YWCA cuts free family law clinics amid budget cuts
Non-profit group says clinics will close in August
Moncton’s YWCA will be closing its family law information and legal advice clinics by the end of August because of provincial cutbacks.
The YWCA works with volunteer lawyers to help people, specifically women, with family legal issues, such as separation, divorce and custody of children.
The non-profit organization says demand for the legal services is continuing to grow, but it can no longer afford to hold the clinics.
The program will be cut after the clinics get through the current wait list. Funding is down by 60 per cent, according to the organization, because of the provincial cuts.
Jewell Mitchell, the executive director of the YWCA Moncton, said the organization is disappointed that it has to shut down the legal services.
She said the decision was a difficult one to make.
"We get referrals when Legal Aid can't help people, they send them to us, when the family courts, there's nothing for people, they send them to us. It's disappointing," she said.
"It's a valuable service. It's one where you have professionals donating their time."
No other comparable services
There are no other comparable services in Moncton for people to access.
Robert Charman, a Moncton lawyer, said the loss of the service will have a very real impact on people in the city.
"There will be single mothers without custody orders or agreements concerning custody of their children, concerning the access to children," he said.
Dawn Mercure visited the YWCA six months ago when she required its legal services for a personal problem.
She participated in group sessions and one-on-one consultations with volunteer lawyers.
She credits the organization with helping her get back on her feet.
"By losing it, we're really losing out for a lot of families that can't afford legal fees," she said.
"We really need this in the community because there are so many people out there that don't have the money to afford to keep it going."
The organization hopes it will get funding in the future to restart the legal services.
The volunteer lawyers have said they would be willing to return to help in future clinics.