Government Legal Aid Cuts Axe Parkdale Community Legal Services Budget by 45%
Today, Parkdale Community Legal Services (PCLS) received news that the Clinic’s budget will be cut by 45% over the next two years.
Since cutting legal aid funding in the April 2019 provincial budget, Premier Doug Ford and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney have repeatedly promised the cuts will not affect client service. But this cut of over $1 million will have an immediate negative impact on the residents of Parkdale and Swansea.
“A cut this deep is a direct attack on the communities we serve”, said PCLS Clinic Director Johanna Macdonald. “Contrary to the Premier and Attorney General’s promises, direct services will be affected.”
Our communities are already dealing with this government’s cuts to minimum wage, health care, and education. Now the government is cutting the legal support community members need to address the problems the government is creating. A cut of this magnitude will impair our ability to serve the needs of low-income and marginalized community members facing violence, eviction, inadequate income and precarious immigration status.
Since opening our doors in 1971, PCLS has been a leading voice for systemic change. PCLS has worked with our communities for affordable housing, decent and stable income, family reunification and protections for immigrants, and decent wages and working conditions for all. For many decades, PCLS’ community organizing has effectively advanced the rights of low-income and marginalized community members and protected their demands for justice in the face of regressive government action. It is no accident that PCLS and other speciality legal clinics bear the brunt of the funding cuts.
“These cuts come at a time when the eviction and displacement of low- and middle-income Parkdale and Swansea residents is accelerating,” said Kalsang Dolma, PCLS Board Co-chair and Community Member, “our services are needed now more than ever. We call on the provincial government to reverse these callous cuts.”
In 2018, PCLS represented community members in over 2,300 legal cases and supported thousands of individuals in speaking out and taking action for their rights. The work we do at PCLS resonates far beyond our neighbourhood. The clinic and the community provide crucial clinical education for thousands of students. The experience has shaped their future and ability to work with marginalized groups and individuals and to understand and support change towards equality and human rights within our justice system.
With 48 years in the community, PCLS remains committed to its original vision to serve the community and support community organizing, outreach and education to amplify voices to speak out against oppression and inequality.
PCLS is looking forward, not back. We are asking our neighbours and alumni to contact the Attorney General to restore legal aid funding and to ensure the continued existence of PCLS and other clinics in the years to come. We are committed to staying in the community and focused on legal representation, education, outreach and organizing that fights the impacts of poverty, amplifies voices, and organizes for change. We have also begun reaching out to supporters for donations in order to maintain direct services in the community.
For further information, please contact:
Johanna Macdonald Kalsang Dolma
Clinic Director, PCLS Co-Chair, PCLS Board of Directors
(416) 531-2411 ext.242 (416) 668-2881