"Stop the cuts" and "Access to justice for all" was the message protesters in Newmarket sent to the Doug Ford provincial government, which has pulled $133 million in funding from Legal Aid Ontario.
Members of the Community Legal Clinic of York Region, the Society of United Professionals, which represents the court duty counsels, and community supporters carried banners and handed out leaflets and buttons at the parking lot entrances to the Newmarket courthouse on Eagle Street and McCaffrey Road yesterday afternoon.
While most of the drivers appeared supportive, York Regional Police officers did appear to monitor the situation after receiving a complaint.
The province has also decreed Legal Aid Ontario could no longer use provincial funds for refugee and immigration cases.
The cut in funding accounts for roughly 30 per cent of Legal Aid Ontario’s annual budget, cutting funding to legal aid clinics by $15 million.
"This will certainly mean loss of jobs and loss of services," the protest leaflet stated, urging citizens to send emails urging Premier Doug Ford, Attorney General Doug Downey and local MPPs to "stop the cuts".
In June, the provincial government announced a review of legal aid by the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Aid Ontario. The Legal Aid Modernization Project will determine funding allocations after April 1, 2020.
Until that review is completed, the future of legal aid is uncertain.
— with files from NewmarketToday staff