000.00 cut to the PCLS budget. Read the rest of this entry

Court fees increase again. Who should bear the cost of accessing justice?

April 10th, 2019 by Brynn Leger

As of April 1, 2019, the Ontario government has introduced significant changes to court fees for Small Claims Court as well as Civil and Family proceedings at Superior Court. Court fees are the costs that come up from time to time as a case moves through the court system and includes fees for filing a claim, setting a date for a trial, and a range of other court steps. These fees are not new and they have had significant increases in the past, but the most recent changes raise questions about access to justice for people and organizations with less money trying to pursue a claim in court.

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Supreme Court’s Jarvis decision re-examines privacy in public places

March 5th, 2019 by Brynn Leger

This article was first published on rabble.ca

In R v Jarvis, an Ontario high school teacher was charged with voyeurism after secretly taking videos of his female students’ chests with a camera pen. Intuitively, Jarvis’ actions seem wrong. But the trial court and Court of Appeal acquitted him. The Supreme Court overturned those decisions and convicted Jarvis, updating the analysis of “reasonable expectation of privacy” in the process. Read the rest of this entry

Bill 47 and Impacts to Employment Standards in Ontario

November 12th, 2018 by Brynn Leger

On October 23, 2018, the Ontario government announced changes to employment standards in the province in the form of Bill 47, dubbed the “Making Ontario Open for Business Act.” The proposed changes will largely undo the amendments made to employment and labour legislation last year with the Liberal government’s Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.

Here, we will provide an overview of some of the major changes coming to employment standards in the province. Read the rest of this entry

Striking a Balance: The Case of the Guide Dog and the Taxicab

October 3rd, 2018 by Brynn Leger

What do you do when human rights of one person compete with another’s? Employers, housing providers, and other public service providers have a duty to accommodate those with disabilities under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code). Sometimes, however, these obligations lead to conflict between multiple people in need of accommodation. An example of this that has been felt by housing providers and employers is the tension between persons with service animals and other persons with allergies. Some people in need of accommodation rely on service animals to assist them. But people suffering from allergies to dogs can’t be expected to live and work in an environment that does not accommodate their needs. How does an employer or a housing provider address these competing obligations to accommodate these persons in a fair manner that complies with the Code? Read the rest of this entry

Freeze on overdose prevention sites engages Charter rights

August 30th, 2018 by Brynn Leger

This article was first published on rabble.ca

On August 10, 2018, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long‑Term Care announced a freeze on new overdose prevention sites (OPS) in the province. The freeze was effectively immediately, meaning it has impacted three OPS slated to open in Thunder Bay, St. Catharines and Toronto.

A new OPS in Toronto was scheduled to open on August 13, 2018 in the city’s Parkdale neighbourhood, just days after the freeze. Activists, organizers and members of the community were outraged by the news, especially in light of a safety warning issued by Toronto Police on August 14, 2018 about a spike in overdose deaths. The opioid crisis is a national public health emergency, and the Government of Canada supports supervised consumption sites, including OPS, as part of its national strategy to address the crisis.

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