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Monday, October 23, 2017

Monday, October 23, 2017
Robert Blanshay approves of funding to keep Legal Aid Ontario’s immigrant and refugee services open, but he says more needs to be done to make sure LAO is not in the same situation next year.


While the federal government has committed additional funding to keep Legal Aid Ontario’s immigrant and refugee services open past November, lawyers say more needs to be done to address the problems that led to a possible shutdown.

The federal government has pledged $7.1 million to LAO after the agency requested $11.7 million to help fill a budget gap following a $26-million deficit last December.

LAO officials largely blamed the deficit on an increase in demand for immigration and refugee services and threatened to suspend such services from November until the end of the fiscal year if the federal government did not come through with the funding.

Robert Blanshay, chairman of the Ontario Bar Association’s citizenship and immigration law executive, applauds the federal government for providing the funding, but he says more needs to be done to make sure LAO is not in the same situation next year.

“I don’t think there’s any cause for jumping for joy here,” says Blanshay. “I think we’ve still got a global issue and problem.”

He says that while there is no one solution, LAO, governments and stakeholders will need to figure out how to maintain sustainable and consistent funding for the agency’s services over the years to come.

Jawad Kassab, the executive lead for LAO’s refugee and immigration program says LAO is looking into a number of internal initiatives to make its services more cost efficient, such as creating standard research packages and centralizing translation services.

“As you can imagine, we don’t know what is coming across the border next,” he says. “We don’t know whether we’re going have another surge given the situation in the United States.”


Pallett Valo LLP has a new managing partner, John Russo.

Former managing partner Anne Kennedy will be acting as deputy managing partner at the business law firm. Russo, a commercial litigator, was called to the bar in 1999 and joined the firm the same year.

“During my years at Pallett Valo I have seen the firm grow and develop into the successful and well respected firm it is today through the hard work and commitment of the partners, associates and staff,” said Russo in a news release.


An upcoming event will focus on the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Coach and Advisor Network.

The event will take place Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. at Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, in the Upper and Lower Barristers’ Lounge. Guests are asked to RSVP at


It’s unknown how widely police in Ontario utilize controversial surveillance techniques that can capture private data from non-targets in criminal investigations. Readers were asked if they thought there should be formal requirements to release this information. About 13 per cent said yes, this information should be released. About 87 per cent said no, this would put public safety and ongoing police investigations at risk.

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A Law Society of Ontario tribunal has ruled that a lawyer charged with offences related to child pornography should not be subject to an interlocutory suspension. Do you agree with this decision?