Criminal Lawyers’ Association welcomes the 2007 Ontario Budget and additional Legal Aid Funding

Toronto, March 22, 2007 – The Criminal Lawyers’ Association congratulates the McGuinty Government and Minister Sorbara on the 2007 Ontario Budget released today that will help reduce social disparities in our justice system through additional legal aid funding.

“With today’s additional funding for Legal Aid Ontario, the government has ensured that more low income Ontarians will have proper representation in our legal system,” said Louise Botham, President of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association.

In a recent public opinion poll commissioned by Legal Aid Ontario, more than 85 per cent of Ontario residents supported providing legal aid services for low-income individuals and another 71 per cent said that ensuring fairness and equity in the justice system is reason to increase funding for legal aid services.

In its 2007 pre-budget submission to the Government of Ontario, the CLA recommended that the government make legal aid funding a priority addressing overall program funding, relaxing financial eligibility guidelines and enhancing lawyer compensation.

“Today’s budget announcement begins the process of rebuilding legal aid in Ontario. It is a positive step by the McGuinty government to ensure that Ontarians receive this essential public service. We support the government’s efforts and we will continue to consult with the Minister of Finance and the Attorney General to ensure that legal aid remains a priority,” said Botham.