The Criminal Lawyers’ Association says it’s set to meet with the Ontario government next week in an effort to seek increased funding for the province’s legal aid program.
Association president Daniel Brown says insufficient legal aid funding has led to many accused being unrepresented in Ontario courts, which in turn leads to inefficiency in the justice system and places an extra burden on the courts.
The association called on the government in a letter last month to negotiate a robust funding model for the legal aid program that keeps pace with the cost of living.
Brown says legal aid rates for lawyers have remained the same for years, despite inflation, and that’s pushing young lawyers and lawyers from diverse communities who largely rely on legal aid cases to leave defence law practice altogether.
Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In 2019, Ontario’s attorney general made a $133-million cut to legal aid funding, which amounted to 30 per cent of the program’s budget at the time.
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