Law foundation’s 2020 annual report features grantees promoting access to justice for Ontarians

Last year’s total grants amounted to $10,759,261, law foundation reports

Law foundation’s 2020 annual report features grantees promoting access to justice for Ontarians
Image credit: The Law Foundation of Ontario’s website

Linda Rothstein, chairperson of the Law Foundation of Ontario, has announced the release of Staying Connected, its 2020 annual report which spotlights the ways that the foundation’s grantees have assisted in linking people to the needed legal support.

“The pandemic taught us many things including the importance of connection to each other and vital services,” Rothstein said in the news release.

The report can serve as inspiration to remain steadfast in the work to promote access to justice for Ontarians, Rothstein said. The report includes features and information on issued grants, highlights relating to the Class Proceedings Fund and other notable financial information.

The 2020 Guthrie Award, the foundation’s award distinguishing exceptional access to justice champions, went to the Elders’ Council, which consists of Indigenous Elders who are Knowledge Keepers representing First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities in the province and which supports the efforts of the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Indigenous Justice Division. The council offers formal advice to Ontario’s attorney general and other staff members at all levels of government, coordinates discussions such as those at the Sharing Our Justice Bundles Gathering and at the ReconciliACTION Forum and works to develop cultural competency training for justice sector workers.

The report also featured CLEO Connect and The 519 Community Centre’s Legal Clinic. CLEO Connect, a program of Community Legal Education Ontario, offers training, tools, resources and connections for community workers to more effectively support clients with legal problems. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, CLEO Connect launched a 15-webinar series tackling urgent challenges that clients are facing in relation to income assistance, workers’ rights, immigration, tenants’ rights, family law and domestic violence.

The 519 Community Centre’s Legal Clinic provides pro bono general summary advice and legal support to LGBTQ2S communities, including those who are street-involved, homeless or under-housed, especially in the areas of administrative, family, employment, and mental health laws, either through in-person, online or phone services. Its expanded specialty legal clinics focus on criminal law, immigration and refugee law, trans ID issues and housing law.

The foundation announced that last year’s total grants amounted to $10,759,261, with $10,704,261 pertaining to the general fund, including via Catalyst grants, Responsive grants, Strategic grants, the Connecting Project and the Public Interest Articling Fellowship. The 2020 grants for the Access to Justice Fund amounted to $50,000, while the granting for the Roy & Ria McMurtry Endowment Fund was $5,000.

The Access to Justice Fund, which is supported by class action cy-près awards, is a national fund that extends grants to Canadian nonprofit organizations in certain identified priority areas. The Roy & Ria McMurtry Endowment Fund offers an annual grant to the Second Chance Scholarship Foundation, which seeks to benefit students enrolled in college or university legal education programs and who are, who have been or who are at risk of becoming in conflict with the law.

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