Kitchener-Waterloo

'We're very happy' Guelph legal aid clinic exec says after federal government tops up funding

Refugee and immigrant communities in the Guelph and Wellington County can now feel a sense of relief that when they reach out to legal aid, says the executive director of the local legal clinic. It comes after the federal government topped up funding for Legal Aid Ontario.

Resuming access to legal services for immigration, refugee cases will provide stability

A legal clinic in Guelph is excited that the federal government has pledged to support immigration and refugee cases by providing funding to offset cuts made by the province during the spring budget. (Shutterstock)

The executive director of Legal Clinic of Guelph and Wellington County says she's very excited to hear the federal government topped up funding to Legal Aid Ontario after cuts by the province in the spring budget.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday $26.8 million in funding for legal aid for refugee and immigration cases, the bulk of which will go to Ontario.

Erin Simpson, an executive with the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, called the funding "a huge step in the right direction."

Executive director of the Guelph and Wellington County clinic, Anthea Millikin, says it's very good news for the community to see funding for immigration and refugee cases. 

"We know from people coming into the clinic and contacting the clinic that there is a great deal of demand for these services," she says. 

Millikin says she was concerned when she first heard about the cuts back on the provincial budget day in April, but she is glad that the federal government stepped up to fill in the gap. 

"We can continue to refer people to legal aid for help in terms of certificates or in terms of the refugee law office," she said.

Stability for the clients

Millikin says the funding provides a sense of stability for clients who need to reach out for refugee and immigration help. 

"It provides that comfort of knowing that when they reach out to Legal Aid Ontario, that that help would be available," she says. 

Millikin says her clinic worked hard to meet the legal needs of the community in the past few months and when there are refugee or immigration cases, the Guelph legal aid clinic looks to Legal Aid Ontario for assistance. 

"We are a very diverse community in Guelph. There are a number of newcomers to the community. Certainly, this will provide some comfort in terms of any services that they need, in terms of seeking status or maintaining status in the country," she says. 

Millikin does say there is cause for concern down the road that the funding is only a one-time deal, but says it's important to "take the good news where you find it." 

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