Stop the Cuts: Access to Justice for All
Dear Legal Centre Members and Community Partners:
On Tuesday, June 11, we learned that the Ontario Government has cut the Peterborough Community Legal Centre’s (PCLC) budget by nearly 5%. These cuts threaten the future of PCLC and represent another reduction in services for people living on low incomes in our community.
PCLC is a small, storefront office with no bureaucracy or administrative fat to trim. The Province promised that no front line services will be cut, but these cuts mean that we will struggle to maintain our current staffing levels. All of our employees are front line workers. A funding reduction of this magnitude will result in the loss of vital legal services in our community that maintain roofs over heads and sufficient incomes for food and other necessities, and that protect basic human rights.
PCLC provides no-cost legal services to anyone living in Peterborough City and County experiencing legal issues related to housing, social assistance, employment, victims’ compensation, consumer protection, seniors’ law, and human rights. We also engage in community development and systemic transformation work on behalf of our clientele.
The reality is that the majority of our clients live at the intersections of poverty, disability, and trauma. Individuals living on a low-income are disproportionately over-represented by people living with disabilities, People of Colour, Indigenous Peoples, immigrants, refugees, women, LGBTQ2S+ identifying people, seniors, and the precariously employed.
Since the opening of the PCLC in 1989, the work done by our legal clinic staff has returned millions of dollars to people living on low incomes in our community. These are small, individual victories that have made a huge difference in the lives of the people we serve, and have benefited our community as a whole as our clients spend their money at local businesses. These include:
- a single person with a disability moves onto Ontario Disability from Ontario Works, thus nearly doubling the income of that client;
- an injured worker gets the WSIB benefits that were denied, cut-off or that they were unaware were owing to them;
- clients with developmental disabilities receive funds due to them from past abuse at residential institutions;
- a victim of a crime gets counselling dollars to deal with the trauma that was inflicted on them;
- a person disabled from working gets the Canada Pension Plan Disability benefits that had been denied.
Our clients cannot afford these cuts, and neither can our communities: Studies show that every dollar retracted from Legal Aid leads to a $3-5 increase in other areas of government expenditure, such as homelessness, health, family breakdown and incarceration, which is why it so crucial that we come together to oppose these cuts.
Further cuts to Legal Aid are expected next year, and this recent round of cuts follow the government’s previous directive to LAO to immediately cease immigration law services funded by the province, thus eliminating over 50% of legal services for this particularly vulnerable group. It is worth noting that refugees are often fleeing war zones, daily risks of violence, or regions that are no longer habitable due to climate change.
We are reaching out to you and asking for your support at this critical juncture. We must work together now to protect our community. We thank all of you for your support and partnerships over the past 30 years and we thank you in advance for your support at this pivotal moment in our history.
What You Can Do:
1. Please contact our local MPPs to express your opposition to the cuts:
MPP Dave Smith
Dave Smith, MPP
Unit 4, 1123 Water St.
Peterborough, ON K9H
MPP Dave Piccini
Dave Piccini, MPP
117 Peter St.
Port Hope, ON L1A 1C5
3. Stay up to date at the Stop Legal AID Cuts website: https://stoplegalaidcuts.
Chair, Board of Directors
Peterborough Community Legal Centre