Certain services aim to assist those impacted by COVID-19 crisis
Legal Aid Ontario currently offers services which may be helpful to lawyers seeking to address anti‑Black and anti‑Indigenous racism.
An ,,, LAO president and chief executive officer, reminds members of the private bar of a number of its existing services, including legal assistance for individuals who have been criminally charged and whose matters raise racial profiling issues, even though such individuals would not have otherwise been considered eligible. LAO also provides funding of cultural assessment reports for racialized communities, test case funding and budgets to support broader systemic challenges.
LAO has also temporarily implemented certain services in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, including automatically giving certificates to individuals detained on criminal charges and offering certificate coverage for those dealing with child protection agencies, without the need for income tests.
“We believe that Black lives matter,” wrote Field. “And we will continue—through our strategies, services, and initiatives—to make sure that we give full meaning to those words.”
In a racialized communities action plan released this March, LAO committed to 17 objectives, to be met over the next decade, which aim to prevent a situation wherein racialized clients encounter obstacles to receiving LAO’s services. These objectives include ensuring that racialized individuals are proportionately represented among its clients, translating information to make it more accessible to all, training legal aid lawyers regarding racial justice and supporting service providers that address the needs of low-income racialized people.
LAO published its racialized communities strategy report in March, and expects to also release a report on Aboriginal justice strategy.
Anti-Black racism and police violence are not just American issues, Field said. “Unfortunately, it is a reality for many in Canada including for members of the Black, Indigenous and racialized communities,” he said.